Tuesday, July 19, 2011

First Category 1 Race in the Books! GO!

I have had this past weekend's race on my mind for some time now! Not only was my best friend Jeff Smikahl racing his first ever Endurance Mountain Bike race division(He finished 8th by the way!), but I knew a lot of my racing teammates from St. Joe would be down to enjoy the Shawnee Mission Park Trail System. I train on this system a lot, not so much on the new Red Trail that started out the Mayhem race, but the rest of it I could pretty much ride by feel. This is why I had been anticipating this race. Not only for the familiar trails, but it was my first Category 1 Expert Mountain Bike race. I would would have 4 teammates in the race and i liked our chances in our respected divisions! The heat has been pretty intense around here lately, i knew these days were coming soon, just wish they would have held off about one more week. But, that was not the case! As my Cousin use to tell me when I was a speed skater, everyone has to race on the same course and the same conditions, so you might as well get any of those thoughts out of your head!

So, I did very little to warm up for this race. I did a pre-ride of the exact course the nite before to make sure my bike and my thoughts were dialed in for Sunday. We lined up for the start, 17 Expert Category One racers. It was a nice mile or so rocky drag strip to the entrance of the single track. But, once you dove into the single track, i knew it was going to get a little sketchy and backed up. It is pretty tight and little room for passing on the red section.

As we took off, I knew that Gary Mapes my teammate had the best shot of all of my teammates at winning the entire race and his age group. He took off like a rocket. I would normally be a little more aggressive at the start, but i held back a little for the distance of an Expert Cat. 1 race is usually 30 minutes or so longer than the previous category I had been racing this year. I also wanted to follow a few of the guys on my team to see how they would react to the trail system. As we entered the single track I was in about 8th place. Mid-field and pretty comfortable. Knowing what was ahead, my goal was to stay close to the front runners and pick off a rider at a time on this first lap. As we went through the Red Trail section, I was able to get around several riders. I found myself in a group of 4 riders. Myself, Craig Hoppe, Jason Douglas, and Bobby Summers. This would be the guys I would spend most of the race with until the last few miles. We came through on the first of 3 laps in pretty good shape. I ended up clocking the 6th fastest lap time of the day, that means my Gary had the 2nd, Jason Douglas had the 4th, and Craig Hoppe had the 5th. I was pretty stoked about that, I will take that company any day of the week! They are my teammates and we were well positioned to reach the podiums in our age groups and fill up the top spots overall for Ethos in the Expert class. Always a goal for our team!

We hit the second lap and I was feeling pretty good! So, prior to hitting the single track, I went to work! I took a dig and jumped aroudn our little group. I went into the single track and just started to ride that trail like I owned it! I felt good and set some sweet lines for my teammates to follow me. When we got to one of the tougher rock sections I bobbled a bit, but managed to make it through. By the time we were done with the red section it was down to Craig, me, and Bobby. I was not certain of Bobby's age group category. I knew that Craig was in the one above me, so we could work together a bit and it would not matter who crossed the line first at the end of the 3rd lap. As long as were together, we would podium for sure in our age groups.

By the 3rd lap, I had to stop briefly and grab a cold bottle of electrolyte mix and a cold ice towel for my neck. When it is this hot going into the final lap, you sacrifice a few seconds to get some cold drinks and get that cold towel to get your core temperature under control a bit. I was pretty hot, but otherwise feeling fine physically. Craig and Bobby had gotten ahead of me a bit. I made up some time on them a bit. I was actually more concerned about Jason coming up and around me? He and I are teammates and in the same age group. I knew I was in a top podium spot and wanted to finish the race out strong. I could see Craig and Bobby up around each corner and was making my way up to them. On the last dig around the park on the Orange Trail I let it hang out a bit. I brushed a few tree's and thought that I just needed to keep it steady and finish this Heatfest!

I came up the hill on the last climb and had a huge smile on my face. I had finished my first Expert Category 1 Cross Country Race in 106 degrees of Heat Index Misery, but loved every minute of it! Jason came in not to much later and it was nice to share the podium with one of my teammates. Congrats to Bobby Summers on a much deserved win. I finished 2nd (7th overall) and Jason was in 3rd for our 30-39 age group. I am really going to enjoy racing in this category! It is tough, but the riders are smooth! A higher paced race on the rocks usually makes for less crashing and the respect of each others abilities at this level is a welcome relief. Nobody freaking out during the first 15 minutes of the race and messing everybodies day up.

My teammates grabbed 7 Podiums on Sunday! Our team is having a great season! If you want to keep following us, check us out at Etho's Racing! We also had a solid Showing this past weekend at Mountain Bike Nationals in Idaho Springs, ID. You can find all that information on our blog.

Be careful in the heat! We cancelled our SPIN! ride on Monday Nite! That is unheard of unless the weather is raining or lightening! Heat index's into 110 this week. Train early or if you train late, go short and then go home or find a pool.

Thanks for reading! GO!

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