The 2 girls and I were driving around a beautiful portion of Indianapolis on Saturday and encountered 2 cyclists on the road and Cassidy exclaimed, "Bikes belong in a race, NOT on the ROAD!". I guess she's been to a lot of mountain bike and cyclocross races!
A wedding for Maggie's cousin this past weekend just happened to coincide with a DINO series race in the fabled Mid-western mountain biking mecca of Brown County, IN. With the exception of CX nationals and a SSXCWC 2009, I hadn't raced a bike outside of Missouri or Illinois since 1999, so I was really excited to be a nondescript nobody and test myself in a field that is 3-4x bigger than the expert field at local races.
It turned out that some other Missouri riders thought that the 4.5 hr drive was well worth the effort for the quality of the riding and the race, as there were 5 other St Louis riders getting ready for the 10am start on Sunday including Loraine, Christine, Tom A, John M, and Craig W. I had originally signed up for the cat 1 30-39 race, but last minute decided to see if they'd let me race with the pro/elite men.
It was really amazing to see how many people are attracted to mountain bike racing in Indiana. Even though Brown County is such a treasure and attraction, it seems to me that with 3 metropolitan areas and a few college towns and smaller cities, and certainly overall more mountain bike areas, Missouri should be able to draw larger fields. I thought a bunch about this and don't want to get into it too much here, but racing DINO made me want to invest more in our local trails and racing as opposed to traveling more to other mid-western states even though there are deeper fields and the possibility of significant payouts. I've always tried to be a 'bloom-where-I'm-planted' type of person, so I don't think I'll start traveling more anytime soon.
The race and the competition were off-the-hook. We had a fast start on a mile-long section of road with one super steep hill and another big-ring grinder. I was top-10 into the singletrack but found myself gassed from a hard week of training and at some disadvantage without any pre-ride, so began dropping places in the first lap. The hard-tail 29er Big Unit was the perfect bike and the only mistake I made was locking my fork out a few times when right after climbs there were some technical descents and I'd loose a few seconds if I didn't have time to unlock the fork. With the 20mm thru-axle up front and an all-mountain front wheel, I think locking out the fork is a thing of the past and not worth the effort unless I'm riding on pavement or gravel.
Laps 2 and 3 of the 24mile race I was pretty much in no-man's land but able to keep a pretty stable pace and was neither passing or being passed by expert riders. At the end, I was 17th out of 43 riders and about 10 minutes off pace from the leaders...satisfied with that placing. And I felt very psyched to have raced with so many fast riders on incredible trails.
Next up is the State race, then a few weeks of chilling during the week and racing on the weekends (perhaps a trip to Wisconsin for the Subaru Cup), and then the preparation for cyclocross begins!
I'm hoping to do as much as I can in the next few months for Pedal the Cause ride on Oct 1st and 2nd. Currently the plan is to do some writing for their newsletter from the perspective of a cancer survivor, medical student, PhD cancer researcher, yoga teacher, cyclist, and friend/family member of those who fought-like-hell but still lost their lives to cancer.
I used to have a huge problem in talking about a 'cure to cancer'. But am slowly regaining a less cynical view. Especially after reading reports such as this...the impossible is not always as such.