Sunday, July 20, 2008

Heartland SMP 3/6 hour race

Gotta love having the home court advantage. It’s not everyday that you get to race on your home trails. Living just a few miles from Shawnee Mission Park is very convenient, and those are really the only dirt trails I ride. I wasn’t planning on doing the Heartland 3hr/6hr race there since I figured it would be too damn hot and I’ve been only doing 1 hour rides. After riding the course Friday night and looking at the weather forecast, I decided to give it one more go. The start/finish area was a little ways from the trails on some freshly mowed grass and a new trail along the power line cut. It was wide open for the first mile before that real single track started so I knew it would be a hard start to control position. I got a good LeMans start and came into the bike area in 4th but had a good bike position and was riding in 3rd. Within a 100 yards on got into second behind Cowtown’s Tige Lamb. We swapped positions a couple times along the power line trail, and I managed to get into the trails in 1st position. I’ve ridden these trails enough to know that there are a 1000 different rocks to flat on, bust a rim, or just plain crash on. I knew if I had a clean trail in front of me, I could string the pack out and make the first real selection of the race. As an added bonus, I also had a shot at the Fastest First Lap and Fastest Overall Lap prizes. I put a good effort into the first lap and managed to pull out about a 1 minute lead. I could see the group behind me with Tige, Aaron Elwell, and Jeff Winkler. Plenty of horse power back there and not very far back. I kept it steady and came though lap 2 with a little bigger gap. I was drinking one full bottle every 30 minute plus sipping from the hydro pack. The heat was starting to play a factor. I had a pretty good lead going into lap 5 so I cut back a bit on the speed trying save up for that 6th and hopefully last lap. I knew Elwell could ride the last lap faster than me so I made sure I had enough left just incase he got back on. Coming along the power line trail I asked the course marshall what the time was and he said 2 minutes to 3. From that point it was about 2 minutes to the finish line so I knew it would be close to the 3hr minimum and I didn’t want to do a 7th lap. I came into the dismount area before the finish line and the clock was still at 2:59:00. I walked a bit to eat up some time but I still had about 30 seconds to kill and then I saw Elwell come out of the woods. A slight panic would have set in had I not been so dead. I waited out the last few seconds then walked across the line just as Elwell was coming in to dismount. I was more than pleased with my effort on the day. The heat and terrain definitely cooked and beat me senseless. I had to sit down at the finish for little bit just to recover as the 3hr effort left me rather inert. It was good knowing it was the last MTB race of the year for me. Time to enjoy the summer a bit and get physically and mentally ready for ‘cross season. The Heartland crew once again put on an absolutely flawless event. The organization and stucture of the event always runs like precision clockwork, and the generous awards and raffle items are much appreciated.