Tuesday, July 8, 2008
DINO AMBC @ Muscatauck, IN.
E.P. can dominate at will.
Zach, Drew, EP and myself headed to the DINO AMBC race this weekend at Muscatatuck State Park in Indiana. The weather the week prior was iffy and when we rolled into the park and saw that dense fog and wet pavement we could tell it was going to be slick. There was a pretty decent turnout and quite a few very heavy hitters that EP was kind enough to point out. After ironing out some tire pressure and rubbing rotor issues and a little bit of a pre-ride we were ready to go.
I got the Elite upgrade for this race due to my top three finish at it last year, and lined up on the front row. I would guess there were about 20 in the elite wave and then another 50 in the expert class. They start the two groups one minute apart but score it as an overall so the Pro/Semi/Expert Elite was basically just a preferred start for me. I finished 13th overall in this race last year, 3rd in my class and my goal was for a top 10 finish and to beat Andy Messer from Indiana. I'm an in the closet blog a holic and like to know who my competition is so when I recognized the name on the registration list from Nationals I figured he should be coming onto form and would be a good target.
EP jumped everyone at the start and I managed to catch onto the third wheel of the train going up the right side. There was another train coming up the left side as there was a patch of trees in the middle. I was third or fourth going into the woods and knew it was going to be a long day when EP turned on the afterburners up the first climb and had a gap on the field in less than a 1/2 mile of racing. He calls it the St. Louis start, which is pretty much equivalent to a kick in the teeth. I was struggling a little bit to recover on the first lap and started to think that maybe I should have rested a little bit more, but I put my head down and kept going. I settled into 7 or 8th and and yo-yo'ed and was sitting on someones wheel trying to get some rhythm going and recover from the start when a guy came up from behind me and insisted on going around me only to sit on the same wheel... They weren't riding well technically and it was really my only mistake of the day not to go around them sooner. I rested up and on the first big climb at the start of the second lap I went by both of them and dropped them pretty hard and never saw them again.
The rest of the race was pretty good, but I can't say too much about it. I started to pick some guys off and then I caught up with Kenda/KHS rider, Brad Nelson, and we started to battle. Neither of us were laying down super heat attacks but were steadily turning the screws on each other for the rest of the race. I had Anthony Slowinski in my sights for quite some time but lost him somewhere around the end of lap 4. On lap 4/5 I passed up Brad and started to close in on Andy Messer and he let me pass without giving up much of a fight at the top of a climb so I was guessing he wasn't going to chase hard and just started to think about riding smart for the rest of the lap and save some juice for the end.
Going into the last lap I knew I had a decent enough lead but the climbing was so taxing I couldn't let up or not consider that cramping could ruin a good finish. I kept working on the fluids and started to buzz a little bit from the Rooster Booster... Coming down of two pouches of that after a race is no fun, but I am at the point where my body starts to crave it and responds like a match to a bucket of gasoline. I hammered out the last lap and came across the line to EP, Zach and Drew watching the clock to see if I accomplished my main goal of not letting EP beat me by more than 8 minutes... He beat me by 5.
Zach tore it up again and finished first in his age group and beat all but one of the locals that had the preferred start which is pretty awesome. Drew was out in the lead after one lap when he had some bad luck that ruined his day which sucks. EP proved to himself and some of the fastest dudes in the Midwest that when he decides to come to your town, he's coming to party down.
I am more than pleased with my form right now. I wasn't exactly primed and ready to go for this race and suffered through a lot of it, but I was the first expert overall, accomplished all my goals for this race and feel like I am still getting stronger. It's amazing to me that after a half of a season of focusing on XC racing I have made the gains that I have and know that I have been airing on the side of caution and still have plenty of room for growth. These last two races have given me the kind of confidence I need, at exactly the right time going into the main event. Wish me luck!