Crawling back into racing form...

I say crawling back into form compared to all the road biking I did this summer, and how I have felt since July 12th with two surgical procedures and a bad tooth (that is now gone).

I had a pretty good ride/race at the Tranquility Tire Tantrum yesterday in Omaha.  The pain from those two recent July surgeries had all dissipated and my body is crawling back to having better energy levels. I'm not surprised that pain and surgery (not to mention all the pain meds) takes a toll, but I felt like I've climbed out of that hole compared to two weeks ago as I lumbered around the Ingawanis Race course feeling mentally and physically like I was in a trance.

Going into the race yesterday, I only had 5 days to recover from last weekend's Raccoon River Valley Trail ride with Tara. So I treated the week appropriately by following the week 12 peak week per LWCoaching's recommendation. I did some trail work as well, but made sure I front loaded the week with the heavy leg trail work, and did work on Friday that was less lower body intensive. The result was my legs felt good on Saturday during the race, and I was able to hammer the climbs to take advantage of that strength.

Trail conditions at Tranquility were very dry and dusty. I found myself fighting in the corners and dust with the Racing Ralphs more than I wanted to be doing. Squirmy would be the definition I would use to describe how they were performing. Talking to Michael Maney after racing was over, he too felt the same thing with his Racing Ralphs. We both felt a Renegade on the rear would have been much better in the conditions. I'm still struggling a bit with bike handling with the Yeti compared to the 8 year groove I have with my JET 9. I think it will iron itself out going forward, but for now - the bike and how it handles is still in the newness column for me as I don't have that many hours or miles with it yet. Wider handlebars, shorter stem, slacker geometry all combined has me fighting a bit to the point that what used to be a strength for me handling my bike through the tight and twisty as well as technical has now become a mind block- and a weakness. However, the climbing, the flats, and the bumpy descents shine with this bike.

I am not all that familiar with who is who in my age division at Psycowpath as I had only done one race this year back in June at Lewis and Clark on my Salsa Dos Niner. I bobbled that course on the Dos Niner like I had never ridden off road before, but recognized the rider (Mark Paulsen) who had bested me there for 1st Place as I took 2nd. Mark was on my tail using the strategy to let me pull and hold back until he was ready to pull around me. That didn't bother me. Even though I knew there were 6 signed up in my age class, I figured he was "it" in my class to worry about not realizing there was another racer ahead of us that we should have been chasing. That's my bad as obviously the same 6 of us were not at Lewis and Clark. In spite of that, I was riding a good pace during lap one trying to keep something in reserve, and near the end of the lap got a bit confused at a section that had lots of orange paint, some spectators, and a jump. I did not pre-ride the course, so my quick confusion and what to do led to a bail out on the jump and Mark who was still right on my tail passed me.

Right after the bailed jump frustrated I couldn't get my foot clipped back in right away...


Soon after that, I fumbled my water bottle because the cage is so low on the Yeti that I was having trouble retrieving it, and getting it back into the cage while keeping the tires on the narrow "cow" path trails proved to be enough of a challenge that I slowed way down just to get a dang drink. So another rider passed me. That's how quickly something can change in a race, and I got caught with my pants down so to speak. Prior to yesterday, I had been using a Camelbak pack because of that. I may go back to that as it is much easier. Following the bailed jump and bottle fumble, I hammered to catch up. I passed the one rider who had gone around me during the bottle fumble, and hooked on near the tail of Mark who had passed me at the jump. He was able to create a gap on a section that pointed out a weakness I was having on the Yeti with the wide bars. As I went across the finish line to begin the second lap, I saw that I had some time to make up as Mark was a few hundred yards in front of me. I kept my cool thinking I could hammer the climbs to make it up during lap two.

Coming across the line after lap 1...

TTT Start:Finish area

I got stuck behind a slower rider on the first set of switchback climbs, and unfortunately waited way too long to make my move around him allowing more of a gap to build between myself and the rider I was chasing in front of me. Once out in the open section, I hammered the climbs and saw the rider I was chasing had about a good 30-45 seconds (or more) on me. I knew that was going to be hard to make up, but I at least let myself go a bit in the sections that I felt weak in and was rolling a better lap in lap two than I did in lap one. The rider who had passed me during the bottle fumble, and I had passed back, caught up to me as he went around me right before the jump and caught some big air. I kept strong and managed to not bobble the remainder of the course crossing the line feeling strong. It was good enough for a 3rd Place finish with a minute separating me front 2nd, and 2 minutes from 1st.



Podium antics including the 2nd Place finisher, Mark Paulsen, missing the award's ceremony as he was somewhere in the parking lot...


I know I have it in me to put up more of a fight if I can get the bike handling down with the Yeti. I may have to trim the bars and swap tires to my favorites, but all in all I felt pretty good with my effort - especially coming off the surgeries in July. HR data looks rather normal for an XC race for me...


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