Today was a new event for the Midwest Fat Tire Series. The Smithville Spazz-Ma-Tazz took over for the old Lunatic Fringe MTB race. I had not planned to do this event, but since it is my home course and the trails up at Smithville are so much fun I decided to race. Question was should I race Expert or Marathon. Since I was not in the points for the series, I decided to race Marathon and see how my legs would hold up to ~44 miles.
There was a good turnout for the Marathon class with riders like points leader Nate Means, Joshua Stamper and Brendon Jenks and Lyle Riedy of 360 Racing to name a few. My goal was a top 3, but I thought deep down that if I had a good day I could win. Since it had rained about 7/10th of an inch yesterday, the trails were a little slimy in places. Overall they were in great shape as these trails drain very well due to excellent design and maintenance. I decided to go for the start and try and open up a good lead and hope that my body stayed together. I know these trails very well and on my Thursday training ride, I was flying .... posting sub 50 min laps.
I got the start I wanted and me and another rider opened up a small gap on the field. About 5 miles into the lap we crossed a small creek that had a little rock bridge in it. Well that rock bridge was slick as owl shit and I went down hard. Nothing but my ego was hurt (update: dented/cracked helmet), but I did lose about 30 seconds. I was soon chasing hard and passed back into the lead. I set it on cruise control until Nate Means bridged up to me. He got by on a hilly part of the course and led for a few miles. Once we got back to the rocky stuff I got back by Nate and lead a few more miles. I could not match Nate's pace on the hills and he soon opened a small 20 second gap on me. At the end of the first lap we were only separated by about 10 seconds.
I was feeling the effects from the heat today and soon settled into a pace that I knew I could hold for 2 to 3 more hours. I knew we would end up doing 4 laps and I wanted to try and save something for the last one. I kept 2nd place until about 1/2 way into the 3rd lap. At the time, Brendon Jenks had caught up to me and we traded places a couple of times. He would lead on the hilly and single track sections. I would lead on the technical rocky sections. Brendon stopped after a muddy creek crossing to make a quick bike repair (still don't know what was wrong with his bike) and I never saw him again.
During the race, John, Ben, Kyle and a few other Smithville regulars kept given me time gaps on how far Nate was ahead. He was just up there about a minute, but I just could not bridge up to him. Every time I tried to push it I would start to get leg cramps which lead to making little mistakes like running into trees which is not a good thing. I kind of feel bad that I let the old Smithville crew down for not bringing home the win.
I ended up taking 2nd place in the Marathon class in 3 hours 57 min. Only 3 min behind Nate. After a few hours to "digest" what could I have done differently to be 3 min faster, I decided nothing. I rode has hard has I could for my present fitness level. Nate has been doing very well this year and has basically won every Marathon class he entered in both the Fat Tire and St. Louis NORBA series. I actually feel good that I was able to stay as close to him as I did.