You’ve heard the old joke, right, “What do you call the med student who finishes last in their class… Doctor.” I’m wondering if there’s a similar truism for registrants in a mountain bike race. Not that I’m surprised in any way by my performance in the Tranquility Tire Tantrum Stage Race. My expectations going into the event did not include podiums or payouts. When you toe the line with the top cycling names in the region: Kirkpatrick, McNeil, Limpach, Chesterman, et al – the hope is to just hang on for a bit and set a new baseline for one’s self.
Confusing road construction obstructed the planned pre-ride of the Lewis and Clark TT course. So it was sign-in, eat, warm-up, countdown, go. From there, it didn’t take long to figure out that this track was not playing to my skill-set (at least the first half). Too many tight turns and faux-cliff edges for my still-maturing tech abilities. I enjoyed the trails for what they offered (if not for racing’s sake) — especially the second-half climbs. Got caught by my minute man around the lowest elevations and then ascended comfortably but not assertively enough (in my opinion) to finish it off. Stage 1: Lanterne Rouge.
The plan for the day’s XC portion was to try and maintain a position at the back of the group (or at least keep sight of it). Yeah, I know, not a very confident goal, but I scour results/lap times as research and am a realist. Sat on a wheel about the distance from staging to the time-trap before incrementally losing ground to and sight of the gentlemen who can push the big gears. Rode about 2/3 of the first lap trying too hard rather than focusing on clean lines and a reasonably high tempo effort – i.e., wasted time/energy psyching myself out. Then, the best and worst event of the day happened – the 3’ high tree crossing. Hit it way too hot and endo-ed spectacularly (you probably felt the divots my face and left shoulder made under tread in subsequent laps). Worst, obvious – best? Yup, I was forced to pick myself up and make a decision – gonna race or gonna quit? While I dusted myself off, checked the helmet (and body) for cracks, pulled the bike out of the long grass, and picked up the rummage sale of bottles, pump, gel flask, etc the first Cat 2 passed me. Got back on and while nursing the shoulder, Buddy (Glen Houts the younger, ala RF) caught me. Ok, let’s ride with the kid. Settled into a sustainable pace in light of hitting the deck pretty hard and by the climbs on the south end was able to re-up my pace appropriately through the finish of my 3 laps. Stage 2: on course, pretty sure I was the sweeper again; objectively, the same day registrations for the XC may have bumped me slightly upwards in the GC results. I’ve got some things to work out both mind and body before my next go round at Maskenthine in early June but looking at my raw numbers also found a few petit-victories to deposit.
Overall, April has been good to me on road and dirt. I came in with good fitness and a plan that tilted mostly in my favor when the dice were actually rolled. A break from racing is in store for the next 5 weeks due to my best girls’ graduations – Hannah from Sioux City West High School (bound for College of St. Benedict) and Dora from Briar Cliff University’s Masters of Nursing program. The next competition swing looks to be the Minnesota Memorial Classic road events, Norfolk race weekend (Maskenthine MTB and NE State Criterium), Ponca’s Revenge, and Babcock Memorial Road Race.