The annual Down and Dirty MTB race in Warsaw this past weekend doubled as the Missouri State Championship Race for 2016. Mac Vorce does a great job promoting this race and creating a fun race-day environment. I haven’t raced at this venue in four years, mostly because I am not the biggest fan of the trails there. I always seemed to be getting flats, breaking bike parts, etc. due to the terrain. Most of this trail has small (2-6 inch diameter), sharp rocks all over it. My main motivation for returning to this race this year was to ensure my qualification for the MTB Nationals in July. Between that motivation and knowing the Kansas State Championship race was the following Saturday, I really viewed this race as a ‘tune-up’ for both my new bike-fit and a test for the condition of my back/hip. So, my strategy starting the race was to take my time, prevent any mechanicals/flats and stay hydrated.
At race time, the temperature had risen into the low 90’s and the heat index was in the upper 90’s. At the whistle, I positioned myself in 4th position going into the single track. Almost immediately there was a steep climb, which allowed me to move into 3rd position fairly quickly. The remaining two riders in front of me puled away fairly quickly, but I maintained my patience. I felt certain I could hold my position from that point forward if I didn’t do something stupid. Early in the second lap, I came up on the 2nd place rider walking his bike down the trail. He had suffered a mechanical and it didn’t look like he was going to finish. A few miles later (approximately half way through the race) I had witnessed a total of 7 riders either fixing flats or walking their bikes off the trail due to mechanicals. At that point, I made the decision to back down my pace a bit more. The bottom line was I did not want to sacrifice the Nationals qualification due to making a mistake and slicing a tire. The conditions played a factor in that decision as well. The humidity was terrible, making it hard to breath and causing my hands to slide all over the grips, brake levers and shifters. I maneuvered the rest of the course successfully and held the second position in the Cat 1 40-49 age group for a State Podium finish.
Overall, my back held up better than it has lately, only getting really sore toward the very end of the race. I’m still concerned about it holding up when I’m going full bore as I hope to be at the Kansas State Race.
Race Stats: 24.4 miles, 2 hours 20 minutes, 4 blisters on my hands and an official qualification for Nationals next month!!
A thank you to Prologue Racing sponsors: RideBiker Alliance, Swiftwick Socks, Bike America KC, Rudy Project North America, Gaerne Cycling Shoes, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Crank Brothers, Life Balance Sports & Wellness, Smiles by Design, Joclyne Rivard Properties, and Vancebikelawyer!
Photo ‘assist’ by Lucas Borkowski