Today was the cornhusker state games mountain bike race on my home field at Branched Oak Lake area 1. In the past I've never done well at this race and this year I was really focused on getting it right. I was picked up early by Sean and Rick and we headed down to the lake where we me up with Ryan and startedto get ready and have plenty of time before the race started. We brought the ezup tent and had a place for the team and our familys to hang together. The flatwater team tent
After we got ready we headed out on the course to warm up and to let Rick have a look at it who was doing his first mountain bike race. My plan was to do a full lap of the course but when we got about a third of the way through the rest of the guys peeled off onto a fireroad and head back to the staging area. I decided to go with them and not waste any energy. I've ridden the course enough that I didn't need to ride it to see how it went so I followed along and went back to try and relax. I was feeling nervous again since I and the team had expectations for me.
When we lined up it was a mass start with both cat 1 and cat 2 riders all starting at the same time. There was probably 30+ riders so I was in the second row. We had a long grassy area we had to ride at the start and the finish that was really long so we had plenty of space to thin things out. All I wanted to do was get up and be the first in the sport category getting into the singletrack. When we hit the singletrack I was right were I wanted to be and ended up on the wheel of my teammate Sean who was riding in the cat 1 masters category. After the first short climb I asked if I could get around him and he did and played some team tactics and said he would slow everyone down for a second (later he told me it didn't help cause I dropped the whole field after I got around hime). Right after I got past Sean I just hammered it through the long downhill (I've come to find that the new frame really descends well) and hit the flat straight away hard. The only thing that caused me to worry a bit is that on a really huge couple of bumps we have to go over I lost one of my bottles. I was worried about this cause I new I would have to stop and get it or pick up the one I had stashed just in case later on in the lap. Right when I got to the first section of climbs I really punched it and that is when I started to pick off the cat 1 riders that were in front of me.
Once I got past the first group of cat 1 riders I just kept on hammering at it alone for the rest of the lap. Right towards the end of the lap we have a super long straight section of fire road that takes us back to the beginning of the course. In this race I wanted to make sure I took in fuel and so on this straight section I made myself take in a gel even though I didn't feel like it. When I got towards the singletrack I looked behind me and couldn't see anybody. I hit the second lap hard (stopping to pick up my bottle) hammering it the whole way through and when I finished the lap I was almost 3 minutes faster than my first lap. On my third lap is when I started to see the riders in the lead of the cat 1 on the climbs and I used them as my rabbits to keep pushing hard even though I could never see anyone behind me. I never caught the cat 1 riders by the time I hit the fireroad where I turned off to head back towards the start finish line. I kept looking behind me to see if anyone was coming and I couldn't beleive that no one was but when I got onto the grassy path back to the start finish line I was able to just cruise to the line being the first rider to finish of all category's of cat 2 riders. It was 4 minutes before the next rider came in (who ended up being the guy that beat me on the line in the crit last week).
I've never felt as good during a race as I did today. I think I finally have my pre-race nutrition and plan worked out. Hopefully I can get myself ready for races like this more often. I think my plan of fueling during the race really helped me get through those last laps with enough energy to push on and never have that bonk in the middle that has always slowed me down. I'm also extremely happy with the new bike. It passed it's first race test beautifully.
It also helped knowing the course as well as I did. It was nice to finally have that advantage for once over all the Omaha riders who have the advantage at most of the courses we race on. For next year at the state games it looks like I will be moved up a cat since the winner of the race has to move up. Should be fun. Also Congrats to Ryan with the 3rd place finish in our Cat. The flatwater double podium is sweet and for Sean on finishing 2nd at the Time Trial yesterday. Here's a few more shots from the race: