Mullin's DirtWirx Race Report

Who's dumb idea was this anyway?  I thought that more than once Sunday while riding around Hillside Park in Elk River.  The answer of course was it was my idea.



With a rare weekend off of work on tap for Starr we started looking for things to do a few weeks ago.  As was previously covered, I was already in for riding the bike leg of the Stower Seven Lakes Triathlon.  A little more investigation and we saw that the MN MTB Series was racing at Hillside in Elk River this weekend.  My son had fun at the Woolly Kids Comp, Starr has been training with the Herr Batti girls, and I haven't raced my mountain bike in a few years so we thought that sounded like the ticket.

Prep

Race Selection

Having never ridden at Hillside we made it our Saturday morning adventure a few weeks ago.  We rode sections 1-3, then 1 and 2 again.  I know I have mentioned it before, but I am not a strong technical rider.  In my limited opinion, Hillside was very technical.  After our exploratory ride, we both decided racing there probably wan't for us.

Fast forward a week and we still hadn't identified an alternate plan and the wheels kept turning.  In the end we decided to play it by ear and if the weather was good we would throw caution to the wind and sign up.  I had been debating Citizen or Sport.  Three years ago I raced the Woolly Sport race.  It wasn't a complete disaster.  Then I decided to race the Comp race the next year.  I was second to last or close to it.  So based on past results I thought I should just race Citizen since the course did not play to my strengths if I have any on a bike.  But ego got the better of me and I signed up for Sport.

Physical Prep

As mentioned in my previous race report, the day before this race I did a 16 mile road time trial as the bike leg of the Stower Seven Lakes Triathlon.  I followed that up with 26 miles on the Gandy hunting down Starr on her Wren ride.  By the time I hopped on my bike to spin the parking lot on Sunday morning my legs already felt tired.  Probably not the best way to start what I assumed would be an hour and a half of hard riding.  I just hoped that they would wake up a little bit as I worked into the race.

Pre-Race

My pre-race consisted of spectating a few of my favorite people in their races.  Dalton went of first in the kids comp.  This was his second mountain bike race and he was still a little nervous.  He left looking serious and came back all sweaty, muddy, and bloody again but smiling.

Pre-race Game Face
He was a little disappointed with his last place age group finish.  But he still claimed to have had fun and he said that was all that mattered.  I think I could convince him to train a little bit though and he could make improvements.

Sweaty, Muddy, and Bloody
We will be throwing some money at Todd Bauer again.  He captured a fantastic sequence of Dalton crashing in the mud.  When I told Dalton about his crash being captured on film he was really worried everyone could see it.  I told him how many times I crashed, and how may times Stu crashed, and reminded him of the two taco'd front wheels we saw in the expert race and he decided it was OK then.

After the kids comp, Starr was up for her first bike race of her life in citizen class.  Two years ago she raced her first half marathon, last year she graduated to her first marathon, and first ski race.  This year she did her first gravel century at Almanzo (first century period actually) and now a mountain bike race.  I blame the (bad) influences in her life for these choices.

Smiling at the start.
She seems pretty pleased with her results.  She was pretty nervous about riding with other people and the course conditions so she started conservatively.  Sounds like she was gaining confidence and making up time in the second half of the race.

And still smiling at the finish.
Finally it was my turn to race.  My warm-up consisted of riding to the start.

Race

I lined up at the back of the M18-39 wave.  I took it out reasonably hot, but not so hot that I got in front of a bunch of guys that would then just have to pass me on the single track.  The sport category had a prologue of the road, B1 and B2 then two laps of B3, S4, S1, S2.  Diving into B1 I was probably mid/back packish.  Probably about where I belonged.

I followed a wheel all the way through the end of the prologue.  I was focused on trying to be efficient and stick close to the wheel.  My theory being that I could follow someone and pick their line and amount of braking rather than relying on my poor skills.  What probably happened is a combination of both.  I rode faster, but I was also punching it more to compensate for more braking.

Some separation formed somewhere in B3.  I also can't quite remember, but by S4 the masses from behind started passing me.  This is the downside to being in the young age group followed by the "fast old dude" age group.  Those 40-49 dudes are fast.  And I'm slow, but even so, those dudes are fast.

Somewhere in S4 I think.  Photo Credit: Mitchel Bruns
By the time we were nearing the end of S4 I had been passed many times.  For a couple of them I just pulled over to let several guys by.  A little later it was easier to keep riding on a wider stretch of trail and wave someone through one at a time.  I was hurting pretty good already.  My HR was averaging 175+ since starting B3 and that is dang high on the bike for me.  Combine the working really hard with the heat of the day and I was melting out there.  There aren't many opportunities to drink on the course.  I grabbed a cup where I could and pulled hard on the water bottle once or twice.

I remember thinking somewhere in S2, why am I doing this?  I have another whole lap to go.  I can see where my effort level dropped as I lost a little focus in S2.

Lap - Photo Credit Starr
Starting the second lap B3 didn't go that well.  I was tired and my technical riding was degrading.  There are some tight corners in there and I was having trouble making them.

After slugging some cold water at the bottom of the slalom course before entering S4 I started getting my second wind.  With a little more focus I think my riding actually got a little better.  A bunch of mud being ridden of the course already helped too.  It was somewhere near the end of S4 that I made the only two passes I made all day.

About to enter S4 on lap two.  I've felt better.  Photo Credit: Mitchel Bruns
Oh, so I mentioned that I was consoling Dalton with telling him I crashed.  It wouldn't be a mountain bike ride for me without crashing (this is a little exaggeration now, but not by much).  I went down once in a muddy corner on the first lap.  No big deal, just plopped down on my right side.  Near the end of S1 on the first lap there is a slight downhill that right before a corner has some roots parallel to the trail.  I went down HARD there.  Upright one second, picking mud out of my ear the next second.  OK, I didn't actually hit my head, but I was on the ground in a hurry.

No idea where.  Somewhere after the first crash.  Leg dirty, tongue out, but it looks like I'm fast.  Photo Credit: Mitchel Bruns
My last crash was through S4 the second time.  Some random downhill swishing through the trees I got all friendly with one.  My front tire washed out in the mud again and I ended up with a large tree in my armpit as I wrapped myself around it on the ground.  That one took a little wind out of my sails too.  Thankfully I didn't jack up my shoulder.

OK, S1 was uneventful the last time with the exception of nearly going down on the same roots I went down on the first lap.  I pushed S2 as best I could and finished with a reasonable amount of speed.



Post Race

We hung around for the comp/expert race and watched the fast boys and girls on the jump line.  That was fun.


I'm fine with my results.  Not enthused, not disappointed.  Given my weekend and the way the course didn't suit me I didn't expect more.  I finished 8th of 10 in my age group (9 and 10 DNFd) and 45 of 74 overall.  My time was 1:39:45.

Mullin's What's Next

Well, first of all, it is the City of Trails 10k this weekend.  This is a fun local race, we are making it the second installment of the Sasquatch Dash, and the course is incredible.  I'm pretty excited.  You should be too.

Then two weeks later is Sasquatch Dash #3.  That weekend is also the next MN MTB Series race at Cuyuna.  The course as I understand it is much more my style and could be a lot of fun.  I'm very tempted at this point to sign-up.

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