Early on Saturday morning, Regina Campbell (Half Acre / Twin Six) and I headed out from my childhood home in Long Beach, Indiana where we had stayed the night to Warsaw, Indiana for the first DINO Series MTB race of 2011. We were unsure of the weather and course conditions we’d encounter as the thermostat had just taken a massive dip while also ushering in a constant smattering of rain and wind across the region. In fact, our drive to Warsaw was predominated by rain… however, we kept in mind that the weather report for the race was looking positive and that it would be held rain or shine as the course tends to hold up fairly well to precipitation. By the time we arrived about an hour before race start, the skies were beginning to clear and the temperature was warming nicely. Score!
My brief pre-ride confirmed that the course had withstood the deluge and was in really nice condition. Despite being so early in the season I was feeling fairly good about my fitness level and general preparedness for the race. Bonebeller Paolo Urizar and I had tackled Saw Wee Kee Park in Oswego the week prior and if I could handle the technicality of that trail system, then this was going to be a relative breeze.
The combined fourteen Cat 1 & 2 women lined up and were off following the waves of Cat 1 & 2 men. Out of the starting gates and around the first turn I was about 2/3 back as we entered the singletrack. One gal and I played cat and mouse for the first quarter of the course; I was faster on the climbs, she was faster on the downhills and flats. Being of an athletic build, I was determined to not let this “skinny legs” gal beat me. But alas, she ended up pulling ahead and I wasn’t able to catch back up to her. (I learned later that she is an active triathlete.)
This was my first race on my new 2011 Pivot Mach 4, the first full-suspension bike I’ve owned. Prior to this race I had very little trail time to get used to the new rig and the differences between a hard tail and FS, however I kept playing over in my head some of the tips Paolo had given me the week before. Point your front wheel the direction you want to go on downhills and let the bike do the work. Easy on the brakes; no brakes if possible. No need to fully shift your weight back when descending. Shift your weight forward to clear obstacles. The trail system at Warsaw is overall fast and flowy singletrack and includes some tricky switchback climbs and descents. Overall I felt pretty confident on the bike which also happens to be a blast to ride! My energy was waning a bit at the end – still need to work out the amount of hydration and nutrition I take in – but I finished strong, and in 2nd place of the Cat 2 women! Woohoo!
We had several podium-wins from the good number of Chicagoans in attendance representing The Bonebell, Half Acre, Johnny Sprockets, Kinky Llama, Bicycle Heaven, and possibly others. The weather ended up being nearly perfect, albeit a little humid, and we stuck around for the awards ceremony at the Fat & Skinny Tire Festival in which this race participated. It was also nice to catch up with DINO race directors Amanda & Brian Holzhausen – Amanda was one of my roommates at Purdue where they first introduced me to off-road cycling. Later when they purchased the race series, I began racing (and running the website and results for) DINO.
Overall a fun day, awesome riding, great company, and surprisingly nice weather – although of course it rained on the way back home, which was fine by us!