It is appropriate that my first blog post on my new coaching website comes with an update on the Kansas Fat Tire Festival and the Lake Wilson Roller Coaster. My Dad has been putting this event on for nearly two decades now. And before racing I was on the original crew led by my Pops trying to etch a trail into the grassy hillsides of Hell Creek Park of Lake Wilson. The race has been a staple on my Spring calendar and developed into a great rivalry with old friends every May. The Pro class races a 26 mile loop that weaves violently through the hills. It is a unique effort and requires fitness to go fast on these trails. You are never steady pedaling and rarely can you really jump on the pedals and lay into the power. You have to be extremely selective in where you put down the efforts and constantly focus on carrying speed through the maze of corners. There was a time this riding was second nature to me. Now living in land of climb and descend MTB racing it provides a serious challenge to adapt my race to the Wilson trails.
Another unique element for me is that I was racing my new Podium Cycles Carbon Hardtail. I have never even owned a 29er carbon hardtail and for as far back as I can recollect I have been racing dual suspension bikes at Wilson. Sure it takes added focus but it sure does feel good to accelerate a bike that weighs only a bit over 20 lbs. I have to keep it legit with 2.3 tires and a dropper post, but none the less it is the lightest MTB I have ever raced and it feels good.
I knew Garret Steinmetz and Travis Donn were motivated to gun me down. My training had been good and I am at the lightest weight I have ever been at this point in the year. I felt pretty confident that I just needed to be smooth and avoid big mistakes and I could pull out the win. Travis led us from the gun into the opening singletrack, Travis has been killing it in Training and Racing lately and I knew to pay close attention. Garret was in between us and my main man Shad Schreiner was on my hip. I knew exactly where I planned on attacking, but I planned on being in second place and not third. I was pretty proud of the crafty pass I made on Garret that got me in the position I wanted. After a steep punchy climb I came around Travis and attacked over the top. I wanted to put them in chase mode heading into the toughest techy rock section. The plan worked and I got a gap as Travis and company chased.
I was happy I felt settled into my pace and the gap remained. The trail features make it a classic "hurry up and wait" type of effort. You always have to stay on the gas but the gaps are going to open up slowly because of all the cornering. The gaps did grow steadily but slowly, Garret rounded Travis and was putting in a chase that was certainly going to keep me honest to the end. The day was the hottest I had raced in many years. Not that it was that hot - maybe low 90s - but I had been riding in full on winter gear earlier in the week. This is where home field advantage comes into play! I had a whole family of support cheering me around the trails and handing up bottles as I needed. If every race could be like that!
I opened up the gap to about 3 minutes in the end and notched a new course record. I wanted to eclipse the 1:50 mark but came up just a handful of seconds short. It felt good to improve on my time from last year by over two minutes and get a validation that all the hard work is paying off.
Next on the calendar is the Firebird in Eagle, CO. I am psyched to get out and itch my singlespeed racing scratch this weekend. With big SS races scheduled at Go Pro Games and SS Worlds in Alaska I wanted to test my race set up a few times before those events.
It is good to have a blog up and going again. It is good to be promoting my coaching services through my racing. I have a great field of athletes I am working with this year and looking to still grow our crew. If I can help YOU take a step up drop me an email or give me a ring and lets talk it over.