Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bitter and Sweet

Race weekends don't come like this too often. The Nebraska CX series kicked off in grand style with back-to-back races at Swanson park in Bellevue. Saturday was a bitter pill to swallow when a mis-timed turn sent me sliding on a rut thus rolling both my front a rear tires off the rim. Two pit visits and a quarter lap run later I was in last place but stuck it in chase mode to battle back to sixth.

Taking a short lived hole-shot Pic: Dan Farnham
Second pit visit Pic: Jill Tillinghast
Meanwhile up front, my good buddy Nate Woodman was laying waste to the field. He was the only man on track that I wasn't making time on after my wheel swap. We would have had an epic battle had I not fallen off. Jesse Peterson made a late charge to grab second ahead of Jeff Kluck from SCV.

Day 2 was all sweetness. After all, days don't come much worse than the previous day. I feel pretty lucky to have 5 or 6 guys locally that can really beat up on me and push me to the absolute max. Nate showed his hand the previous day, as did Jesse. Troy is always faster on the second day. Jeff, who I'd never raced against before was a surprise strong man. Lastly there's Matt, who had about as bad a luck as me the day before but is known to pull out some amazing efforts now and again.

The plan was to take the hole-shot and be first to the barriers. After the day one barrier jumping that Nate and I were doing, a hand full of other guys figured it out for day two. At the gun I got away clean and caught a glimpse of Nate on my wheel. As we entered the first tight left hander I heard some skids and rubbing behind so I pinned it out of the corner and headed towards the barrier / maze sections. Nate and I started to get a little gap and we worked hard on extending it.

The eight inch barriers were fairly easy to get over
Nate and I would stay together for 4 or 5 laps before I thought it was time to go it alone. I wasn't going to take any chances on an ill timed mechanical and you never know who's going to come knocking in the last 15 minutes. I began to slowly open up a gap to Nate. Five seconds, then ten, slowly creeping away. Behind, Jeff Kluck was building a good lead over Troy while Matt and Jesse were locked in a battle for 5th. The course was brutal and required heaps of power. My back was aching from 30 minutes on and I was just hoping I could keep the power on.

I rolled across the line taking a long awaited W with Nate about 25 seconds back. All the guys kept me super honest all day long, no room for mistakes today. Jeff took bronze with TK and JP rounding out the top 5. It feels great to have finally won one and to have shaken the Raymond Poulidor monkey off my back. I was beginning to think the all elusive win would never come. It was awesome hearing all the cheers from the crowd throughout each and ever lap, it made me want to ride harder and harder, so thanks everyone!

Big congrats to Vaughn Pierce for laying waste to the Cat 3 field, it'll be good having you in with us next time, it's where you should be. There were some pretty fast Cat 4's out there too. With Vaughn moving on you boys should move up too. After Saturday's race I had a good chat with John Petersen about CX upgrades. I've often heard guys say that they'll upgrade after they win. Let me tell you, wins don't come very often so don't wait around too long or you'll never get anywhere. I think the last time I won a race was when a bested Nate at the Nebraska SS MTB championships four years ago. I hope some guys see the light and start Catting up. For the record, here's the criteria.

Cat 1/2/3 podium: TK 4th, JP 5th, Me, Nate 2nd, Jeff Kluck 3rd
Nate and I taking to the sand
TK manning up on the barriers, yeah buddy!
Swansons signature deep sand

The big boys raced in Belgium too, here's how it turned out...


scott showen said...

Nice work Mark.

mathguy said...

That Namur course was a monster. Would have been fun to try it out...

MG said...

Nice ridin' Mod.

brady said...

I'm encouraged by your day 1 mental toughness. The next time I face adversity in a race, especially in mechanicals, I hope to think of this and press on. Good job both days, Mark and thanks for the write up.

Mark Studnicki said...

Awesome. Always good to see a bad day #1 turn into a good day #2. Beware the Challenge clichers popping off. I gave up on 'em for that reason.