10 February, 2016
What a weekend, normally there’s only one race per weekend, but this weekend there were TWO…kicking off the weekend on Friday night was The Snow Bully Fat Bike race in Iola. The second race was race #2 of Broken Spoke Bikes Snow Crown Fat Bike Series race Koldwave in Sturgeon Bay.
Friday night at Iola was Brutal. Everybody says this is good Fat Bike Birkie Training… well guess what, if the Fat Bike Birkie is like the course on Friday, I’m out. The race was held the race on the a section of cross country ski loop. The cool part… It was at night and it was completely lit up! I still ran a headlight just for the sections that didn't have the best lighting. After a short pre-ride on a section of the course I knew it was going to be a very long two hours. The trail conditions weren't even close to being good. Because warm during the day, the snow was super soft. When you ride in super soft snow, it’s like a mix of mud like conditions and riding through a beach volley ball court at the same time; the ruts almost seem to swallow you whole. With so much climbing and terrible snow conditions, there was a lot of running, this made everything nearly un-ridable due to everybody walking/running up the hills. I’ve seen muddy cow pastures look better than this.
At one point I came through for a lap, looked at the timer, and saw there was still an hour left to race. I thought to myself, “This is going to be the longest hour I've endured in a while.” I think I forgot to mention, there was no set distance for this race, just timed. There was a one hour race and a two hour race, so of course I did the two hour race which I regret when I saw I was only at the half way point. Now here’s the turning point…
As the race went on, I started getting frustrated because of the conditions. At this point I figured had enough of a lead to change focus from trying to go the fastest I could, to riding as close to perfection as possible. It’s easy to just keep mashing on the pedals and keep going hard because you're in the lead and don't want to lose, but how often do you get to practice riding to perfection in a race setting? Nearly never. Resetting and challenging yourself to make a change is hard. Nobody wants to risk losing when you’re in the lead. But I promise there’s going to be a race when you're in second place and your so intent on catching the leader you’ll forget that being smooth at the end of a race can make a huge difference. Just because you pedal harder doesn't mean you're going faster. It’s all about being smooth and efficient. Yes, you still need to be aggressive, but you have to be patient and be aggressive when and where it’s most effective.
The change in focus can almost be refreshing. Sometimes lap after lap can be boring. Every race situation is different. Its hard to just change focus and mentality. This is why practicing it during a real race scenario is the best place to practice. Keep in mind this can be done from any position in a race. If you're having a bad day and want to quit, maybe next time you’ll second guess pulling off the race course and use it to your advantage to learn something or try to make a few gains somewhere. You never know, if you just keep going you might end up winning too.
Back to the race… I was able to hold on to lead and finish the race for my 5th consecutive Fat Bike win! And I have to give a shoutout to race promotor Scott Cole of the Hostle Shoppe for putting on the event. Without him nobody would have been stepping up to the challenge!