I expected more than I could deliver today at Sheboygan in the first race of the 2012 WCA cyclocross season. The race wasn’t a total disaster—I finished in 7th place out of 16 in the Cat 4 Masters 45+ age group—but I really had hoped to be on the podium.
I got off to a good start and was holding on in the Top 5 for the first half of Lap 1. But then I just couldn’t sustain the pace of the leaders and once I lost contact I was easy prey for a couple of guys who had been chasing me. Single-speeder John Grosz passed me to slip into 6th place and then John Norman dropped me into 8th place early in Lap 3.
Norman’s pass broke me out of a funk. I knew the leaders were now long gone and my motivation was waning. But I have a good head-to-head record against Norman in both cyclocross and mountain bike racing, so I resolved not to let him get away. I stayed on his wheel for a few minutes, then reclaimed 7th place by mid-lap and extended my advantage to the finish.
PJ Braun was today’s winner, edging 2011 winner Timm Jacobson. Today’s course was very different from last year’s. The steep hill known as “The Equalizer” was removed from this year’s course, as was the corkscrew. Overall, today’s course was less technically demanding. A long section of sandy beach was the toughest challenge—I certainly didn’t get close to riding its entire length—but there were no really tight corners or off-camber turns. Unfortunately, much of the course still consisted of bumpy straightaways and high grass that just sucked the energy out of every pedal stroke.
The other West Bend guys agreed with me after the race that our performances demand a redoubling of our efforts when we meet again for practice on Tuesday. Despite a fast start, Jeff Wren placed 12th today. Troy Sable, suffering from a rear derailleur problem, was 16th.