|Bill Nigh (center) sprints away at the start while I screw with my Garmin. Probably a lesson in there somewhere ...|
Super busy weekend: a mountain bike race, two cyclocross races, a trip down memory lane, and something like 700 miles of driving to connect it all …
2017 WEMS Quicksilver Classic
I was so well-prepared for the inaugural Quicksilver Classic mountain bike race—it’s a shame that the results don’t reflect the effort I made. Not only did I preview the trails at Kenosha County’s Silver Lake Park back on September 3, but also I arrived early on Saturday to revisit a couple of sections that I thought might give me trouble. My morning pre-ride went well and I hit the start line with a lot of confidence. The start itself was a bit rough, but I got into the first section of singletrack in decent shape and began my pursuit of Stuart Shelton (Team Extreme), who beat me in WORS races all spring and summer on his way to the Sport 50-54 title. If I could hang with him, then I would be OK. At the end of Lap 1, I was right on his rear wheel. I spent most of Lap 2 in front of him—I even imagined I was pulling away for a while—but he overtook me late in the lap and put 12 seconds into me before I hit the line. By the end of Lap 3 he was more than a minute ahead, running in 8th position while I followed in 9th. And then my rear derailleur failed at the start of Lap 4, forcing me to retire from the race. Shelton went on to a 7th place finish. I should have had a Top 10 at least, but my 3 completed laps were good enough for 13th place in the 28-man field. Michael Humpál, a 35-year-old Cat 1, took the win ahead of my teammate and fellow West Bender, Bill Nigh.
2017 Patriot CX
Immediately after the WEMS race—sooner than expected, in fact—I drove to Rantoul IL where on Sunday I raced twice at Patriot CX, the season opener in the Heart of Illinois (HICX) series. For me, it was a better and more affordable option than Jingle Cross, the UCI event in Iowa City IA that has become so popular with Wisconsin cyclocross racers. I knew the turnout in Rantoul would be small but the competition was legit and my primary goal was to add to my fitness, not to my palmarès. After a couple of practice laps on a rough course that included lots of off-camber sections and 100 meters of deep pea gravel, I lined up for the Cat 3 race. By the midpoint of Lap 1, I was last in the 8-man field. But I kept racing and as the final lap began I was quickly reeling in my closest rival. When I accelerated hard out of the last turn, he couldn’t go with me. I’ll take 7th place over 8th place anytime, and I got a kick out of discovering that I was 8 years older than the next oldest guy in the race.
It was sunny and 84° as my Masters 40+ race began an hour later. I was not the oldest guy in that race. Nor was I the fastest: I placed 9th out of 15 overall in a field that included riders from Cat 2, Cat 3, Cat 4, and Cat 5. I had enough energy to ride at a steady pace, but I didn’t have anything special to give. My average speed dropped half a mile per hour from my Cat 3 race pace. Overall, I got what I wanted out of Patriot CX: hard training. Sunday’s effort should pay dividends in Wisconsin Cycling Association races later this fall.
Reminiscing … And Looking Ahead
Rantoul is just an hour by car from Charleston IL, where I lived from mid-1976 until early 1981. My travels rarely take me to that part of the world, so I took advantage of the chance to see some familiar places from my past. I probably won’t need to scratch that itch again for a long time.
The same goes for Patriot CX: for the last few years I was curious about it, and now I know. I am glad to have done it.
The logistics of this unusual weekend make the next WCA weekend look simple by comparison: Flyover Silver Creek CX in Manitowoc on September 30, then Cross Of The North in Wausau on October 1. Manitowoc is 68 miles from my house and Wausau is 159. I can sleep in my own bed after Manitowoc, and my race in Wausau doesn’t start until 3:30 p.m. If the weather is fair, then count me in for both.