|Today's race at Sun Prairie featured this steep hill and several other technical challenges.|
What can I tell you about Saturday’s race at Noyes Park in Milwaukee? I was awful. My legs felt heavy during my warmup and just never came around. I got an average start but dropped out of the Top 10 by the middle of Lap 1. I could tell that fellow West Bend racers Troy Sable and Jeff Wren were going well, but I was losing ground. And it wasn’t just the usual suspects ahead of me; I was getting passed by guys I typically—if not always—beat. I thought all of the psychological damage was done after Lap 2 but early in Lap 3 I got caught by the Top 3 riders in the Cat 4 Masters 55+ group, guys that had started 30 seconds behind me. That was humbling. (Before the end of the race I overtook a couple of guys from the Masters 35+ wave, a small consolation.) On Lap 4 I fell to 13th place in my group when Barry Zellmer went around me. I’ve never lost to Barry, so I found a little pride and stuck to his back tire until we hit a long-ish grass hill. I knew he would suffer there and when I jumped out of the saddle and sprinted to the summit I put Barry behind me for good. That tiny victory allowed me to finish 12th out of 17 in Cat 4 Masters 45+, my worst finish this year. Jon Antonneau took the win, followed by Jed Schleisner, then Sable, then Wren. It was a disappointing race for me and I didn’t deserve to gain in the series standings on two of the three guys ahead of me, but Dave Dineen didn’t line up on Saturday and Timm Jacobson—who surely was heading for either 1st or 2nd place—had tire trouble and couldn’t finish the race.
Sun Prairie Cup
Sheehan Park in Sun Prairie was a spectacular venue for today’s race and everyone seemed in good spirits as the sun shone brightly after a week of clouds and rain. The course featured a short, sharp hill that I wouldn’t even try to ride up, plus lots and lots of off-camber stuff. I knew during my course recon and later during my warmup that the legs were more lively than they had been on Saturday. Starting from the front row, for much of Lap 1 it looked like I was going to get away with the leaders. But when John Grosz passed me for 5th place I couldn’t hold his wheel. I felt OK but I couldn’t reach any deeper. Jeff Wren and I traded places on a couple of occasions before he, too, opened a gap I couldn’t close on Lap 2. John Lichtenberg went around next, then Troy Sable early in Lap 3. I stayed with Troy for several minutes, surprised that I couldn’t overtake him on a long straightaway or on the gentle but sustained climb that followed. Jeff Hatton passed me late in the lap to seal my fate: 10th place out of 19. Timm Jacobson took the win ahead of Jeff Abitz and Dave Dineen. Jed Schleisner finished in 4th, so I lost ground in the series standings today. But let’s get real: I’m not racing for the series title. I haven’t finished higher than 6th this year; my high position in the points standings is the product of having earned at least a few points in all 7 of the races in which I have competed.
Being 10th out of 19 isn’t very impressive but for me the placing wasn’t as important as the effort I made. On Saturday I was just another obstacle for people to get around; today I was racing from start to finish. Though only 10th I finished within a few seconds of Wren (7th), Sable (8th) and Hatton (9th). And on a challenging course I displayed good technical skills. The fitness just wasn’t there this weekend. More on that momentarily …
Leaving the race venue, Jeff Wren and I headed south to the Trek store near East Towne Mall in Madison. It was an opportunity for us to stare longingly at bikes that we will never be able to afford, but more importantly to dispose of the $20 coupons we got way back on June 17 at the Battle of CamRock WORS race. Nice gift! Jeff turned his into a CO2 inflator, replacing one that he lost while racing earlier this year, and I turned mine into three pairs of white Pearl Izumi socks that won’t see any action until the first dry, warm day next spring.
So, Now What?
Saturday’s dead legs were almost surely the symptom of a poor week of training. After racing last Sunday in the WORS season finale, I took a rest day on Monday, then rode just 16 rain-shortened miles on Tuesday before bad weather wiped out my Wednesday and Thursday. I did a 19-mile ride in the drizzle on Friday just because I had to do something and I couldn’t bear the thought of getting on the indoor trainer. That’s a bad week, and the one before it wasn’t really any better. I have made less-than-ideal weather my excuse for not training properly all month.
That ends now. I’m on vacation from my job this week, but I’m not heading out of town. If the weather forecast is accurate, then I should have many opportunities to ride. I can rediscover a good mix of endurance and intensity … maybe not in time to make a difference at the next race (Saturday at Washington Park in Milwaukee), but hopefully in time to make a difference sometime during the second half of the season.