Monday, August 24, 2009

Cyclewerx Crankfest/MWFTS race recap

Yesterday was the Cyclewerx Crankfest mountain bike race (#10 in the Midwest Fat Tire series). The race was held at Klaus Park in Jackson/Cape Girardeau MO which is right next to I-55. It was an interesting day.

It began with an alarm ringing at 5:30 (yes, that's AM) which is never a good way to start a day. Jessie, Chris (sport 29-under riders) and I rode up together and the 4 hours and 30 minute drive didn't seem that far. We arrived as the beginner and marathon classes were starting their races at 11. This gave us enough time to register and pre-ride the course before our races started at 12:30.

The most surprising thing about the park/race course was how much trail they were able to squeeze into such a relatively small space. It was a 3 mile trail and there were no crossovers or overlaps but there were tons of tight turns and short power climbs. It was really cool because there were lots of trees at the park so almost the entire course was shaded but there was virtually no undergrowth, so as you were riding you'd see lots of people on other parts of the course. It was great for spectators too because they could see so much of the race.

When the race started I tried to stay near the lead. I pulled into the single-track in third with Rock in the lead. I pushed it pretty hard and stayed within sight of the leaders for most of the first lap but by the second lap they were beginning to pull away and I was passed by a few people in my class. I'm not sure what my problem was exactly, but I was putting out a lot of effort and still wasn't able to keep up. I think the turns were what was killing me; I was slowing down too much and then having to work too hard to get back up to speed out of the turn. With a course like that where there are so many turns it really starts to add up. The funny thing is I don't think I needed to slow down as much as I did because I never felt my tires slip and never felt out of control, I just couldn't keep off the brakes. That's something I really need to work on.

My favorite part of the trail was a section that crisscrossed a large ditch where there were big berms on either side which guided you through the turns. It just kept going back and fourth. The only downside was that it was right after the longest climb of the course so when I got to it I was pretty winded and wasn't able to go into it with as much speed as I would have liked. I've never ridden anything like that and it was a lot of fun.

I haven't seen my individual lap times yet but I think I stayed pretty consistent throughout the race. I did a total of 6 laps in about 1:39 and on the last few laps I was able to catch and pass everyone that had passed me so I finished in the same position I was in when the race started; third.

On my last lap about halfway through I was lapped by a very fast overall winner Chris Ploch. He went by me at the bottom of a fairly long switchback climb and I tried to keep up with him for a little while. I kept him within sight until we got to the top of the hill and then he took off. A little while later I was lapped by 3 other experts that were riding together. Again I tried to keep up with them and was able to for about 10 seconds and they pulled away. I just couldn't hold their pace and it wasn't even on an uphill section. I'm going to be racing against those guys next year. I'll have to work my ass off this winter....

Rock Wamsley won my class with a time of 1:33 something and Ryan Winkler (a local) took second. There was a pretty good turnout for the race with lots of people that I haven't seen before. There were about 20 people in my class alone. After the race I talked to a guy that lives in the area and rides the course a lot. He spent most of the race ahead of me and I wasn't able to catch him until the 5th lap or so. I don't know if it was his first race or not but he thought the strangest part of racing was passing, where the passer (faster rider) has to go off track into the thick stuff to make the pass and how that would slow you down where you had to go twice as hard to get around the other rider. It sucks but I have to say that passing someone beats getting passed any day.

The after race get-together was pretty cool. There was free food, free beer (for those that like that sort of thing) and a great atmosphere. For my third place finish I got a t-shirt and medal (see below).

We hung around for a while then started the odyssey back to springtown. We followed Garmins recommendation for the fastest trip which strangely wasn't the way it lead us there. It involved a lot of winding 2 lane roads that would have been a blast on my motorcycle but not so much fun in the CRV. We stopped along the way for dinner at a nice little Mexican restaurant where I ordered the largest burrito on the menu. After I finished it I wished I'd ordered a smaller one.

When we got home around 9 o'clock I was exhausted; I slept better last night than I have in a long time.

The next race in the series is on September 12th at Castlewood. I've decided I'm going to do that race instead of the 12 hour race at Sac River. I just don't want to miss out on the MWFTS points. I'll be up near Columbia over Labor Day weekend so hopefully I'll get to ride some of the cool trails in the area.

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