Tuesday, April 3, 2012

River City Shootout

I had big hopes going into the opening weekend of the Nebraska Psycowpath mountain bike series. After years of battling in the Cat 1 field on a single speed I finally threw my leg over a geared bike to try and get the job done. Numerous 2nd place finishes had been enough for me, it was time to get down to business.

If felt like the good ole' days of the Sea Otter Classic as I built up my new Trek Superfly Elite just days before the race. I got out on Friday for a shake down at Swanson and got my tire pressure and suspension settings all sorted out. It was my first time using my new Camelbak Charge LR hydration pack too. I'm not a big fan of hydration packs but when you're carrying shock pumps and tire pumps to the trailhead with you they work awesome. The LR in the name stands for Lumbar Reservoir. It's awesome because the water weight is down around your hips, not sitting high up on your back. I'm excited to give it a long run at a Colorado trip later in the year.

The bike felt stupid fast. I was hitting some sections at Swanson so fast I was actually scaring myself a bit. Pure fun.

The field on Sunday was stacked as usual for any Nebraska event. Pro rider and Teammate Kent McNeill along with fellow pro and DSM fast man Cam Kirkpatrick. Then there were all the wild card riders, teammates Greg Shimonek and Steve Jarrett, as well as Kaos rider Kevin Limpach. Any of these guys can throw down on any given day.

At the whistle, Greg took the holeshot into the single track only to stack it a quarter mile in on a fast right hand sweeper. From there it was Matt Gersib, Kent, Cam, myself, with Kevin and Steve on my wheel. We hit marathon traffic immediately and a sketchy pass let Kent by Matt. A little while latter Cam and I were able to get by Matt as well and we were cruising.

The pace was pretty steady that first lap, not too fast, not too slow. As we exited the trail to finish out lap 1 my head said go. I upped the pace through the start finish and went about riding my pace through the trail. Behind, Cam took over the chase which was a best case scenario for me as he doesn't know the trail as well as the other Omaha guys. Soon though I could see that Kevin had taken over at the front of the group and that he even had a small gap.

In times like this I always remember something that Rishi Grewal said back in the day when he was off the front. For the guys behind to catch you, they always have to be riding faster than you. I felt like I was riding pretty fast so the chance that the chasers were riding faster was pretty slim. And sure enough, each lap the gap was growing little by little.

By lap 4, I caught a glimpse of Kent who had now moved in front of Kevin and was pulling away. My gap was up in the 3 minute range (note: not sure where the 3 minute comment came from but looking at the now published lap times I never had more than a minute) at one point but Kent was definitely closer than that. I started to ride pretty conservatively. The 90+ degree heat was taking it's toll and I didn't need to win by minutes, I just needed to win. The last lap was slow and Kent was charging from behind. I eventually rolled across the line for the win, about 30 seconds clear of Kent. Steve trailed in for 3rd ahead of Kevin with Shim rounding out the top 5. Pretty good showing for the new Trek Midwest MTB team. Ryan Feagan finished 7th after pulling double duty as promoter/racer and Cole Skiba finished 12th in Cat 2. Solid start to the year for sure.

It feels so good to have finally won a mountain bike race. The last time I won at the Cat 1/Expert level was 1999. It's been a long time. My body was wrecked. I knew it was going to hurt, the first mountain bike race of the year always does, but then throwing in 90 degree heat pushed it over the top.

Next up is the Twin Bing Classic in two weeks. I'm really looking forward to this one.

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