Sunday, June 29, 2008

mankato=gratification

just got back from the trip to mankato...and it was one of those races that makes you feel completely gratified for busting your ass. the training all winter is paying off. not forgetting my timing chip is paying off. gearing choices, tire choices, nutrition, sleep...sometimes it all comes together and no matter how many people deserve thanks you know you put in the work and the miles and it just feels good to be proud. i got to mankato after crashing with some friends in roch about 9:30. check in, get dressed, pre-ride. damn it was greasy in back. mankato is a pretty standard ski hill type of race but what you start to realize is that when ridden slow its just like any other single track. but when ridden fast the trail really shines. a lot of corners have been well bermed and the climbs are all manageable especially if you can carry flow into them. for a single speed the climbs are just hard enough to force the geared group into something lower than me but doable enough to really use them to my advantage. anyway, some pretty hairy technical sections on the greasy backside put me down once on the pre-ride but ultimately that was a good thing because of the whole necessity/mother/invention thing. i was trying the newish euro chamois butt'r which has a menthol-ish cooling numbing affect on the nether regions. seems like a good idea. after my pre-ride crash my knee is a little bruised and swollen and i realize i've forgotten my icy hot. damn. hhmmmm...no icy hot but something meant for the a.b.c. that has a similar effect...why not? had a minor impact on keeping the knee limber so i've got no complaints. quick review of the chamois butt'r...dig it. worth the price. ready, set, go. 100 yard sprint to a long switchback climb to the top of mt kato. big rings leave me somewhere between 10th and 15th going into the climb but as we reach the top i pass the final gearie and move into first. i hold the lead with a guy on my tail until halfway through the first lap. i'm putting a small gap on when climbing but giving it up on the rough, rooty downhills that the suspended guys are floating over. i get passed halfway through the first lap and glue myself to his wheel. start lap 2 and back into the first climb. make my way around that guy and into first again and that was it. i rode as well as i could have. almost dabless except for a slip on a rock on a short steep effort that forced me to run about 10 feet but otherwise technically sound. legs felt great until the 4th and final lap when i realized a couple guys were starting to gain on me. we got into a section called the maze which was dead flat and ridiculously twisty. for whatever reason i sucked in here and the chase guys were always gaining on me. i pushed as hard as i dared through it on the final lap and got to the climb coming out of it with maybe a 5 second lead. the first part of this climb is too shallow to use the single to my advantage but eventually it steepened and i got myself to the top of the hill with a bigger lead and nothing but a really technical downhill which i just needed to stay vertiacl through, then a really fun ripping fast flowy up and down section that i didn't think could possibly impact the outcome. all went well and i hit the bottom of the ski hill with a sprint to the finish left and no one close to me. apparently not having to start dead last helps a bit. in my second comp level race ever i won the whole thing outright. i honestly think i was one of only two or three single speeds even in the field. i've had enough rides in my life and lately that have put me in my place that i'm far from assuming too much about this result or getting arrogant about it...but for now, it just feels damn good to win. i was hoping for top 10 coming out of a better start and everything just worked today. yeah, its gratifying. as for the guys i was racing against...got to chat with them after the race...sorry i'm terrible with names but met a local-ish dude who was very cool. i think he was the last person i passed at the top of first climb. the two guys chasing me who were both from the same team (which again i didn't catch) were very complimentary and both deserve some credit for the race they ran. at one point during the third lap i started to get a little complacent and they certainly put a scare into me during the final lap. also ran into cam who finished 2nd in the expert class following a 3rd at afton...congrats on a great stab at the minnesota races. saw jay with cam who i met down in waverly and who seems like a pretty good guy as well. anyway rambling...enjoy the two pics.

yeah...tons of perspective, but that's the ski hill as viewed from base camp.

larsson was there to cheer me on and even took a sweaty hug from me after but didn't even make it out of mankato before the day caught up with him.

3 comments:

Dan said...

Very cool Ben. Congrats on taking it all!!

kent said...

must be the i9's

Marty Shockey-Eckles said...

Way to go! I'm very proud of you and it's OK to be proud of yourself. Love, mom (who has no idea what you're talking about with the technical jargon!)