Daniel Matheny and I pedaled away from CTS a little after 4:00. We jumped up on the midland bike path and started towards downtown. It felt great to be on the bike and with a slight decline down the trail it was a perfect warm up for the legs. Daniel and I chatted and pedaled up to the race. Think about all the great fun you can have on a bike, just pedaling along catching up with a friend down the bike path is so much more fun simply because you are in the saddle. Cruising up Paseo into the park we jumped onto trail down by the stables. This was the first time I had been to Palmer since the storms smashed into the area last week. I had heard it inflicted quite the damage but this was my first time seeing it for myself. Wow! The rain and hail have certainly done a number on the trails, nothing that won’t bounce back with time and the efforts of all the volunteers performing the repairs, but none the less it is something to see. I often hear in the community a negative vibe towards racing and the supposed trail damage it causes. This is flat out malarkey, anyone that looked at the trails used in the 24 hour race could easily see all that the racers did was push sand out of the trail bed and make a better trail. Mother Nature- with less than an hour of work- can thrash what took years to establish. Nothing to bum about but it is worth pointing out.
Todd Shafer, Daniel and I, with a later addition of my fellow Kansas native Shad Schreiner rolled some warm up laps of the course. I was definitely feeling it. It was a great race course and my legs had the snap in them they were missing last Wednesday night. I was pretty amped to get this show on the road. There was some significant fire power toeing the line for the pro race. With the ProXCT series making a stop in Ute Valley this weekend we were joined by a group of Colombians that were here for the event. It was pretty cool to have some new faces and some guys that are serious chargers here to do a local event.
The race started with an uphill sprint to get position to run into the first section of trail. Doug Johnson took the hole shot. We all battled around for positions and on the road section of lap one the Colombians made a huge effort that stung everyone and strung out the race. JJ tracked them down through the singletrack and we all rolled through lap one as a big group. Lap two played out similarly, I took the lead across Grand trail but Fernando through down another massive effort and JJ and I just looked at each other neither one wanting to go sprinting after this move. Again I bridged back up to Fernando as we hit the rocky sandy descent. For some reason rolling through the start finish Fernando pulled out of the race, I imagine he was thinking more about the weekend’s festivities at Ute. JJ and I again looked at each other puzzled and rolled along together with the other Colombian dangling just behind us and Matheny chasing hard.
We hit the climb up Kinnikinik for lap three and I was at the front. “Races aren’t won by keeping it comfy.” I rolled steady but with all I had and opened up a very small gap. Taking in the situation before dropping on to Grand again I just realized I had a gap and all I could do now is go as hard as I possibly can. That is kind of a good place to be at in a race, you realize that everyone else is hurting, you are hurting, and we all are just going to do all we can. It is pure and honest and a pretty cool feeling. If someone comes from behind and beats me I just know that they have earned it but better to be me than them at this point in time. I was creeping seconds into the chasers and although I was anticipating 5 laps I was pretty happy to get the bell lap after rolling in from lap 3. A switch kind of flipped in me there and although I was not feeling peachy I started riding faster on lap 4. I unsettled into a rapid pace that fell somewhere between rabbit and rabid. Snot did hang from my face and I did blow one snot rocket onto my leg, always a good sign that you are given it all. I dropped into the final decent and was pretty damn happy to get the Win at Sand Creek Series race #2. This is the first Sand Creek Pro race I have won and to do it at Palmer Park makes me even more stoked. These are the trails that I value, riding fast over terrain like that is the rider I strive to be. I like it when a plan comes together!
No time to rest now, all kinds of events on the horizon. Ute Valley ProXCT, The Captain Super D, and of course Sand Creek race #3 July 18th back at Bear Creek. See you on the start line.