I’ve moved over to here…
The preparation at times trumps the race itself. If not careful one can knot themselves up so tight that they are conquered before the race even begins. I can easily turn up the pressure, especially when the race is run on your home course. WORS #5 Firecracker in Eau Claire is my stomping grounds. Knowing the course, knowing every root, rock, berm, and drop gives you not only an advantage but adds to the heat of battle.
At the sound of Don’s GO we were off for what would end up being by far the fastest, gnarliest, and fun WORS race yet. Long roll out on ski trail brought us to the new “whoops” section of table top, pump track jumps/bumps. I wanted to be in the top ten through the “whoops” section so that I could ride through it and not get caught in the middle. Came out of the section and dumped into the first single track riding six back.
Jumping out onto the first ski trail section I passed two riders, bridged up to the lead riders and rode on. Following the drop down on “onion” and into a ski trail section the ss speeder and I got gaped a bit so feeling good I moved in front to pull and work on closing the gap.
Every so often I could see 2nd place riding in and out of the trees. And after a sweet descent towards the end of the first lap I caught his wheel, passed and rode off. The legs were turning over faster then my mind would allow. Trees were whizzing and I was turning out of each corner…until my front wheel caught the soft part of the trail on a ridge and over the bars I went. Got up, quickly mounted, assessed my bike as I pedaled and thought nothing of it, until I went to shift up and there was nothing there. Look down and notice by rear derailleur cable busted. I finish up lap one running second and with a 28 x 11 combination. Saweeeet. Like it or not I had to run ss for laps two and three.
Continued the chase but also went into a little reserve mode knowing the climbs were going to be harder. Pounded the hills, flew the single track, and sat back and enjoyed every minute of it. That was how laps 2 & 3 played out. Rolled across the line what would be 3rd overall! Best race yet…
Started the race with a 2×10 and ended that race on a single speed. Don’t think I would have been able to last without the FitElite training and Carig Manthe. Huge props!
As for the race, I had to ask myself, “Did I climb up a rung on the ladder intellectually or physically? If so there will be other races where I can do better. Keep tuning the engine, grow some larger balls and victory may be mine someday….someday!
The Big Ring has to be one, if not, THE most popular race in the WORS series. It draws a big numbers with fast riders. It is a great mix of ski trail, punchy climbs, one big climb, and single track littered with rocks. I have come to love this race…that is until Sunday!
In previous years we had a good two, maybe three mile ski trail roll out. This year they threw in a hard left, then a right, then a left again before they funneled us down into some twisty single track. Positioning was the key and positioning was not what I got.
We hit the first single track section and I found myself stopping/starting slowing/on the gas. It was a bad combo and when we spilled out onto the ski trail I had to be some twenty or so wheels back. The chase was one. Typical.
Lap 1 was all about patience and waiting for the right times to “enter the pain cave” and gain on the riders ahead of me. I managed to latch onto a mad “cross” riders wheel. By the end of lap 1 and all throughout lap 2 we would take turns pulling. We would reel in riders, pick our way through traffic, and then drop riders on the ski trail sections. Funny thing was we would also get caught by riders in the single track sections (more on that in a bit).
Lap 3 was about hanging on. My body was punished and beaten down by the single track sections that had boulders the size of Volkswagen Beetles (seriously, no joke). I fell back a bit midway through the third lap but managed to hold my own and sprint it out to nab a 15th pace finish. It is so much fun being able to ride bikes and to try and ride them faster and faster each time, pushing the limit of just how fast your body can make the bike go.
Yea…about that single track. A few years back I thought it would be fun, fast, and way lighter to ride a rigid. I have fun riding rigid. It forces you to always ride clean lines and gives you little to no forgiveness when you do take a “wrong” line. Sunday sucked. I was a lone pin ball being bounced around and off of rocks, stumps, and trees. My ass was one big bruise Sunday night. I’m not old…but maybe it’s time to rethink this rigid thingy.
Firecracker in two weeks! Here’s to racing on a home course for a change.
I love mud. Riding in mud seems to bring out the kid in me. But racing in mud is a whole other ballgame. Sunday was about thunderstorms, rain, and more rain. All day rain was moving east across the state and so I knew what we were getting in Eau Claire was eventually going to hit Iola. But being the first race of the season I figured I had to get out and race. Besides Iola was all sand, right?
I arrived at Iola Winter Sports Area only to be greeted with a parking lot full of mud and cars stuck in mud. After some brief delays to the Citizen and Sport races, I warmed up and toed the line for the first WORS race of the 2012 season. GOOOOOO echoed through the pines and we are off. I momentarily forgot how hectic and crazy the WORS starts are and before I knew it we were climbing up the back side of the ski jump hill and descending down into a bowl full of mud and wet grass.
It didn’t take long for the mud to take its toll on the bikes. Mid way through the first lap I had a major case of chain suck and had to pull off and finagle my chain out. By then my race turned into chase mode and then into survival mode. I was never able to “settle in.” Dismount, run, slide, ride, ride and slide, dismount some more, and ride a little bit more. No one seemed to pass anyone and everyone found themselves in a “war of attrition.”
By lap three I had major chain skipping and was down to one gear. I thought for a moment to bail on the race just to save my bike, but the thought only lasted for a moment. After the final stretch of gnarly, slippery, greasy single track section, I rolled across feeling beat up from fight rather than beaten down by a race.
It was still a great day of racing because one got to hang with fellow races that you haven’t seen since last fall. But in the end I’m left wondering just exactly where I am at so far. I had glimpses of strong riding but the mud took its toll and left me wondering. Time to train some more and wait for the Cable Off Road in a week and a half.
Sunday is game on. Who’s coming in ready and who’s coming in to get ready. When the Goooooo rips throughout the pines it becomes each man for himself. Nasty. Who’s coming? Ready or get ready…
Wise man once said – “Don’t buy upgrades; ride up grades.” — Eddy Merckx
Time to crank it over and ride up the (Iola) grades…