Thursday, September 3, 2009

East Village Crit

Contributed by Travis Jass

We wrapped up the road campaign this past weekend at the East Village crit. It was a bit overcast, and on the cool side but otherwise a great day for racing. There were 33 (all strong) riders giving it a go, including Eric and myself (Ben had a family commitment).

As soon as we took off the pace skyrocketed, with the aid of a big downhill, and never really seemed to slow up all that much. The course was pretty much down one side of the hill, a couple turns, then back up the hill on the other side. The uphill was in two sections the first section was a bit steeper and shorter then a right hander into a slightly longer but more gradual grade.

The plan, as usual, was to stay towards the front, out of traffic, and see what shakes down. Maybe I'd try something up the hill as the lap counter got low. A few laps in, with my "gravitational advantage" down the hill, I had made it to the front and took a quick, short lived flier. Nothing doing. It really seemed unsure of who was gonna make a move and who if anyone would go with. Several riders were looking real strong throughout the afternoon.

About 3/4 the way through the race I got alongside Eric who asked me how his rear wheel looked. I ducked behind him, it looked okay, like it was running true, so I relayed that message to him and again tried to advance closer to the front. With two laps to go, I was on the front and went pretty hard, I looked back at the top of the incline and I had only a short gap to Tim Putnam for NI Spin who was coming up quick with a full head of steam.

Coming down the finishing stretch with one lap to go, there was a prime to be had, but Tony Muse from Rassy's got ahead of me just before the line to take it, and with his acceleration got out in front. I was trying hard to keep contact and a couple other riders came around me after the downhill section. As we got up the hill and around the final right, everything I had was good enough for 7th, as Tim edged me right at the line.

Afterwards, turns out someone had bumped into Eric's rear wheel turning the brake caliper into the rim and causing it to drag on the rim. So he finished the last 6 or 8 laps with the disadvantage and managed a 20th spot out of 33. That is a big testament to his strength. That hill was hard enough without dragging brakes.

If my tallies are correct, between the 3 of us, there were 14 top ten finishes, 2 finishes in the top 5, and 6 podiums. With only one minor crash (Eric at Old Capitol Crit) and the minor mechanical at East Village, it has been a largely successful year. With any luck, it will serve as a good stepping stone for next season.....Travis

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Last call for MOB volunteers this weekend...

I've heard from one fellow MOBster about helping out with the race this weekend. I sure could use another helping hand or two on Sunday. Let me know if you are available and willing to help (even if you are racing, there are some things on Sunday that I could use some help getting set up or torn down). I just am trying to make final plans of who I have and what still needs to be covered.

Thanks. My cell is 515-205-4295.

And of course, it would be great to get as many MOB riders out on the trail in the race this Sunday as possible. '-]

Mass start is at 12 noon at Lake Ahquabi.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Clear Lake Bike, BBQ, and Blues

Contributed by Travis Jass

Saturday, Eric Knox, Ben Acree, and myself competed in the crit held in Clear Lake in conjuction with the BBQ & Blues festival. 21 lined up and the pace was high from the git go. We really had no strategy going in, just stay to the front and out of trouble. And trouble was to be had.

About halfway through, on a righthander turning away from the lake, I was third wheel and behind me was the screeching of someone no longer upright. I knew it was going to be close to where Ben & Eric were and as I looked back it was a guy in blue on the pavement. Later, they said he went down right in front of them. Everyone heard it and the pace got wound up right away. A few laps go by, and again trouble struck. Right beside me, coming out of the left hand following the last incident, a U of I rider got his front wheel tangled up with an A9Y bike. Not sure exactly what happened to the U of I rider, but the A9Y guy drug his unpiloted bike quite a distance and couldn't shake it loose. He ended up pulling off to the outside curb to get untwisted.

Not long after that it all seemed to start breaking up. Tim Putnam form NI Spin and Rick Noyes from ICCC and I kamikaze'd a couple corners in a row together to find that we were away from everyone else. We worked well trying to stay away and with two laps to go we knew we had it, but wouldn't let off the gas. Turning into the wind on the final lap along the lake, Tim put in an acceleration that I couldn't immediately match. I caught back on after the last turn into the final incline finishing straight but at the bottom of the hill they started laying more power down and there wasn't much left for me but to watch them go.

I was happy with 3rd, and a beer prime. Ben snuck in a prime as well getting some socks and finishing 8th. Eric rolled in 10th making it 3 top tens on the day for the MOB.

Sunday morning brought on overcast skies and rain threatening on the radar, but a total of 28 Cat 4 riders dared to give it a go anyway. As the three MOBsters were getting loose, we talked a bit of stragtegy. We decided after Tim Putnam's win in Cedar Rapids the previous weekend and a strong showing in the crit, I would be his shadow all day long. Happy to say that we only got a few sprinkles out on the course, about 2/3 of the way through.

A nice long neutral rollout got us going but it was on as soon as we hit the actual start. Right away Rassmusen (who was well represented) sent two off the front. They didn't get too far out and I found myself on the front of the pack. It was pretty early so I wasn't going to kill it to catch them right away. They might have gotten a maximum of 10 seconds when one, then two, then more came around me to catch them. I sat in towards the back, and watched another Rassmussen guy go. Again a gap formed and someone got nervous to go chase him down. This happened again and again. It never seemed to be the same one chasing them down.

The boys in black did a fine job of bullying everyone around, and nobody would let them get out and dangle to beat themselves up BEFORE chasing them down. At one point I was in the middle of the pack, Ben was on front not chasing a Rassy guy hard, when the rider ahead of me hollered "what the hell, are the MOBster's working for Rassy's?". We just figured let them hurt themselves one by one, then go get them.

I pulled alongside Tim, who I never did let out of my range, he said we were just past half way, and the rollers ahead would work for the pack getting the current Rassy fly away back. Around a turn, another Rassy guy went just before a hill with a left trun at the top. I had made my way back to the front and spun a pretty good effort starting about 3/4 the way up the hill and as I got around the turn, Tim pulled through and I looked back to see that He, I, and Rick from Saturday had a small gap and as I was back on the front again I pulled real hard to see what would happen.

I fell back into line and Tim relayed we had a Rassy guy with us as well. After my next pull, Rassy guy wouldn't pull through, and he had no reason to do so, and that move was history. I dropped to the back of the pack and just hung out a bit and got some gel down. When everyone got situated after the final turn on beautiful new pavement I made my way to the front where Eric was dragging everyone into the wind. I thought I was feeling good, so I said we would get it going from there on in.

I put in a pretty serious effort for what seemed like a long time but only maybe lasted 60-90 seconds or so. I pull over to let followers around and Eric leads the charge saying we had a few miles to go yet. I look back to see the whole group single file moving right along. I got in line 6 or 8 riders back and recovered well, and we passed a very animated traffic marshall letting us know we were down to 1 mile to go. I went inside to see that a Rassy guy was starting to go a bit, followed by someone in white, and then I got in third wheel.

I sat behind them only a few seconds and put in everything I had left. I never looked down or back, just head down, full steam ahead. The finish line wasn't approaching quickly enough and I just sensed a mass from behind. As the back of the pack got around me the field sprint took off. I was cheering on Ben and Eric, but I was far enough back they probably couldn't hear me. At the end Eric was just nudged out of 3rd and Ben was 8 again. I eased on over the line second to last.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

"Mob the Quab" is once again on the 2009 IMBCS XC race schedule...

Just an early shout out to all MOBsters to make sure you put August 9th on your calendars for the Lake Ahquabi "Mob the Quab!" XC race. It is the IMBCS #7 XC race for the 2009 season.

This year will run a lot smoother than last year (which went pretty well as it was) because I have learned from the experience. The trail is in good shape. I am posting this a month early in hopes of getting some volunteers to help out with the actual race. And to get interest from other MOB racers to come out and race. I haven't seen too many MOBsters out this season at other mountain biking events. It would be nice to get a few more out there.

The start/finish line will be different this year (and easier) as it will be a mass start for all groups and the final climb to the finish line will give those doing the timing plenty of time to see number plates and enter the information. I will not mark the course in such an anal fashion as last year to save on set up and take down time. We'll cut back on the food and drink a bit to keep it all simple and easy. I'll come up with something, but last year's spread was overkill.

Here's the website of the race with all of the details. Let me know if you would be willing to volunteer on some level. Timers, course marshals, registration, clean-up crew, etc... are up for grabs. My wife and kids (and a couple of their friends) will make up the core of the volunteer base.

I'm off to the WORS race in Chippewa Falls this weekend. After a late start to my training and the XC race season, I am finally feeling like I am in form for racing. I raced my first ever Minnesota Off Road Series last weekend at Mt. Kato outside of Mankato, MN. It was a beautiful course and perfect weather (80 degrees and low humidity with a nice cool breeze). It was tough with 130 sport racers to jockey for position on the starting line with all of the call ups (top 5 in every age group got to go to the front), but I really enjoyed the course and the competition.

I haven't posted any race reports this year, but so far this season:

Bone Bender 3 Hour - 4/18 [DNF due to mud]
IMBCS #3 - 5/31 Banner Lakes [DNF tubeless valve broke]
IMBCS #4 - 6/7 Morehead Pioneer Park [6th Place CAT 2 Open]
Psycowpath #5 - 6/20 Ponca's Revenge [14th Place CAT 2 Open]
MNSCS #4 - 6/28 Bluff Riders Charge [56th Place CAT 2 Overall (130 racers!!!); 9th Place CAT 2 45-49]

At Mt. Kato last Sunday's race...



Bluff Riders Charge at Mt. Kato


Thursday, May 28, 2009

The MOB at the Memorial Day Races

Contributed by Travis Jass

Snake Alley Criterium

The Snake kicked our butts once again this year. We got there plenty early and enjoyed a beautiful morning watching some of the early races, even my oldest got in on the action in the kids race.

Eric Knox and I rolled out to warm up and wouldn't you know it, clouds rolled in and light rain began falling. We lined up and went hellbent for election with the starting whistle. As we approached the Snake, I got a bit timid and people got around me easily, but I didn't fall back too far. On the backside, just tried bombing it to gain position, but everyone else had the same idea.

After a couple laps, I was out of contention, but wouldn't let myself believe it. I just kept forcing the pedals over, and somewhere around the 5th or 6th time up, several riders and either crashed, or unclipped and started pushing, and after I navigated around them, it gave me more motivation to keep digging in.

Somewhere around lap 9 or 10 I was just in survival mode. It ended up that they started pulling riders right after I crossed the s/f line on the bell lap so I ended up 2nd to last on the lead lap.

Post race, as we watched the podium, Eric told me he was fried after 3 or 4 laps, but he wasn't very far back at the end. As much as it hurt, and as much as I curse that thing, it is still one of my favorite races I have done, and if all goes well, I'll be there next year again trying to beat the bricks again.

Melon City Criterium

It was my first time dong the Melon City Crit, and to be honest, when I heard it is held in a place called "Weed Park" I wasn't expecting it to be as great as it was. A beautiful, family friendly venue for a race.

As I did a warmup lap, I find that at the bottom of the sweeping left hander hill, there is a speed bump that we get to go over. I know I lack good handling skills, so I start getting psyched out a bit. I just tried to remember to hit it square every time and I would be fine. Ben Acree made it over to join Eric and I, and we got in a good warmup before singing Greased Lighting on the s/f line to calm nerves.

We took off and immediately the pace was high. The leg burn set in right away, but nearly everyone else raced the day before too, so their legs were no better I thought. After a couple laps riding near the front, someone got out a bit ahead, so on the downhill I kept in the throttle and caught and passed him but took another rider with me on my wheel.

I knew it was too early, and I was too sore to make it stick, so I sat up, and as I did, the entire field swept past. I kept contact in the back and hovered there for a couple laps, before making my way into the middle.

Halfway through the race, I was shifting form little to big ring and it overthrew to the outside. I remembered advice given to me after the Twin Bing RR when it dropped, to keep spinning and shift back and it will thread back on. I kept my composure and it did. However, on the next shift, it did it again, so when it got back on and onto the big ring again, I decided not to shift out of it again. It was only a factor after the super sharp right turn at the top of the hill where you lose alot of speed before the decline into the finish.

Eric and I both kinda floated around in the pack into the final laps. I got a bit aggressive and took a chance cutting to the far right on the climb and made it near the front with only the sharp right to negotiate before the finish. A rider got inside of me going into the turn, and the rider about a half bike length ahead of me took a gamble around the corner and went down, but was far enough outside that it didn't affect me.

Ended up coming across in 9th, Eric was midpack and Ben's lungs gave out midway. Good times were had by all.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

MOBsters that like to get dirty...

Contributed by Bruce Brown

It's time to RACE!!!

All of you dirt loving MOBsters must not miss this weekend's unique XC dirt opportunity. The event is CITA's Summerset Shootout. It's the next IMBCS race for the 2009 season and I know I've been itching to race. There is nothing like this trail in the Midwest as it is very unique due to being built on an old abandoned coal strip mine. Last year's flooding prevented the grand opening of the north side and the park was under water most of the summer due to the heavy flooding. Things have dried up and it is now set to officially open this week with signage being put up and the inaugural race on this singletrack will be Sunday, May 31st. The park is about 5 or 6 miles south of Southridge Mall in Des Moines on Highway 65/69

I did a lot of canopy trimming this week helping to get things ready so everyone doesn't get whacked in the face all day long. Since Cat 2's will do 4 laps, I went out today and did 4 laps to see what the pacing is like. Quite a few riders were out practicing and learning the trails which was great as it helps bed this new singletrack in and gets it ready for next weekend's race. There are no big hills, but a lot of very short steep climbs scattered throughout the north side. Switchbacks, jumps, banked curves, off-camber balancing acts and twisty turns. The south side of the course at Summerset State Park is flat, fast and fun.

There are a lot of thorns, so run tubeless or have slime in your tubes. And bring your mosquito repellent. You won't need it while racing, but if you stop for more than 30 seconds in this State Park - the critters will attack.

I hope to see some dirt loving team members there. CITA has done an excellent job of creating some of the most unique singletrack you will ever get the chance to ride.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Finchford Roubaix Road Race

Contributed by Ben Acree

Well, the race was Saturday May 9th in Finchford Iowa, approximately 15 miles north of Waterloo. It was a windy and mostly overcast day, which made for cooler temps to race in. The usual suspects of Eric Knox, Travis Jass and myself (Ben Acree) made the 2 hour drive over for the race, thanks for driving me over Travis, needed that extra hour of sleep to be worth anything on the bike. Just 14 hours earlier I was in Las Vegas where it was 95 degrees. Back in Finchford, the race course was a 5 mile loop, which we did 7 laps of. There were 23 in the category 4 group. Really enjoyed the course, nice short loop, not too hilly, the wind certainly played a role in the race. Eric and Travis both took a couple of fliers during the race but the wind really wasn't going to let any individual really get away for too long. In short, the main group stayed together right up to the end. The last half of the lap finished into a very strong head wind, which seemed to have worsened as the race progressed. In the last 3/4 mile of the race and into the headwind, Travis went to the front and stretched the pack out, dropping some off the back. Travis mentioned that the wind and the finally incline to the finish line really spent him. Eric was able to tuck in behind Travis for a nice lead out to finish 4th and Travis rolling in to finish in 5th place. I came in few minutes back in 12th. Congrats on the top 10 finish Eric and Travis. Check out the pics and yes that is prize money in the envelopes. Eric and Travis are now able to retire comfortably with there winnings. I am sure there is more to come this summer.