Immediately after my first mountain bike race of 2013 I told my teammates that today in Wausau was humbling, but not humiliating. Hours later, that description is still holding up. I was 14th of 18 in my age group and 119th of 180 overall. Chris Harold was today’s winner in Sport (Cat 2) for men 45-49 with a time of 1:15:06.6. (Harold also was the age group winner of my first-ever WORS race back in 2011.) Today I finished in 1:26.07.7.
Overall, the best time was 1:11:22.3 by Jonathan Kloppenburg in the 30-34 age group. That means I was almost 15 minutes behind the fastest guy, or about 1 minute per mile. I have a lot of work to do before I can think about overall victory. Even an age group victory seems too ambitious at the moment, but I don’t think I’m that far away from podium contention. Jeff Wren, Jeff Hatton and Troy Sable—all riders with whom I have been very competitive in cyclocross—finished together today in 6th, 7th and 8th places, respectively. Jeff Wren was just 4.5 seconds away from the last podium spot.
I hadn’t ridden singletrack since April 30 and I didn’t get to pre-ride the course in Wausau, but fortunately I remembered most of it from last year when I nearly won the Citizens (Cat 3) race. I think I was probably as good in the singletrack this year—the Wausau course isn’t especially technical—but against stronger competition, that just wasn’t good enough. I was good enough at the start, on the open ski trails and on the climbs. I did beat more than a third of the field, after all. While that’s a far cry from the high finishes I enjoyed in 2012, it is evidence that I belong in Sport. But now I have to raise my game to the new standard.