And with that, the season is a wrap...

Saturday was the annual Dirty Duathlon which is a fund raiser for Central Iowa Trails Association.

I try to do the race every fall as the funds go to CITA.  This year, the funds are to help build a new section of trail at Center Trails during the Spring of 2015 that will make for a nice loop.  Some years I am unable to attend the Dirty Du due to opera rehearsals, or other plans.  It's called the "dirty" duathlon because the event takes place on the dirt singletrack trails in Des Moines in and around the Greenwood Park area.  A runner begins with a 2 mile run, then rides a mountain bike for 10 miles, and then it ends with another 2 mile run.  One can do it solo, or as a relay.

I've done it both ways - including with Alexa when we won the Sprint version a few years ago.  I've done it solo on at least 3 different occasions, and I teamed up with former student Brandon Hyde to take on the Men's relay the past two times I have done it.  It's pretty low key, but you can make it whatever you want depending on the effort you grind out.  It's usually my year end wrap for the mountain bike racing season.

This year, I teamed up for the co-ed relay full Dirty Du with 2012 Simpson Alumna, Amelia Borgomainerio.  Amelia is a runner and needed a mountain biker to join her, so we hooked up and became a team.  Amelia claimed on the CITA website that she was "in it to win it".  Tara and I had spent the evening with Alexa in Iowa City on Friday, and had breakfast with her Saturday morning before driving back.  I drove directly to the race venue and noticed that we had beautiful fall weather on Saturday in the low 70's.  The trail was in perfect condition for the race, and CITA had things set up for a great event.

Amelia began with the run at 1 pm, and when she completed her lap, tagged me and off I went for the bike laps.  I was able to work my way through the crowd quite a bit and was only passed by one bike during my 10 miles (the eventual 1st Place Winner) who was competing with his young daughter.  My laps were pretty full throttle for me as I kept my HR in the 164 - 171 area anytime I wasn't going down the hill.  I forgot to turn my Wahoo Fitness App on until about 5 minutes into the race, but managed to turn it on during one of the climbs.  It was a full out XC race effort by me that was equivalent of a CAT II race.  I felt pretty good out there and was able to keep things moving throughout.


Photo courtesy of Eric Roccasecca

I finished my portion and tagged off to Amelia who went for her final 2 mile portion.  Fun was had by all and we managed to end up in 3rd Place for the Co-Eds...


Thanks to Cheryl Dralle and CITA for hosting yet another great Dirty Du!!!

I went out for the longest ride I have done in October on Sunday to shake out the legs from Saturday's race effort.  And that was only 101 minutes to Carlisle and back on the road bike as October was me just maintaining the shape I had to do the race in Red Wing, and the Dirty Du.  I maintained my form by doing shorter rides with intensity and not many hours.  I will now move into the off season fun rides, weight lifting, and base building before heading off to Germany in January.  After the ride, I loaded up two chickens in the Big Green Egg to smoke, and then headed off to the Chamber Singers Concert at Simpson.

My racing season this year spanned from the Psycowpath Race on March 29th in Bellevue, NE - to October 25th if I count the Dirty Du.  That included 12 XC State Series events that I did in Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.  My two "extra" events were the Dakota Five-0 in South Dakota, and the Dirty Du in Des Moines.  Compared to 2012 and 2013, that's a more manageable number of events considering I did 22 in 2012, and 17 in 2013.


Red Wing Race Report...

Knowing that it was near peak weekend for fall leaf colors, Tara decided to join me on a drive up to Red Wing this past Sunday to see the fall colors.  I know we did that at least once when we lived in New York City, and headed up to Vermont for a weekend.

The peak colors can vary 2-3 weeks depending on the weather, but this year they are a bit later than normal here in the upper Midwest.  Regardless, the timing worked out perfectly for us.  I wanted to race in the rescheduled Minnesota Mountain Bike Series event that originally was supposed to be in June, but rain in the forecast caused a postponement.  Luckily, the trail organization at Red Wing, and their crew, were able to figure out a date that would work for them while still providing MMBS to have their full 10 race season.

I like the Red Wing course a lot, and saw that I had Sunday free to travel to the race, so that's what we did.  We made a road trip for fall colors and mountain bike racing.

We left the house at 6 am and Tara got a picture of the sunrise as we headed north...


Thanks to sharing driving duties, I was able to work on a flat tire my rear bike wheel had while we motored up I-35.  I added sealant, and pumped the tire back up (which is not easy while sitting in the front seat).  We arrived a bit later than I would have liked, but I got dressed, made my drink mix, and headed to the registration table to pick up my number plate.  Then I headed out for a 15-20 minute brief warm-up in the blustery fall morning, that was filled with beautiful sunshine and fall colors every where one looked.

I lined up about 10 minutes before the start and noticed that the 2nd Wave would be all the 40-49, 50-59, and 60+ racers.  Usually we are near the rear of all the start waves, but this time we would go second.

Tara snapped a shot of me with my game face starting to develop...


I got some final tips and directions from a fellow racer in my group before we took off...


After the call ups for our combined wave of three age categories had been completed, I was lined up back in the bunch at the line.  On the "GO!", I was able to move up to the top 10-12 quite easily in the opening meadow section as my legs were feeling good for racing.  I knew that this race was going to be a lot longer than the typical 60 - 70 minute version of a Sport race due to the number of laps we were slated to do - 3.  So I didn't want to get too excited right off the bat, and thought about pacing to remain strong throughout the race.


I recognized a racer (Steve Kapaun) in front of me that is usually near or on the podium, and managed to settle in behind him.  I have finished behind Steve before, as well as ahead of him - so he was a good marker for me to tuck in behind.  By my count of who had lined up at the start, Steve was the final podium spot with Craig Brown right in front of him.  I remained on Steve's wheel and when we came into the final open meadow section after a long climb, I really thought about passing both he and Craig in front of him as my HR monitor said we were just cruising along in that meadow at Tempo, rather than in race pace.  Again, my strategy was to follow these two riders, pace myself well, and the strategy developed - whether it was good or bad at the time - to making the decision I would attempt to make my move in either the 2nd or the 3rd lap at or around that same spot.

As we came around the start/finish area for the 2nd lap, Tara snapped a shot of me which shows the vivid fall colors we were all fortunate to experience out there...


In that opening meadow section where I noticed Steve had slowed down during lap one - he took off, and I gave pursuit to stay in contact.  So, that adjusted my strategy to wait until the 3rd lap to make my move.  Lap three had some of the faster racers from waves that started behind us catching up and asking to pass.  Other than that, it was going according to plan and I was hanging on the wheel of the rider in front of me.  I was riding my Dos Niner which has wider handlebars than my Niner bikes, and negotiating between some of the tight trees was going fine, but took good timing, balance and coordination at this race speed.

About 2/3's of the way through lap three on a tight tree section that didn't give me any troubles before, I snagged the right side of my handlebar on a tree.  That stopped me dead in my tracks and threw me as well as the bike into a tree on the left side where my helmet smashed into the tree.  My chain also flew off and the 2 guys behind me screamed at me to "Get out of the way!!!".  There were no "Are you okay?" sympathies shared from what they had just seen.  So I moved out of the way and it took far too long to get my chain back on than I would have liked.  I fumbled with it in 3 or 4 attempts to get the chain on and get going again.  Rats!!!  "Game Over" I thought, but there was no way I was going to go down without a fight.


So digging deep, I gave chase in hopes I could make up a 20+ second deficit before we ran out of singletrack real estate.  I pushed my heart rate higher than I thought I could take, but was heroics or nothing at this point if I wanted it that bad.   I felt like I was slowly crawling my way back into it, but was still about 15-18 seconds or so behind where I had been before hitting the tree by my count.  Since we were already nearing the 90 minute point, I was in a deeper pain and suffering mode than usual, and the extra effort spent trying to catch up was draining my tank.  I just didn't have it in my legs to catch back up to Steve who finished 18 seconds ahead of me for the final podium spot.  I gave it my all though, and had the tree hit not happened, who knows if I would have had enough left in the tank to pull off a pass and make it stick?  Regardless, I was happy with my effort at this level of competition.


Post race posing...


I think Kyle Williams (who raced Sport in the 30-39 age class, and got 3rd in that group) said it best.  Something like "COMP in Minnesota is like Elite in Iowa, and Sport in Minnesota is like COMP in Iowa".

However one says it, any time I make it to the top 5 in Wisconsin or Minnesota is a good effort for me as the competition is really high.  After the race and results were posted, we took off to find a suitable lunch spot in Red Wing.  We wandered in at Marie's Underground Grill and Tavern which turned out to be a nice local spot for lunch.  Then we hopped in the car for the return trip.

Full color in Red Wing...


567 miles round trip was a bit much for the day when you add in a 90 minute race, but seeing the colors on or near the peak weekend made the trip worth it - as did the always well run Minnesota Mountain Bike Series events.  I'm glad they were able to have the race as it was a fun one - as always.  Kudo to all those involved in the MMBS and to the local crew at Red Wing for getting the course ready and hosting the event!!!

We rolled into Indianola about 7:30 pm tired and tuckered out...


What a weekend!!!!

It is no wonder I slept for 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep last night after the busiest week of the year for me.  Not even the dogs could stir me before 7 am this morning!!!!

Services on Friday night (2 hours), Saturday morning (2 hours), Saturday afternoon (4pm, 5pm and 6 pm - which morphed into the 7 pm service) singing with this excellent group of musicians...


...made for a spiritual and musical highlight this Yom Kippur.  Not being Jewish, it is pretty easy to follow along with all the Old Testament stuff due to the similarities to my upbringing in the United Methodist Church.

Tara awoke long before the crows were up on Sunday morning and I think was out of the house at 4 am on her way to the airport and California.  I managed to sort of stay awake, then get ready for The Mullet Fall Classic race day which had me out of the house by 6:30 am with my U-Haul behind the Element to drive down to Lake Ahquabi and set up shop.

Bob Matthews pulled in about 15 minutes later and we went to work to make The Mullet happen.  Lake Ahquabi at 7 am...


The trail was groomed to perfection and in perfect condition for racing.




Bob and Andy built a nice zig-zag style maze at the start/finish area to please spectators and provide for plenty of heckling and teasing that went on during the racing...



160 racers toed the line this year (down from last year where we had 168) and enjoyed sunshine, fall weather (high was 64), potluck, a beer garden, a generous prize table (ended up with 134 prizes)...


...awards, fun, and frivolity to end the 2014 IMBCS season.   I had a tremendous group of volunteers that handled registration, timing, course set-up/tear-down, marshalling duties, prize table distribution duty, potluck, gopher duty, and could not be more pleased with each and every one of them.

After the long day, and very successful day of racing - I rolled out of Lake Ahquabi State Park at 7:12 pm confident we had left the park in a better condition than we had found it 12 hours prior.  I got home, had dinner with Zack and was sound asleep by 9 pm.  The High Holy Days singing, the lead up to the race, and the race day itself took a lot out of me.  All good, but combining the two on the same weekend was more draining than I thought it would be 10 months ago when I scheduled everything.

Since I did not race The Mullet this year by choice so I could focus on being an actual race director, I went out after work today to ride 2 laps at race speed.  I wanted to jump start the legs and just see where I would have stacked up on my home course.  It's always difficult to emulate true race conditions when riding by yourself, but I tried as best I could.  I had turned 32:16 laps the prior weekend on Sunday and Monday making sure I had the course set up right for this year.  Not having ridden since Monday, and without any warm-up after work -  I turned two laps in 1:04:35.  My 2nd lap was a minute quicker than my first lap as I was warmed up and in the groove.  Not a fair comparison, but had I rolled a 1:04:35 if I had raced on Sunday it would have been good enough for 3rd overall in CAT II Sport, and 1st in my age group.  At least it was good enough for my peace of mind.  More importantly, I got to see the course in the counterclockwise direction in the same conditions all the racers saw it yesterday.  It was perfect and really, really fun. 

I'm sorry not more could experience it, but I realize people are busy, some are under the weather, and a myriad of reasons always leads to who shows up and who doesn't show up.  In spite of that, I was really pleased with how the event turned out this year as I thought it was my best effort of the 7 years I have hosted this race.  Ma Nature has been more than kind to me each and every year.  For that, I feel very fortunate....


Singing tonight, and all day tomorrow...

Tonight at sunset begins with the Kol Nidre service to usher in Yom Kippur....


I'll be singing the service tonight, as well as starting tomorrow morning at 10 am with continuous services until a bit after 7:00 pm when the fast is broken.  Yes, that is a big, long day tomorrow with lots of great music on tap for me to sing.

Special thanks to my colleague at Simpson - Jamie Poulsen - for the arrangement of Avinu Malkeinu with organ.  Hey, when two United Methodist Minister's sons get together - we can do great things!  ;-)  It's quickly become my favorite prayer to sing this year.  It mirrors the version Sherrill Milnes recorded with Jon Spong.  Milnes sang in Janowski's Temple Choir in Chicago in the early 60's and nailed the style in his recording.  I'm sure working with Janowski would have been fun.  I have to assume that Milnes sang it in the style Janowski taught it to him, so of all the versions I've listented to - I keep going back to the Milnes version as a reference. 

In honor of Yom Kippur and the great prayer, here's Jan Peerce singing the great Janowksi piece as originally written...