Monday, April 26, 2010

Le Tour de Tick recap

This weekend was the first race of the 2010 season in the Midwest Fat Tire Championship series; the Tour de Tick.  I was a little nervous about making the hour and a half drive to Neosho because it had been raining in Springfield for the last 3 days and I really didn't want to do another mud-bog race like St. Joe.  But Gary Lowden, the race promoter, was posting regular updates on facebook that the trails were in good shape so I decided I'd rather drive and not race than not drive and miss a good one.  It was a good decision.

We arrived about an hour before the sport/expert start time of 12:30 and there were quite a few cars packing the parking lot and lining the road.  It wasn't a HUGE crowd but it was respectable and more than I expected.  I recognized a lot of faces but there were a lot of people from Arkansas and Oklahoma as well.

I registered for the Expert 35+ class.  As experts we would be doing 4 laps around the roughly 6 mile course (sports would do 3).  There were about 5 other riders in my class and maybe 6 riders in the Expert Open class.  The rest were all in the various Sport classes.  We took off 1 minute after the Expert Open crowd and I was in second when we hit the singletrack.  I decided to try something different for this race; I was going to go as hard as I could the entire time just to see what happened.

Once on the trail, we were going really fast and sliding in all the corners.  The trail was not muddy, but it was wet and with the loose rock, avoiding the drifting was impossible.  About 2 miles in, I made a move and passed a guy named Chris to move into the lead for our class and was able to put a pretty good gap on him.  Then I started catching the Expert Open riders and passed them all except Dan Miller and Jon Schottler. They are two really fast guys out of Columbia and I expected them to finish 1/2 overall.  To my surprise, I found them both on the side of the trail fixing flats about a mile from the end of the first lap.

I finished the first lap at around 30 minutes, grabbed a full bottle of Hammer HEED and headed out for the second lap.  My tactic of going all out was working.  I was breathing hard and really working the whole time.  The second lap was pretty good.  I had Chris catch up to me which surprised me because I felt like I was riding really well, but I was able to pull away without getting passed. 

I finished the second lap at around 30 minutes, grabbed another bottle of HEED and went out for the third feeling pretty good.  On one of the sweeping left turns I was going at full speed when my front wheel hit some kind of a dip in the trail and launched me in the air.  Since I was leaning into the turn, the wheel came down well into the grass on the inside of the trail and even though I pulled it out, it scared the crap out of me.  Then, on a hill climb a couple miles into the lap, Chris caught back up to me again.  I grabbed my bottle at the top of the hill and he made his move passing me very quickly.  I tried to cage the bottle quickly so I could take off after him and instead dropped it.  I needed it so I stopped, grabbed it and when I got going again Chris had put a pretty big gap between us.  I didn't let him get away and could still see him on the straight-aways when about 1 mile from the end of the lap, I went over a log obstacle and punctured my front tire on something on the other side.  It was in the middle of the tread and it was spewing Stan's everywhere.  I stopped and let the Stan's seal the hole, but when I started riding again it opened back up.  I tried to seal it 2 more times before I decided to put a tube in.  I was carrying 1 tube and 1 can of Big Air. I got the tire off pretty quickly and checked for thorns before putting in the tube.  I found 1 thorn so I removed it, threw in the tube and mounted the tire back up.  While I was doing this Dan Miller and 3 or 4 other expert open guys flew by, but no-one in my class.  When I got the tire inflated and back on the bike, I was still sitting in second place in my class, but the leader was now a long way away.  I rode as hard as I could for the rest of the lap.

I finished the third lap in around 38 minutes, grabbed my last bottle of HEED and headed out for my last lap.  On the same sweeping turn that I almost wrecked on the previous lap, I hit the same spot and the exact same thing happened, barely escaping what would surely be sudden death,  or at least that's what it felt like.  The rest of the lap was pretty uneventful.  I passed a couple of the people that had gone by while I was fixing my flat and I finished the lap in 30 minutes in second place in my class and several spots back in the overall.

The post-race get-together was a good time and I'm pretty happy with the day.  I felt like I rode really well and I'm bummed that I wasn't able to duke it out for the win but it's just one race and I made enough cash to cover the entry fee plus some gas.  

Here's a link to my Garmin data.

Here's a link to the results.

Next up is Syllamo's Revenge this weekend.   Can't wait.

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