I have been ready to get back on my mountain bike and race now since the last time I raced it in Iowa and with last weeks race postponed again I couldn't wait for this one. I had been hearing good things about the course at Ponca State park and I wasn't disappointed.
My teammate Ryan and I were up early and off for the almost 3 hour drive to the race so that we could get there early enough to have plenty of time to pre-ride the course and warm up before the race got started. After having a short delay in the form of me getting pulled over for going 5 mph over the speed limit(luckily I only got a warning) we made pretty good time to the course and got there got registered and were off to pre-ride the course and check it out since neither of us had ever ridden there before. They had gotten a lot of rain there lately and the course was a little wet and on the steep climbs the roots were like ice and slick and it was easy to lose grip and be off the bike. I knew that getting a good start was going to be key to not getting stuck behind the bunch as people would be off the bike and walking up the hill. A majority of the real steep climbing was right at the beginning of the course and would spread things out pretty quick. The middle part of the course is pretty flowing and fast giving the power riders a big advantage that I would later find out. The course did have a couple of more climbs back towards the end including a steep granny gear grassy climb that had most people walking up and then another big flowy downhill section to the finish line.
When it was time to line up and get going I got myself right up to the front of the starting line cause that is where I planned on staying during the race. They had us start at a spot that was wide so that we could spread a little before hitting the singletrack. When the gun went off I was in a decent spot and found myself in fourth position going in to the singletrack. Once we hit the big climb at the beginning I was right on the wheel of the leaders. The rider in 3rd place slipped on a root on the first climb causing me to stop but I recovered quickly and then on the next section I passed him and then passed the 2nd place rider. I sat in 2nd place then for most of the first lap with the 3rd and 4th place rider right with me. When I got to the earlier mentioned big grassy hill I made it up it and then right after that on a shorter climb I bobbled it and then had to put my foot down for a second and the 3rd and 4th place rider passed me and it seemed right after that I kind of fell apart and was feeling drained and couldn't get things going again. I finished the 1st lap in 4th place and then started on the 2nd lap with the 5th place rider coming up behind me.
On the climbs again on the 2nd lap I caught back up with the 3rd place rider towards the end of the climb but he really dropped the hammer on the downhill flowy section and I just couldn't keep up. Shortly after that I got passed by the 5th place rider leaving me in 5th place for the rest of the lap. Towards the end of the second lap I started to feel better and started moving again. The 4th place rider was out of sight by now so I started to push it again trying to catch him.
On the 3rd and last lap I was able to catch the 4th place rider on the climbs and was able to get by him on the climb and was surprisingly able to get away from him on the flat sections. I was feeling pretty good at this time and was trying to push as hard as I could to catch the 4th place rider. I never saw the 3rd place rider and came across the line finishing in 4th place. When they posted the results from what I could tell I was out of third place by less than 30 seconds. When I see that I start to replay in my mind the parts where I slowed and if I could have just kept my pace would I have been able to make those seconds up and catch a spot on the podium.
In the end it was a good race and I loved the course and will look forward to the race there next season. I wish it wasn't so far away cause it would be a great place to train. I really feel like my form is coming on to where I need to be and with about 3 weeks before my next mountain bike race I have some time to get a good training block in. Later.