Another successful WORS weekend! I placed 3rd out of 16 in my age group and 6th out of 88 overall in the Citizens (Cat 3) race at Rhinelander. Dirk Bjornstad won my age group with a time of 39:15.2, followed by Jim Steig at 40:04.2 and me at 41:01.2. Nolan Steig won the overall with a time of 38:58.3. To get that close to overall victory, a lot of things had to go right for me. I didn’t ride a flawless race, but it was very near to the absolute best of my ability.
Because of my 4th place finish at Iola two weeks ago, I got a call-up today and started the race exactly where I wanted to be: front row, far left. Two practice laps on Saturday proved to me that staying to the left was the best bet, and that I should lock out the suspension fork until I reached the singletrack. As expected, the start was very fast. Bjornstad and Steig quickly established themselves at the front. I was among the leaders too, but as we hit the biggest hill on the course I had to get rid of a couple of guys who had started impressively but then flamed out. I wasn’t delayed for long, but as Bjornstad and Steig hit the singletrack they had put 10-15 seconds into me and I never got back to their wheels. I was OK in the singletrack, but not great. An additional practice lap early this morning had given me some new confidence for that part of the race, but really I was just trying to limit my losses. The leaders in my age group were now passing a lot of slower riders from the earlier waves. When the course opened up again to reveal the second significant climb, I hit the gas hard and dropped several more of these riders before diving back into the singletrack. Lap 1 ended with some flat doubletrack that brought us back to the gravel road. Here I was untouchable, easily outdistancing all rivals except for Brad Jorsch. On Lap 2, with only about ¼-mile to go before the big hill, Jorsch became the only person to pass me today. But when we hit the base of the hill I recaptured my position and as we entered the singletrack I tried to put more riders from the earlier waves between us. Jorsch hung tough, but I kept him behind me with another strong showing on the smaller hill at mid-lap. When we hit the doubletrack, I again locked out my fork and shifted into the big chainring. It was hammer time to the finish and I kept my 3rd Place by 1.9 seconds.
Jim Steig now leads the Citizens 40-49 category. I’m next, followed by Jorsch. (We were 3-4-5 at Iola and 2-3-4 today!) Up next: the Big Ring Classic at Wausau on June 3.