There is raging speed in the new OIZ that needs to be tamed. This bike is just fast and fun to ride. It wants to go at full tilt. I know that once I break it we will be great friends.
I'm always excited to go race at Landahl. It's not my favorite, but I do think it's the best trail system in Missouri. I had a rough week of training but was feeling pretty good leading up to the race and optimistic coming off a win the weekend before. The promoters have decided to start to run these as mass starts to give everyone a shot at the top five overall purse and then break it down into age groups and payout the top five in each age group as well. Good stuff. Makes for some really competitive racing, especially when there is more than the average $$ on the line. We were sitting on the line and someone made some jokes about having not ridden there bike off road in quite some time and here I was sitting on the stallion I haven't broken off road yet.
I was lucky to get a decent spot in the first row and it was a slight up hill start on fire roads for about 1/2 mile before jumping into the single-track. The course was in pretty good shape and 95% dry, except for some really greasy spots. I'm not really sure how I did it, but I dropped my chain right off the start and it took me two dabs to get my forward motion going again and had me back about 15 spots... My first mistake, but not a very big one. I jumped up the outside and settled into about 10th or so going into the woods, which proved to be well worth it because there was some instant separation between the front group and big chase group. Someone a couple spots in front of me tried to stay on too long up a muddy, rocky left hander so I jumped off and ran around two spots. The legs felt good.
The front group was all together and surprisingly no one had gotten away clean. I was feeling comfortable until we approached this rocky ledge that I crashed off the back of on the first lap last year... I tried to follow Cam Chambers wheel over it, knowing that the local boys would know the line, but still managed to screw it up and lost a couple seconds. When I popped out in the field the front end of the lead group was about 15 seconds ahead, in the middle of the field and I was about 5 seconds off the tail. I counted about 8 guys and wasn't stoked but felt confident I would be able to work my way up a couple spots.
I started to close in on Mark Cole and a GF 29'er Team rider. I was dangling off the back of them and every time I would get close they would open up the gap a little, but were always in sight. Other than some poor riding I was able to keep the bike upright for the rest of the first lap.
By the second lap I had caught up to Marks wheel going up the first long climb and he let me around him at the top. I wasn't ready to go on the offensive yet and he was staying on my wheel until I made another mistake and he passed. I just wasn't riding well or used to the bike yet and it was a bad combination. The GF 29'er rider was pretty much out of sight at this point but we had passed Kent McNeil with a flat and Cameron Chambers who had pulled the plug. I slid out on one of the rocky right handers and starting to feel like I should ride more conservatively but it wasn't bad enough to actually do it. I think the end of that lap was pretty ok and I was able to keep Mark in sight.
The 3rd lap was not so good. I basically blew my chances at my goal to land in the top five overall by spending a whole lot of time on the ground. At the start of the 3rd lap Mark and I were still battling until he crashed on one of the technical sections and I went by him. As soon as I hit the open field I started to think about opening up a gap and saw the GF 29'er rider about 15 seconds ahead. I tossed it into the big ring and started pushing. Since there was about 40 minutes to go I thought it would be a good time to for the Cheerpack Rooster Booster and I reached back to grab it. My front wheel caught the side of the rut at about 25 mph and before I knew it was time for liftoff I was somersault through the field. I thought about telling Scott Ogilvie to watch out for them at the Rapture in Misery race last year and then watching him yard sale on the first lap and made me feel like a fool. I was shaken up but ok so I jumped back on and got the speed going again.
I started to resume the chase and managed and caught a glimpse of Kent McNeil coming up from behind me. He had flatted earlier and was coming on strong. When he passed he was going so fast that it motivated me and the legs started to turn over again nicely. We started passing some sport riders at pretty high speed and came up on the GF 29'er rider and I was pretty stoked to have regained the place I lost to Kent. I guess I got a little too excited and tried to rail one of the sweeping left handers without the brakes when my front wheel caught and high sided me into the dirt. At least it was nice dirty dirt. Ironically my two biggest crashes on a mountain bike this season came on the same lap. It wasn't pretty.
The last lap was actually good. I don't remember making any big mistakes and was standing up and pushing hard out of each turn, pushing a bigger gear than I should, just trying to leave it all out there. The legs were good and although I was tired I was far from slowing down. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough and I was only able to hold onto 6th overall
and 4th in a super competitive 30-39 age group.
laps (1) 21.07 (2) 22.40 (3) 23.04 (4) 22.28
(little edit there from the math genius!)
Looking at my times today was definitely a bummer. Avg lap times were 22:19, third lap was OVER :50 seconds above average on my third lap was a race wrecker. You do the math. On the bright side, there was some serious competition there and other then the smoke show Steve Jarrett put on I wasn't too far off the pace of the locals. It sure is a bummer but it's a part of racing so I can only look forward to going back in two weeks.
Overall I had a great time riding out there with Tom and Wes. Tom won his race and did more laps than any other expert! My man Zach had the race of the season which ended up in him waxing some fool in a sprint finish. Drewby had a bad day, but like myself, luckily the bad day for that rock star was just a lower spot on the podium. The Scwitzer was having fun and setting off car alarms in the process, and it was nice to chat with Ralph Phremmer about his racing calendar. The Team Seagal riders were out there and snapped some wrists to get up on the podium, giving out free PBR's left and right on the way there. Now that's sportsmanship!
And I am raising my PBR to my twin brother Matt Keeven for waxing me by 40 seconds in 3 laps on his way to a decisive RIGID 29'ER SINGLESPEED CLASS VICTORY. Domination folks. Watch out. I'll have what he's having.