This Sunday in Lawrence was the God’s Country XC race on the super fast and twisty Lawrence River Trail. This can be a difficult trail to race on due to the unique character. This trail is extremely fast, pancake flat, very tight and twisty through trees and there aren’t any technical obstacles to speak of. All these characteristics make it very difficult to pass during a race. Therefore, the start is crucial to success. First into the woods is probably first to the finish line.
Since this was my first MTB race of the year, I wasn’t really sure how I would stack up in the Cat 1 field this year. The butterflies were very active. I really was just hoping to feel strong and put in a good showing. I did have one major concern though…. Saturday evening I noticed two large dents in my rear rim as I was topping off my Stan’s tubeless fluid. The tire did reseal and was holding air, but I was praying I didn’t hit anything that caused any trouble. More to come on that issue…
Unfortunately I arrived at the start line a bit later than most of the competition, so I had to start in the back row. Not a good way to kick this thing off. At the gun, 17 riders were off and I managed to work my way to about 10th during the drag race going into the single track. After about 4 miles, a group of 5 created a gap off the front. I was still in the second group of about 8 riders, and had worked past a couple of guys into 8th position. We hit the ‘sand pits’ on the back section of the trail (man, those sand pits really crush your legs and spirit…) and I put in a big effort to get to the front of that group in 6th position. In my mind, I’m thinking… “If I could just put in a bit more of an effort I can break free of this pack.” But then…..the depressing HISSSSSS of air exiting my tire….. PSI dropping, nothing I can do. It was the rear tire I was worried about, I had hit a log or rock that was buried in the last sand pit. So, I had to stop and watch the group I fought so hard to get through fly down the trail and out of site. I did get the tire sealed up and hit it with the CO2. Seems to be holding, and away we go. I had lost about 2 minutes, which is a huge distance on this trail, and was now sitting in 13th position. Not exactly how I hoped to start the season.
From then on I kept the effort high but was much more cautious through some of the sections, fearing a DNF. After a very quiet and lonely second lap, I was able to catch 3 other Cat 1 riders on the 3rd lap for a 10th place finish in Cat 1, 5th in the 40-49 age group. Better luck next time maybe…Race Stats – 30.66 miles in 2 hrs 3 mins, 1 mechanical issue and 2 pounds of dirt in my mouth.
Next up is the Fat Tire Festival at Wilson Lake in central Kansas on May 1. This is bar-none my favorite place to ride…..hopefully I can get a new wheel built between now and then!!
A thank you to Prologue Racing sponsors: RideBiker Alliance, Swiftwick Socks, Bike.America.KC, Rudy Project North America, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, crankbrothers, Life Balance Sports & Wellness, Smiles by Design, Joclyne Rivard Properties, and Vancebikelawyer!
Photo courtesy of Roger Harrison: