So after a pretty easy week of training Friday morning Dale and I loaded up with Focus for another three day race weekend, but this time we headed northeast in the opposite direction of last week. Six hours later we pull into the Jingle Cross venue which always brings a smile to my face as these guys believe in getting off your bikes multiple times during races.
I was looking forward to racing, but also seeing long time friend Ira Brown who moved to Montana what seems like 20 years ago (actually only 1, but you know what I mean). He was stopping in for the race weekend en route to seeing family in SE MO. After a bunch of hugs (that's right, almost kissed him too) we unloaded and set up camp. Got a prime spot on the start line next the KS Energy guys from Wisco who were super all weekend. Big (no, make that HUGE) thanks as always to the guys at ..Kuat.. who provide not only the best bike transportation devices on the planet, but also shelter for a demanding 'cross season. Neither I, nor MWI, are 'sponsored' by them, but they love to take care of cyclist and I am fortunate enough to call these guys friends. Can't say it enough, but thanks!
|Home for the weekend at race site; canopy with walls are a must|
at Jingle Cross as the wind and weather are always a factor
|For all conditions, but especially mud caked/coated a Kuat NV|
is the freaking best rack on the market
After a couple pre-race laps the recon found a new section added to the weekend which changed up things just enough to keep it interesting, but not stray too far from Jingle Cross at it's best. Day 1 we were headed up the 'run-up' of Mt. Krumpet, but with dry conditions I imagined some would be able to ride it in my Masters 45+ race. Not me; it was much quicker and steadier to simply shoulder and run (relative term) it.
With number 820 figured I would get a third row start and sure enough there I was... until for some unknown reason an empty spot on the 2nd row grid opened and the official told me to hop in - sweet! Gun goes off and so do we. The start is wide open and goes for quite a ways before a gentle right hander so there was plenty of time to position well. Turn, go, turn, go, over the flyover, and before I knew it we were heading up Krumpet. Ran next to a guy who rode it, but he was fried after that effort and dropped way off (I'm sure it was impressive for the crowd, but not for his results I imagine). Back onto the bike and found myself in the top 7 or so and feeling really good. Couple laps went by and I was in a three-man chase group in 3rd. Made a silly bobble in the cattle barn and a Cal Giant rider went clear getting a gap on us. I recovered and put the gas down (dropped the guy in our initial group) trying to bridge back, but little by little he was pulling away. Going into the last lap I was in 4th with the Cal Giant guy out of reach and after a quick inventory behind figured I had my spot sewn up so I backed of pace just a tad knowing the weekend would be long. Almost on the finishing straight and out of no where JW Miller passes me with the hammer down. What the heck, I knew there was a guy kind of close, but thought he was in the masters 35+ race (tons of people all over the course)?!?!?! Having not buried myself on the last lap I had more than enough to jump on his wheel and take him in the sprint to the line finishing 4th (which snagged a little cash). Legs, lungs, and body felt great and knew this weekend was going to be fun.
Cleaned up, caught Ira racing the 3's, then we all hung out and spectated the rest of the races that evening. So much fun catching up with Ira and watching the big boys making it all look so easy.
|Ira, myself, and Dale inside the Sand Barn. If you haven't been |
here some things on the course are hard to explain
After a late dinner we all crashed knowing the morning races were not far away.
Relaxed early morning as I didn't race until 11:15am. Headed over to the fairgrounds (race site) and took in a couple warm up laps checking out the changes. All was the same except the new southwest side of the course had a new climb taking us to the top of Krumpet. The new section was pretty cool as it dove back into the wood over a bridge then there were a series of short steep punches up each followed by a short decent then up again (rinse and repeat)... demanding to say the least and with my lack of climbing ability I knew this would suck. Once on top it was THE classic switchback decent on the east face of Krumpet. Hard to explain how 'off camber' the straights and the extreme drops of each turn. You quickly can see how can 'drive' a bike and who 'rides' a bike. The rest of the course was standard Jingle.
With my top 8 finish I earned a front row start which is always nice and beneficial. Gun goes off and day 2 is under way. Felt solid again and surprising after the first time up the climbing sections I am in the top 10 (way better than expected). Continued to ride at a pace within myself and by the last lap I was in 6th with 5th place just in front of me (the Cal Giant guy from the day before). He was struggling up with climb so by the top I made contact and set in until we hit the lower north infield. Figured I would let him pull me to the line, but as we entered the long open straight he look back and looked cooked; I jumped hard around him and his tank was empty leaving me to finish 5th (another day in the $$$).
Like the day before we caught Ira's race then hung out spectating the fast kids (and gals). After that it was an early dinner and hanging out in the room taking it easy.
Day three was another 11:15am start which gave us time to leisurely grab breakfast and take in most of the Sven doing his thing at the Super Prestige.
Over to the venue which found it soaked from the night's rain, but not near as bad as I've seen in the past. Got out on course to check out the changes; was happy to see the 'run-up' back in play with a little bit of climbing on to the top before a fun decent to the floor. Pretty straight forward and similar to days prior but with the muddy condition I opted for the Dugast Rhino's with a couple lbs's dropped instead of the Clement MXPs. Warmed up while Dale did his thing in the 55+ event and before you know it we were at it again.
My best start of the weekend slotted me in 2nd after the gun and maintained it thru the first passing of the pits before a handful went by and I latched on. By the time we hit mid-way up the slop of Krumpet I knew I had solid legs again and as before reminded myself to 'ride within my abilities' and not go into the RED (yet). After two laps I was in 5th with 4th (Cal Giant guy) repeating Saturday's race and coming back; front two were gone and 3rd with a healthy gap. On the third lap I made huge inroads toward him up Krumpet and actually smiled a bit knowing the next lap I could pass him, but then it happened on the north infield... my first 'mechanical' of the season; rear tire went immediately flat and it was way to long from the pits to reach and still compete so with a smile on my face I called it a day. Bummed for about 30 seconds then satisfaction of a solid weekend took over and all was OK; I mean with this being my 1st bike issue in 18 'CROSS races its hard to be upset.
|Mid-climb looking down (notice how small the folks are by the barn)|
and the below pic is midway up and yes, it is as steep as it appears
|Prior to hearing the POP and below is |
afterward doing the 'walk of shame'
Loaded up, said quick goodbyes to friends, and six hours later pulled into the homestead in Bolivar. As always tons of hugs and love from my crew as I came into the house; that never gets old!
So races 16, 17, and 18 are in the books. Roughly one month to go in my season which will get a couple events in the KC area in a couple weeks and then the MO State race in STL on Dec 8th. Having way too much fun again and so thankful being able to race a full season so far.
So on the family front: last night Darion participated in his 2nd grade musical and was fantastic. He and Deb picked out clothes for it over the weekend and he just had to wear a tie (funny stuff).
|I have got to work on my 'smile'...|