It has taken me the better part of 10 days to adjust back to this time zone in terms of my sleeping. I've finally turned a corner the past 2 nights by not waking up at 2 am. I ended up having more things on my plate this past week that I wasn't expecting to occupy my time than what I was expecting to accomplish. That led to skirting around the major items I should have been doing. This means the to do list continues to grow and needs addressing on a daily basis going forward.
The not expected list included having to get new tires, a new ball joint and alignment on our black Honda Element which all seemed to take up an entire day that I wasn't expecting. Mowing, and weeding took up another day as the pace I was moving seemed to be about as slow-motion as one can get with a lawn mower compared to my normal way of attacking the yard. Selecting a new fridge took up another day as measuring, finding what would and wouldn't fit, pricing, and all the driving to and from places took up time. Discovering a leak under the kitchen sink took another chunk of time to try and figure it out, give up, and call for repair. Grading final papers, tests, projects, entering and submitting the grades took up 3 full days. Diving into an issue that arose with IMBCS to bring us into the 21st Century with gender equity cash payouts has taken some time, and was not on the original week's to do list. And suddenly the week is over ending with Mother's Day.
Coming off of last Sunday's race at Beverly Park, I launched into week #1 of my build, peak, and race 12 week structured training program. No rest for the weary so to speak as weights were lifted, 3 x 12 Zone 4 intervals, 4 x 4 Zone 5 intervals, and more weights were all completed. In spite of that, I decided to drive over to Louisville, NE for the Platte River Battle Royale on Saturday with Andre Rethman to race as the weather looked promising and the trails were reported to be in great shape. Knowing that it was a pretty full week training wise, my expectations were realistic what my legs, body and mind would feel like doing a race just 6 days after the previous one on top of a heavy training week. I got the car packed up on Friday in hopes I would be ready for my 8 am departure to pick up Andre and drive over to Psycowpath's second race in their series. We had a nice visit in the car driving over as car pooling is a great way to get to know each other.
We arrived about 15 minutes later than I would have liked due to me leaving the house 15 minutes later than I expected. My bad, and I apologized to Andre. We checked in, got suited up, used the facilities, and with very little warm up, lined up for the race. This event seems to fluctuate year to year between using a Le Mans start, and a regular MTB race start. Yesterday was the Le Mans variety where we set our bikes down in a designated area, and then we all start back 50 yards are so and run to the bikes to begin the race. Suffice it to say, out of the 40 or so that started in my group, I was next to last to get to my bike as I gingerly ran through the pock marked field so as not to twist an angle or pull any muscles.
I managed to hop on the bike and get going quick enough to make up a dozen or so spots right off the bat, then settled into the line going up the hill. Gone was the strategy of hanging with Mark Sullivan who beat me by 1/3 of a second at this race last year, as I was way back in the pack feeling the effects of a heavy training week as I pounded up the opening climb. I passed a few on the climb as my heart rate soared, but I did keep things in check remembering that there was plenty of course out there coming up.
Photo Courtesy of McColgan Photography
Once up the climb, I found myself in heavy traffic in the singletrack with little opportunity to negotiate a pass, but I managed a couple of passes to go around slower riders. The trail was in great shape from all of the rain this past week - nice and tacky, with only a little bit of mud at the very bottom of one of the descents. During lap one, the usual carnage of guys going down opened up some passing opportunities and I finally found myself in some good flow working with what my legs and lungs would give me. At the end of lap one, and looking at my computer, I spotted Mark rounding the lap to begin his second lap about 1:48 ahead of me. No way I was going to make that up, but I had at it for lap two trying to hammer every climb and keep moving forward to work on my form and worry about my position in the field. Lap two was uneventful as I caught up and passed other racers who had started out stronger than I did. I tried to ride the rock section on this lap as there was nobody in front of me at the time, but didn't make the climb as I psyched myself out 1/2 way up and put a foot down. A couple of duck steps over those rocks and I was back to mashing the big ring up the hills. I never saw Mark again as he pulled far and fast away and had me by at least 8 minutes for the win.
I rolled in for 2nd place (same as last year) which didn't feel quite as competitive as being on Mark's wheel last year at the finish line. Being on his wheel doesn't quite compare to being dusted by 8 minutes this year. However, my finish time yesterday - on pretty much the same course - was very similar to my finish time last year. Mark looked svelte as well as lean and mean like he had dropped some weight. He is obviously riding strong and will be hard for anybody to beat this season. I don't think I'll face him again until August, so maybe I can dial it up between now and then to close some of that gap. We'll see.
Andre had some mechanicals and went ass over tea kettle when a rock got stuck in his wheel. He rolled across the line in 6th with a few battle scars to show off on his leg. He treated us to one of my favorite beers from Knoxville, Iowa and we grabbed a burger from the grill that Cycle Works was providing for racers. This is always a fun event and it's nice to hang out and visit with folks after the race. I was able to have a nice talk with Roxzanne Feagan about financing and structuring cash payouts for men and women that are equal. Since the numbers in Nebraska are very similar to the numbers in Iowa, this was a valuable discussion as it is hard to compare to larger series such as Minnesota and Wisconsin that have a very large cash flow due to the 300-800 racers that race each of their events.
After the awards, we hopped back in the Element and returned to Iowa in time for dinner. Tara made a lovely salmon pizza. YUM! Thanks Andre for the visit and company! Kudos to Cycle Works and Psycowpath for a well run and fun event!
Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there. Our kids are both in Europe right now, so I'm taking Tara to brunch at Mullet's this morning on their behalf...