Thursday, October 25, 2007
Another state, another series
While searching for more mountain bike races this season I came across a race called the Lakeland 250 which was part of the Midsouth Endurance Series in TN.It was a 250 minute race at a gerbil track outside of Memphis the same day as the Land Between the Lakes race, but this one was longer and had enough money to interest me, so I went.
The loop was only 3.5 miles long but had some serious climbing. We ended up with 6400 feet in just over 4 hours. 3 laps at Council Bluff would be about 3,000 feet and take most folks about 4 hrs if that gives you any idea.
The PAYDAY was as follows- 1st $150, 2cd $100, 3rd $50 and then another $50 for the fastest first lap. I had visions of Rendezvous Ribs on the ride home and covering my gas and hotey...
There was a pretty good turn out considering there was another great race less than 2 hrs away in Kentucky as well as the Womble Classic in Arkansas. It was a mass lemans start for the classes; under 39, over 39, singlespeed and womens.
I made it up the hill to my bike first and had a little laugh when I saw the good ol' local boys had turned my bike around but still made it into the woods first and opened up a little bit of a gap by the top of the first climb. This course was cool because there were plenty of places you could look back and see your competition to get time splits. I was feeling pretty good right away and had about a 10 second gap. I was riding nice and smooth and the effort was coming easy. I was really surprised when someone caught up to me at the end of the hills section of the course. The next section was some tight singletrack and then some double track before the finish. I slowed up just enough for him to want to pass and then jumped back on his wheel; I didn't want to hit the double-track first. He put in a little extra gas trying to shake me but let up when he realized it was going to be a head to head sprint for the last mile or so...
We hit the double-track and I realized this guy was no stranger to match sprints when he started looking back at me and slowing up. There was one more super tight section of single-track before you popped out by a lake and had a long run in to a sharp right onto a gravel road and another left into the finish. I sat on his wheel and tried to jump him on the straight. I didn't get any kind of a gap and he was turning 29" wheels on the flat which was to his advantage. I took the right hander onto the gravel wide and opened the door for him to pass, which he did, and then got back on his wheel. After the next left hand turn there was a gate and it narrowed up to the finish line. When we passed through the gate I jumped him to the outside and had enough of a kick that I was going to be in the money. Then I saw the rut from the erosion.... I let up to avoid crashing and lost the prime...
In the lead
The next couple laps were recovery for both of us. Unexpectedly about 45 minutes in he let me ride away. I didn't really attack or anything, just sort of rode away from him until I got around the next corner. Out of sight, I attacked. Things started to fall into place for me. I had opened up a decent lead and was able to get a split every lap along a long straight portion of the course. My legs were really heavy from the lack of real training but I was keeping my lap times pretty consistent. My lead kept growing until it was about 1 min+ and I noticed that he (Russell Griffin) had been caught by his teamate which was really bad for me; two people on the flats could make up some serious time.... Which is exactly what happened. One lap I had close to a minute and the next was down to about 20 seconds. When Russ caught me on a climb I was really surprised how fast he dropped me. I didn't react and just kept making pace. That was at about the 2.5 hour mark.
Not in the lead
I can't say that I'm used to this kind of racing. Most of the MWFTS races and 12 hour races this year I would get a lead, stay consistent, watch it grow a little up until the 3 hr mark and then watch it open up... This was serious racing. I tried to focus on consistency rather than get caught up in chasing. I figured he had to crack. He didn't. As we neared the last 45 minutes or so I slowly began to reel him in. I started to gain some ground and thought I was going to be able to pull it together. Towards the 4 hr mark I started to feel better and push a little, I knew I was going to make it in before the cutoff and wanted to save enough for the extra lap.
I opened it up on the last lap; I figured I had nothing to lose knowing that the third place guy was WAY behind and even if I blew up I'd still finish second... I started to close on Russ and noticed he was closer when I turned every corner....I was big ringing everything and starting to see spots and flailing on the bike....I turned down the straight along the lake and there he was... I closed a bunch of ground and took some chances on the loose gravel turns into the finish.... but it wasn't enough. I lost a 4:19 race by 12 seconds and a $50 prime by less than a second. What a great race though!
What a great event and great series. The promoter, Chris Irving, was super nice and was giving me time splits every lap. I haven't raced one out of town race this year where the "locals" helped me out. He was super friendly and had free beer, burgers and dogs after teh race. They had tons of schwag and since it was the last race of the series I stuck around for the overalls (Russ one the series overall which made me feel better about getting smoked) where they dished out some kickass trophies. At just 4 hours from St Louis I'm going to try to do the whole series next year, check it out... www.rbs-racing.com