Thursday, April 21, 2011
Well it is Thursday and I am finally getting around to posting about one of my favorite Spring Mountain Bike Races of the year! The Bonebender 3/6 was held on Clinton Lake Mountain Bike Trail system in Lawrence, KS. It has been a decade since I have raced on these trails! I really did not think much of that until this week. I have not had the best history of racing on these trails. I love to ride them, because they can be challenging during the rocky sections, but FAST and rolling along the lower lake sections. It is fun riding near the water, probably one of the biggest things I miss about living in Tampa, FL is the rides along Bayshore Boulevard or over the Causeways. But, there was a really cool section along the Clinton Trails in which the Lake was about 30-40 yards from the trail. It was one of the fastest sections, but I looked forward to it every lap, it sort of re-energized me and let me focus in for the remainder of each lap.
Speaking of the laps and the race. It was a BLAST! When I rolled up to the Ethos Racing Team Pit area, man the juices were flowing! This was the 1st official Team Race of the year. Everyone was there from our team, so many that during the laps when I would see other people on the trail, I would hear them say, man, there goes another Etho's Racer, you guys are everywhere! Yes, we were!! I would say that everyone came to race on this day!
The race started down near the Beach area of Clinton Lake. They like to make you run to your bike when you have a mass start of close to 200 mountain bike racers. There were 15 teams entered in our 2 person Duo 6 hour Open Mens Division. I knew that this field was stacked pretty deep this year! Gary and I finished 4th last year and we were really hoping for a podium in 2011. I knew this was going to take a huge effort just to stay in the top 5 with the hired guns in our race.
When the gun sounded we took off like a bunch of crazed animals, running up a rocky road in our cycling shoes. I am sure there has to be video of this on You Tube somewhere, it has to look rediculous. Anyway, I made it to my bike in pretty good shape, got onto the open road section and realized I was in about 10th or 12th position. I was happy with this and knew that this was a 6 hr plus deal and to stay clean and keep it close on this 1st lap. Going into the single track is always Crazy with this type of race! Sure enough, I was off of my bike and running at the first real rock section. Not by any choice of my own, but some guys did not make it up and you gotta keep moving. Cyclocross skills were in full effect the first half of the race. I managed to crash a few times myself on the first lap and even ripped my jersey. Not knowing what position you are in is never fun and add's a panicked element to that 1st lap. I made it around in about an hour. We were not in a great spot, about 8th place. Far enough from the top 3 that we would really need some solid laps.
At the transition area, Gary was ready to roll! So ready that when he started riding, his rear wheel flatted not more than 20 yards away. He stopped, jumped off of his bike, grabbed my bike and adjusted the seat. He was off! Hardly anywords were said to each other, but we both knew we had to really kick it into gear and hope that we had some luck on our side the rest of this race! I took Gary's bike back to the pit area and checked it out with some teammates. We re-sealed his rear wheel and hoped that it would hold air!
Gary put in a great 2nd lap. When he came around, I was feeling much better and more prepared for the Rocky sections that lay ahead. When I took off, we had made up one spot, but 5th and 6th were just ahead of us. I could see them on the trail and knew it was about a minute or less difference. I kept this lap steady and finished under an hour. I did not kill myself, just let it roll out and stayed clean. You have to let these long races play themselves out a bit, if you really hit the gas to soon, then you could be done for the day!
Gary's 2nd lap, our 4th lap was smoking fast! He laid it down for us and moved us into 5th place. He is such a great person to have on your team, he has raced for years and has some pretty great handling skills. We make a pretty good mix and there was no way I was going to lose any position or time after that effort! My third lap our 5th felt great. I was having some serious fun and riding most every section. I felt fast and comfortable. I think alot of it was due to the strength training I have been doing over this off season. It has paid off on the road bike, but the true test was on the mountain bike. The rocks at Clinton can put a hurt on you if you are not careful.
The last 2 laps, we maintained our position. Gary finished up or 6th lap and I went out for the 7th (my 4th) and final lap of the day! I took it a little easy on the front section to make sure I rode clean over the rocks. Hammered the middle section of the course and cruised in the last few miles. It was great to have this race completed. We were short of our goal, but Etho's Took the Top spot on the podium, thanks to Travis and Garet! They are hands down the fastest mountain bike racers on our team this year for sure! Two Etho's teams in the top 5 was alright by me and hanging out with the crew for the day was a blast.
Had to Highlight my teammate up top in the Picture, Gary was the man. Raced two different bikes, mine and his on the day. He never stop amazing me at how skilled he can be at racing a bike, any bike!
So, the Mountain Bike season is underway! After nearly 40 miles of racing on Sunday, i took a day off the bike on Monday. It was much needed anyway! Next on my list is a Road Race May 1st and then another Mountain Bike Race that I have had circled for the past year. The Roubidoux Roundup in St. Joseph, Mo May 7th! That is where I grew up and let me tell you, you better bring your climbing legs if you want to see the podium at this race!
Just another day to look forward to in my Bike Life! Go!