OK, so I was feeling a little down from not reaching my goal at the KS State Championships. The 3rd place finish at that race left a bad taste in my mouth, So I spent the following week pounding barley pops (as Burnsey would call them), Double cheeseburgers, and Chocolate Malts. It's amazing how much weight you can put on in a hurry when you self-destruct. On top of that I only put in around 7hrs of training for the two weeks leading up to Omba Caramba, and 6 of those hours were in the 3 days prior to the race.

I knew I needed to get back into the groove so I headed up to Springfield to compete in the OMBA CARAMBA, race #2 of the MWFTS. With my win at Neosho earlier in the season I'm leading the 35+Expert Category in the series.

So I arrive a little late for my standards and pre-ride only a couple miles of the course, man it was hot! 101 degrees to be exact. None of my team is at the race so I just plan on setting up a table with my drinks on it for self-hand ups. I fill my camel back with ice and water and line up with a total of 10 Experts, all but 2 are 35+ so we decide to combine for a better payout.

We line up on the road for a half mile lead up into another half mile of trail that runs parallel to the road, it's pretty open and spectator friendly at this section, with a couple bumps to catch a bit of air. I look around at the field, and I'm feeling a little intimidated seeing Mark Gullett, Cale Mcaninch (MO State SS Champ), and some other fit looking cats that I don't know.

3-2-1 go, and we are off, I have my fork locked for a standing launch and since I was one of the rare 26'Er's, I knew it might be tough to get the hole shot once the big wheels started turning. Mark jumps and takes off like a jet, so I do a monster attack around the entire field to sit on his wheel. We travel the 1/2 mile to the trail and I take a nervous look back to see only Cale near us, and I have a little bit of a gap on him. Going down the trail I stick to Mark like a tick, and he takes a glance back to see who is with him. I think he is surprised to see me on his butt because he beat me by 25 minutes the last time we met, back in November at my first Cat1 race.

Cale is now with us, and the three of us have already dropped the field with only a mile into the race. We hit the twisty stuff and Mark gets away from me, and shortly after that I bobble on a root that I didn't see, because I hadn't pre-rode this section. When I made my dab it was inevitable that Cale goes around me. He gets a 10 second gap on me, but I'm not fretting about it, because I'm getting better at gauging myself for the long haul. He gaped me, but he didn't look that threatening to me when he did it, a couple times I felt like I could catch him fairly easily, but just tried to maintain my core temperature. After 14 years working in a foundry, I know how important it is to keep the body temp down.

So towards the end of the first lap we come out of the woods and on a long stretch back to the start/finish I see Cale has extended the gap by probably 20-30 seconds. I pop the Big ring and closed the gap before we hit the single track, I came up on him so fast that I'm pretty sure he had a moment of panic when he seen me coming. I'm having some trouble with my handling skills in a couple sections and he advances a bit more.

I finish up my camel back and coming into the 3rd lap I toss it, but while grabbing for my bottle, some jackass had set a bottle on my table in front of my bottle. My bottle falls off the table and I wasn't about to stop at this point because Cale is just barely in front of me and I didn't want him to get away. Halfway through the 3rd lap Cale gets out of my sight, and I'm super hot and thirsty. So, once again I'm sitting in 3rd place and just like my thoughts at the KS state championships I'm not sure I will make it because I can feel some leg cramping coming on. The cramping was only momentarily when a change of events is about to occur. To my surprise Mark Gullet has blown up! I think he was just too hot, but I never got to talk to him after the race. I blow by him with my new found motivation, and I hear him say he's done. I put all caution in the wind and put the hammer down, just to be sure he was done. I come into the last lap and decide to do something I would never do, and that was to stop at my water table so that I could pick up my dropped bottles. Now I'm feeling really hot and dizzy so I decide to pour one of the two bottles on my head, which happens to be Lime accelerade. It was sticky,but I didn't care at this point because it had some cooling effect. I slammed down the other bottle as I rolled back into the single track for the last lap, this lap was definitely my downfall and I ended up giving up more time to Cale. I lost by 3 minutes to Cale but placed 2nd with a 3 minute gap on 3rd place. So with this placing I'm still leading the MWFTS, and my confidence is booming! I'm pretty pleased with my fitness considering I have had a few mental meltdowns this year and the start of grad school this summer has increased my stress load. Regardless, I'm back on my training plan and I'm setting some new goals for the remainder of the year. I'm really proud to be on this Ethos Team and I'm certain that the quality of the team members has motivated me to work extra hard. CYa all at Shawnee Mayhem.

-- GMapes --