Sunday, September 13, 2009

MWFTS - ICCC Castlewood Blue Ribbon Recap

Saturday was race #11 in the Midwest Fat Tire Series.  It took place on the back side of Castlewood State Park using the Cedar Bluff and Stinging Nettle trails.  Before the race I'd only ridden Stinging Nettle a few times and didn't even know Cedar Bluff existed.  Now I know.

I arrived at the race at 10:30 and pre-rode the course.  Cedar Bluff was definitely the more difficult part of the course.  It was rocky, had lots of roots and a couple pretty good hills.  The course started on the Stinging Nettle side with a nice wide trail to start with, then it went into a 4 foot tunnel under some railroad tracks to get to the Cedar Bluff trails.  Then after the Cedar Bluff lap before entering the tunnel to return to Stinging Nettle there was a "mandatory" dismount where there were some rocky steps.  The Stinging Nettle trail was winding but very flat and very fast.

I don't think it was a very spectator friendly event because we had to park about a half mile from the course and ride in on the Al Foster trail.  There were a few non-racing people there but not nearly as many as I've seen at other races.  The organizers set up a table at the finish line for water bottles which I utilized and think is a great idea; hopefully they keep that up.  Speaking of the organizers, they did a very good job overall.  Hopefully they'll promote more events in the future.

When the race started I was in the front row.  I had a small issue clipping in when we took off so I was the forth rider as we approached the single track.  Soon after the start the guy behind me called out to pass me on the left as we were riding about 20mph.  I didn't want to go off the trail into the grass and kill my momentum so I just moved over to the right side of the trail  The trail in that section was a few feet wide.  As he pulled up to pass me his handlebar hit mine and it caused him to lose control and go down.  He fell off his bike to the left of the trail and his front tire turned to the right and crossed into my path.  It happened very quickly and my instinct was to back off my seat and ride it out.  I ended up jumping his front wheel.  In hindsight I think I should have stopped to make sure he was okay, but I didn't; I kept going.  I spoke with the rider after the race.  He was scratched up from the fall and his front tire was a little wobbly but he said he rode back to the starting line, fixed his bike the best he could and rode the race.  He ended up in 5th place.  I apologized for my part in the wreck and feel pretty bad about it.  I don't know if he has any hard feelings about the incident but I didn't wreck him on purpose.  I've been in many wrecks myself and they aren't fun; especially when you hurt yourself or your bike, but that comes with the territory.  If you're going to race mountain bikes you're going to wreck.  Kudos to him for continuing the race and I hope he doesn't have to replace the front wheel.

The rest of the first lap was the hardest part of the race for me.  I don't know if I warmed up to early but the hills on the Cedar Bluff side seemed much harder than they should have been.  About halfway through the lap on the Cedar Bluff side I passed Rock Wamsley.  He was standing on the side of the trail working on his bike.  A little later I passed JP Brocket so I figured I was in second place.  When we got to the Stinging Nettle part of the course Rock came up behind me and we rode for awhile together.  We came up on a couple other riders and after a minute or so I saw some expert riders coming the other way on the trail yelling "You're going the wrong way!".  For some reason we kept going.....  Soon after I realized that I didn't recognize the trail from my pre-ride and called out I think we missed a turn but we still kept going.  I started hoping that we would pop out near the starting line somewhere.  When some more expert riders passed us going the other way I decided to turn around.  Rock and the others I was with kept going.  When I turned around I got in behind Wes Biermann, a good expert open rider.  I spent the rest of the race trying to stay on his wheel.  Turns out he had gotten a flat on the first lap which made him lose contact with the leaders and he went pretty far on the wrong turn.

When we made it back to where we missed the turn one of the organizers had shown up; I guess one of the early expert riders alerted them about the problem.  He was pointing riders in the right direction and replacing the tape.  I don't know who took the tape down but I saw a few non-race riders on the trail earlier in the lap and I guess they could have ridden through it not knowing we were counting on the tape being there.

The time for my first lap was 27:56.  The rest of the race was pretty smooth.  I lost contact with Wes a couple times but was able to reel him back in on the hills.  Staying on his wheel was really cool.  I was able to watch his lines and I think it pushed me on the downhills and flats.  I don't get to ride with better riders very often so I'm grateful he didn't try to drop me and let me tag along.

The times for my 2nd through 4th laps were: 26:20, 26:25 and 26:13.  That's pretty darn consistent!

There were a couple of people taking pictures during the race.  Here's the links to the sets:
Here's one of me going downhill.  I like how it's blurry; it feels that way.


Here's a picture of me on the first lap at the steps before entering the tunnel on the cedar bluff side.

Here's a good picture of the tunnel from the stinging nettle side.

This is a cool dip on the stinging nettle trail.

Here are 2 of me how I spent most of the race; chasing Wes.  I got some good air on that jump but there's no proof I guess.



On the last lap as we headed to the finish we passed Rock.  He was running alongside his bike.  I spoke with him after the race and he had quite a story.  The first time he stopped was because he dropped his chain, then he bent his rear derailleur but was able to continue riding.  Then he broke a spoke on his rear wheel and finally his chain broke.  He ran his bike a couple miles in order to finish the race and ended up in 8th.  I bet he thinks his new bike can't arrive soon enough.  I was able to finish in 2nd place about 3 1/2 minutes behind Justin Bowen the winner in the 30-39 sport class.  JP took third.  Here's a link to the results.

With Rock's mechanical issues it put's an interesting spin on who's going to win the overall series.  As it stands I'm in first with 130 points, JP is in second with 129 points and Rock is in third with 128 points.  There are 2 races left so it's anybody's game.  If Rock beats me both races then he'll win, if I can win one of them and finish within one place of Rock for the other I'll win.  JP has been struggling with his endurance lately but if he pulls it together he could wind up on top.  It's going to be interesting.....

The next MWFTS race is in 2 weeks at Greensfelder park next to 6 Flags in Eureka MO.  On the way home from St. Louis today I stopped at the park and rode the trails a little bit.  It's going to be a tough race.  If there are as many horses there as there were today it's going to be VERY tough.

Here's a picture of my 2nd place medal.  A cowbell. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment