Lucas Borkowski does not know what asphalt is. He likes the crunch of gravel, the squish of mud, and the scrapes and bruises that go along with mountain biking.
He’s always up for a challenge, so he decided he wanted to compete in his first mountain bike event in 2015. He chose the Masons Midsummer Meltdown at Wyandotte County Lake Park.
This is his story …
Early this spring, I scribbled down Mason’s Midsummer Meltdown at Wyandotte County Lake on my calendar for June 14. I never competed in a mountain bike race before, but I have always enjoyed riding singletrack and was looking forward to the event. Unfortunately, the weather this spring has kept the trails muddy and closed. As race day neared, I recall only being able to spend two hours at the beginning of May on singletrack, and, on the morning of race day, I was craving singletrack.
I began my warm-up by riding some of the course to check out the conditions. I was excited to find the trail in relatively good shape. The trail was tacky with a few muddier sections. I also noted the rocks on the trail were relatively slick and could provide some interesting challenges.
As I lined up at the starting line of the Meltdown and waited for my wave to leave, I thought about the disappointing DNF I had at the Dirty Kanza 200 a few weeks ago. The DNF was due to a mechanical early in the race, and it still stung. I wanted to have a good race to offset the bad, but I also wanted more. I wanted to win. I knew chasing the win was going to make things interesting. I wasn’t just racing the other competitors, but I was also racing the elements of the trail. I rode enough singletrack to know it takes complete focus. After all, it’s a narrow path filled with obstacles, such as logs and rocks over ever-changing terrain. I knew if I started pushing myself that my elevated heart rate and fatigue would start to deteriorate the finess required to navigate some of the obstacles.
Finally! The Meltdown was under way and the start of the race gave us a good section of gravel road to stretch out before entering the singletrack. As I turned into the singletrack, I was right where I wanted to be, leading my wave. After a few quick switchbacks in the dirt, I was already working through a few waves of riders that had started ahead of my wave.
It wasn’t long, though, and I found myself alone in the WyCo jungle. The forest seemed to be getting thicker and quieter. My mind started to wander. It was getting kind of scary in there. It is the WyCo jungle after all, who knows what’s out there! Sasquatch? monGO? Flying monkeys? Oh, never mind, it’s just a squirrel. But the sound of a freehub spinning and a rider grabbing a few gears brought me back on task. I had to keep pushing. There wasn’t time to let up. I kept riding as hard as I could, trying to make the best of the awesome singletrack by leaning hard in some quick turns and jumping off the top of a few bumps.
As the race progressed, the trail took us out of the forest into an uphill grassy section. The section was soft and seemed to suck your wheel. As I entered back into the singletrack, I could feel the fatigue beginning to set in and, as I began a downhill section, I clipped a tree with my right handlebar. I should have viewed it as a clue that I was starting to outride myself and back off a bit, but I didn’t and kept pushing. The trail got a little more technical with some slick rocks littering the trail. It again took a little more energy and focus to navigate the rocky sections before beginning another short downhill.
At the bottom of the downhill, I viewed a cool looking obstacle. Basically, the trail went between two boulders about a bike width apart, with some small rocks in between. I didn’t think it looked like too difficult of an obstacle, or maybe it was just the lack of oxygen, but I thought there was no reason why I couldn’t ride it. I soon found myself playing a game of Twister with my bike between the two rocks. Dang! I’ve got to get going! I got up as quickly as I could and began pedaling. I told myself to concentrate and enjoyed the last remaining parts of the trail before riding into the finish. Heck! I rolled into the finish area not even realizing I was done. I was just enjoying the awesome the trail too much!
Being my first mountain bike race, I feel I had a good race and learned a lot. I accomplished my goals, but I also made mistakes and found weaknesses to improve upon. My official recorded time was 40:11. Good enough for the fastest men’s category 3 age 30-39 time and also good enough for the fastest men’s category 3 overall time. I’m excited about the win, but, more importantly, I’m ecstatic about the intangible. I’m glad I got to spend my Sunday morning riding, racing and having fun with new and old like-minded friends!
Chalk that up as another fun win for Big D Cycling and for Keen Wealth Advisors! On a side note, Cody Jones suffered an injury prior to this race, so he was unable to start. The description of his injury can be found by clicking here. Let’s wish Cody a speedy recovery.