April has arrived along with lush lawns, budding buds, leaves popping out, weeds growing, insects buzzing, taxes paid, grills grilling, and of course - the start of mountain bike racing season.
Illiniwek Abermination CAT II Start
I started the season off over at the Nebraska Psycowpath Swanson Shootout on April 9th with 3 laps of an always well attended, and well run event in Bellevue, Nebraska on the singletrack that had a few new twists and turns this year compared to past years. The weather was perfect with temperatures in the 70's, and cloud cover to keep us from overheating. I managed to claw my way through the course for a 3rd place finish in the old man's CAT II group.
Realizing I had some top end work to do after all of the endurance training, I attempted to get some higher effort intervals in over the past two weeks, but couldn't stick to my structured plan as the end of the semester hours of working during the day, and attending recitals/concerts at night dictated a cut in my training hours. However, I managed to push hard on the few rides I could get in to build some more top end. My other realization was short term weight gain following the 12 week build for endurance racing that ended in early March. I had leaned out during the 12 weeks leading up to early March, but I started chowing down in mid-March. If it wasn't nailed down - I ate it. So I have a good 5-7 pounds on the mid-section to once again shed as it will help me going up the hills to lighten the pay load.
Yesterday, April 23rd was our IMBCS season opener at Illiniwek Forest Preserve in Illionis. The race was hosted by FORC and is a joint series race with the Iowa and the Illinois series. Mike Corbin was once again the race director. He and his volunteer team of FORC members did a great job! Music, food truck, swag, atmosphere, perfectly groomed trails, spectators - which all combined for a quality event. The forest preserve and beautiful flowing trails lie along the banks of the Mississippi River and has become a favorite of mine.
I car pooled to the Quad City event with Rob Cook. We brought the Oskar Blues beer, the free entry punch cards for the 2016 Series Winners, and quickly got those delivered. I met Keith Robinson from iTuo - a new sponsor for the IMBCS series this year. It was great to see all the smiling faces around with a good turnout of everyone enjoying the sunny, beautiful weather, perfect trails, and festival atmosphere that FORC had created.
Rob raced the CAT II race that started at 11:15, and I raced the COMP race that began at 1:25.
This course is filled with dirt and wooden berms making it a really fun time on the bike.
Photo Courtesy of Karl Bengston
I hung on for dear life for all 4 laps with a creaking bike (rear pivots obviously need some immediate attention) to claim DFL (dead frickin' last) in this one. DFL is a familiar place for me in the COMP category, but I enjoy doing the extra lap, and the bumped up competition level in COMP. After I leaned too far on one corner riddled with roots and went down hard enough to make my handlebars askew, I did manage to straighten them out and try and catch back up to the two I was tailing. In doing so, I hit my highest heart rate this year on the second half of the 4th and final lap on all of the climbs as I decided to test my pain threshold a bit as I tried to catch back up.
I think I even managed to get 1/2" off the ground...
Photo Courtesy of Rob Cook
Due to the late start, and length of my race (I was out there for 1:42 and change), by the time we got packed up and on the road, I didn't get home until 7:42 pm. I showered, inhaled a big salad Tara made for me, and passed out.
With that, the 2017 mountain bike racing season is off and running - in Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois.