|Brad Jorsch, me, Jim Steig and Kevin Apodaca on the podium at Wausau.|
And I had one bad shift that probably cost me 1st Place.
Going into today’s race I was second on series points in Men’s Cat 3 (Citizens) 40-49, so I got a call-up for a preferred spot on the starting line. I took the far left, clipped in quickly as the race began and easily negotiated the first left-hand turn. But series leader Jim Steig also started strongly, as did Kevin Apodaca on his fat bike. Loren Beyer was in the mix early in the race before crashing in the first section of singletrack. That left only Steig and Apodaca ahead of me, and they got a little gap as we moved through the field of riders from another age group that had started earlier. By the end of the first lap I had lost sight of my rivals, but by hammering the open sections I soon reeled them in. I passed Steig on the last big hill climb and I was about to pass Apodaca, but suddenly I didn’t need to: Apodaca made a wrong turn at the top of the hill. By the time he got back on course, I was already on the fast descent with Steig in pursuit. Steig was content to follow me through the remaining singletrack—he even told me so—but I figured he would contest the long sprint for the finish line. As we emerged from the singletrack I attempted to shift into my big chainring and nearly shifted the chain off the bike. In the few moments it took me to make a correction, Steig flew past me and I simply ran out of racecourse before I could catch him. His margin of victory was just 1.9 seconds; I was that close. Apodaca finished in third place, 33.8 seconds behind Steig.
It was a strong field of 30 riders in the 40-49 age group. Out of 152 riders overall, Steig was 3rd, I was 4th, Apodaca was 6th and Brad Jorsch was 9th. This is my second Top 10 overall finish. With just one more, I will get a mandatory upgrade to Cat 2 (Sport) for 2013.
After today’s result, Steig and I are still 1-2 on series points in our age group. It’s shaping up as a good rivalry. Steig was 3rd at Iola as I took 4th. He was 2nd at Rhinelander as I took 3rd. But one of my other rivals had a rough weekend: John Norman crashed hard during a practice lap on Saturday evening and separated his shoulder. He will be out of action for a little while. There were a lot of crashes with injuries in practice and in competition. Jeff Wren hit his head after sliding out on some gravel during his race today. He blacked out for a few seconds, then remained on the ground for a couple of minutes to compose himself before resuming. He made it to the finish line but was still a little shaky as we broke camp, so I did all the driving back to West Bend! In April I joked that Jeff is our Bob Roll, but maybe he’s really our Chris Horner.