In order to begin the story of camping and racing at Ponca, NE one has to start Thursday night and rather uneventful TNR. Tranquility was the place, It was hot and humid and quite windy. Recent heavy rains have made some erosion progress on the prairie portion of the course. On the south decent I heard a pop in back of the bike but proceed to ride it for about another 10 seconds. Until Jeremy yelled at me to stop and check the wheel. I though it I have broken several spokes but no this was the end result.
What a bummer not only I had to walk with bike for about mile I had no ride for Saturday’s race. Trek Omaha and Chris Wolff came to the rescue. After begging, pleading and bribing Chris I walked away with replacement bike for Saturday, not just any bike but pretty sweet top fuel 9.8 Everyone’s comment was so you going to ride 26 inch bike. Well it might be small wheels but it is a lot faster than me running for 3 hours so yeah I had bike to race. The only bad thing I could see were the stock tires, not exactly best choice for tacky trails. This would prove to be an issue on first couple of laps. Megan and I piles our stuff into the car and went on camping. Feagans, Larry and his kids, and Bergrmans were already there. Jesse was pimping sweet new carbon cannondale. After good dinner we went to bed.
Saturday I had to get up early and make sure the small wheels bike was set up right. Heck I even went for ride, and it was interesting. I had to figure out how to climb on this sucker as it’s careful act of balancing your body to much of a forward lean and your back wheel will start spinning out, too much back weight on the front end would start bouncing like it was possessed. I think I got the basics of how this worked. We lined up for marathon and the gun went off I believe I was in 5th place into the single track, That was pretty much the only time I saw Ryan as well…bummer. The trail was still slick so first climb I spun out and got passed by 2 guys. Then on the super slick roots part I spun out again and got passed again.. At that point I was both a) cussing at the bike b) apologizing to the people behind me for messing up their momentum. Quick run up the hill and I was set. I think Roxy was laughing at my constant cussing for about 3-4 minutes. We got to top of the climbs and it was time to make up the gap. Surprisingly everyone was less than 10 seconds ahead of me. What the hell? I though I would be at least 20-30 seconds down, I guess people were not really taking advantage of the donwhills to get gaps opened up. When we came out of the woods I made up 4 places and was back sitting in 5th or 6th place with Roxy right behind me. The pool climb would ensue I passed 2 more guys and was sitting in rd place behind Shaun from Lincoln, at the feed zone I rode by him and was not in second. He grabbed my wheel and asked me where was Ryan, I said I have not idea. At next lap I would gain on him on the climbs and he would close the distance on the descends( yup he was on the 29er) Eventually I pulled away from him, and to be honest with you didn’t really see anyone except for Anne, and top of cat 1/2 group on their first lap. I had no idea what the gaps were, I knew Ryan is probably smiling and posing for anyone with a camera in hand. I knew there were still some people behind me who could close the gap so I maintained solid tempo.
The most memorable part of the ride was Nate passing me and asking for permission to pass. Small wheels and Metal Kit must of thrown him off, from what I understand Nate, Jesse and Scott were treated with some lead on way to town.
At the end of lap 8, Roxy passed me on the pool climb, I asked here if she knew what the gaps were. She didn’t know, then it was over I came in second place. The bike handled great for most part, it climbs like a mountain goat and it is pretty compliant for smaller wheels size, once again thank you for letting me borrow that bike for day, Trek Omaha hooked me up fat that’s why they are top shop in town in my opinion . Thank you Megan for being awesome support side kick that was sweet I think I might of stopped for total of 1-2 minutes. Most importantly thanks local volunteers that worked on the trail and made it super fun for us city slicker. Congrats to MOD and Chris Wolff on good finishes. MOD dropped chain 3 times and still finished second in cat 1 race. wow
That night we drank beer and eat smores we watch night sky without any ambient light present. It was great. I’m off to chicago this friday for some single night out with some friend. Not before THOR FUNdraiser Thursday night.