Battle Royale at Platte

Hot & humid pretty much sums up the Platte River State Park race this year. Not my favorite weather. At least most of the course is shaded…

Pre-race. Soft trail, no point in warming up for the marathon. Photo: Jeremiah Grell
Cruising up the climb on lap 1. Photo: Jeremiah Grell

The race itself, well it started a little hectic. Lemans start, and my pump went bouncing out of my jersey, had to run back to get it. Climbed much better on my 1×10, floating past people spinning their granny gears. Lost contact with Anne right after the rock garden on lap one after a bunch of messy Cat 3 traffic. (Guys, please just cat up instead of getting frustrated with us when trying to pass. I am looking for good spots for you to get around, but I’m racing too, you know.) I also made the mistake of goofing off too much at the start line, forgetting to eat something right before we started. I crashed in gully the first time through, slamming the nose of my saddle into a very sensitive place. By the end of lap one, I was hungry and already feeling dehydration seeping in.

Faceplant root on Yun2, still ahead of Anne at this point. Photo: Jeremiah Grell

I regrouped in the feed zone, and Roxy let me know Anne was about a minute up on me. I dug into the climbs, but I just didn’t feel like I had it in me to mount a successful chase. A secondary goal, however, was taking more risks, and Platte is the perfect course to do that. It is varied, technical, beautifully hand built, and very challenging for a beginner. I think the best thing about racing there this year was having tons of fun on sections that felt well above my ability just a year ago. Take the section Yun2, remembered for last year’s faceplant. This year, I went flying through those dips, getting my stomach to flip up that way you get when driving a little too fast over rolling gravel roads.

It was great that Cycle Works had so many volunteers stationed all along the trail, many of them buddies of mine fresh off of completing TransIowa. I enjoyed chatting with Scott as I scampered through the rock garden, Bruce and Aaron in the gully, and others wandering from place to place throughout.

I am not posing intentionally. I am merely smiling for Kyle Hansen’s camera and taking a chance to stop. Photo: Kyle Hansen

Lots of marathoners were taking big breaks in their camp chairs between laps. The heat was really brutal, with temperatures well above 90 with humidity of 90% or so. After lap 3, which had been pretty solitary, I rolled out with Rafal, who was really struggling in the heat, and my racing buddy from last year, Scott Noel. I think the Cat 1s and 2s were on course at this point, but I’m not really sure. Lap 4 involved a couple stupid crashes, and in the last third of it, even with an hour left, I was struggling with whether to go on. As I came into the feed zone, though, there were Emily & Megan, calmly pouring water over me, filling my bottles, getting me stocked up, and just very subtly preparing me for a fifth lap. “This is what having a race wife must be like,” I thought.

Trying to cool off in the feed zone with a frozen water bottle. Mildly successful. Photo: Emily Hoesly

So off I went for lap 5, otherwise known as my Usher Raymond “Nice n’ Slow” lap. All I had to do was finish. Mark flew by me with a huge lead in the 1s, harnessing the gnarness. I stopped to pee in the woods (this is becoming a trend in hour four…), and I slammed my way through the gully and last open section, finishing at 4 hours, 5 minutes. Last year, I did one lap less in about the same amount of time and in way less heat. 17th out of 28, 2nd in women’s. Major props to Anne on the win, and to Jen Deep, cranking out 4 laps with a smile on her face til the end.

Podium style, with henna & a Ranger in a War Axe koozie. Photo: Michael McColgan

I love my bike race family. Big thanks to Corey, who found me right after I finished and brought water, beer, a veggie burger, and tons of ice water for my head. Don’t think I would’ve eaten otherwise, as shellshocked as I felt. It really is awesome to be part of this community.
Chillin’ with villains Rafal, Noah, and Megan. Photo: Emily Hoesly

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