Wednesday, August 27, 2014

'Cross Pre-Season in Iowa

That's right, after a long spell of no racing it's time for a little injection of race pace and practice at speed so I (and Dale) opened our 'cross season with what I am calling 'pre-season race workouts'.  So with that in mind Dale and I headed to Iowa.

I laugh at how many were saying 'it's August, way too early for 'cross', but are you serious?!?!?!?  That's like saying Christmas comes to soon, there's too much flavor in this steak, ...  Put on a 'cross race in June and I'd be there.  Long and short - if that's what a person loves then it's never toooooo early.

Altoona (suburb or Des Moines) had two days (Friday evening and Saturday) of true 'cross racing, Palooza Cross, put on by the Sakari Race Team.  Hopped into work Friday morning for a bit then we hit the road for 5.5hrs and before you know it we pulled up at the venue and was pleasantly surprised to find a nicely laid out course with a little bit of everything (minus climbing - super flat) that makes a course interesting and challenging: power straights, tons of turning, plenty dismounts, sand/dirt mounds section, and a cool large berm.  Perfect for the Clement MXPs

It was hot and super humid with heat index way over 100*.  Yes that sucked, but it sucked for everyone and my first race (Masters 45+) was only 30 minutes so lets get this on.  Three masters fields (35+, 45+, 55+) were sent off in 15 second increments and each class had 7 to 10 riders per.  Whistle goes and quickly settle in behind a guy driving a decent pace as we start moving through the 35+ class and before you know it Jim Cochran (local Iowa stud and 5th at 'Cross Nats last year) and I up the pace and move to the front.  Due to the heat my HR was pretty pegged right below the danger zone so I kept a steady tempo going as we made our way through lap one; we opened up a pretty good gap.  Half way through lap 2 Jim put in a couple digs and opened a gap on me that held for a couple more laps with him taking the win and I 2nd around 30 seconds or so back.  I made a choice early to not make too many surges or digs to keep some energy in the tank for the Open race later in the day. 

My kit was soaked with sweat straight from the start

Friday Masters 45+ Podium

Dale finished his 55+ race in 2nd and felt really good with his effort.

Was a really fun and flowing course; great workout #1...

Hung out (in the shade) for the next couple hours before it was time to go again in the Open race (60 minutes).  It was 9:45pm, the humidity was still high, but the temps had dropped into the upper 80's which felt awesome after the 5pm race.  18 guys toed the line and after a quick start I found myself around 10th-12th place half way through the first lap.  Legs and lungs felt pretty good and was able to start pushing the pace harder and started moving through a handful of guys and by the end of the race I finished 6th.  Efforts and driving was good on a lightly damp (from dew) course and the Clement PDX on the front was a good choice (MXP on rear).  One out of the money...

The promoter let Dale and I throw up camping hammocks at the race site for the night and that was great until 3:30am when a huge stormed moved in which had us moving to a pavilion (dry cover).  Storm last right up to our masters race start at 8:50am.

(Tried to) Loosened up the legs a bit taking a couple warm up laps (course was ran in reverse from Friday) and found the course a slippery slog fest.  Debated between PDX or Rhinos, but since it wasn't full on muddy went with the PDX which was the right choice.  Wouldn't call it muddy, just soggy and energy zapping.  To the start line and found Cochran was not present, but a handful of new faces not present the day before.  A hair larger masters group for the 35 minute race and this time they grouped us all together for the start and not in increments.  Got a decent start, but felt thick legs right off the bat.  Settled into a good pace and with the course slick on every turn got in some great handling practice at race speed.  By race end I was 2nd of all masters and won my 45+ category.  Dale finished 2nd again and was happy with the effort.  Tough, but lots of fun.


Dale was killing it through the same.  Game Face!

Flat course does not mean easy course.  This was Saturday's
Masters 45+ 'podium'; 2nd and 3rd was no where to be found...

Dale and I picked up our swag, jumped in the car and 5.5hrs later were back home.  Both of us agreed it was an event worth heading back to next year.  Well worth the driving to get the pistons pumping at race speed.  I was no where near fast or with much zip in the legs at this event, but for me at this early point I'm didn't expect to be; it's still pre-season...

Up next is Wild Trak Superprestige (another pre-season event) on Sept 6/7th in STL (actually the IL side of the river).  After that it's full on race season starting with Dogfish Cross Hermann (a staple for any and all MO, KS, and IL racers).  Looking forward to seeing Jeff and crew as his events are great.

 Couple more pics: