|(Lynne Senkerik photo)|
Things did not go well. Cascade Mountain is a ski hill and the cross country course includes a lot of technical descending. That’s a hole in my skill set. The climbing didn’t bother me, but I knew there would be no way I could handle some of those descents at race speed. Today’s rain was only going to make the situation worse on a course that dries slowly. I resolved not to attempt the cross country race. It’s better to admit my limitations than to risk an injury that would wipe out my cyclocross season. The Super D race? I can’t imagine ever putting that on my calendar.
My decision to skip Sunday’s race was simultaneously a relief and a source of disappointment that was taking too much of my attention later on Friday afternoon when I should have been thinking about nothing but the upcoming short track race. And it didn’t help that the organizers were once again behind schedule with the race program. Just like 2013 at Nordic Mountain, staying warmed up became impossible as the start of my race was delayed again and again. I was in kind of a bad mood when I reached the starting grid.
As soon as the race began, the dark thoughts disappeared and I was all business. I started reasonably well and was running in the Top 15 for the first 2 laps. I lost a few places on Laps 3 and 4, then found myself in a small group with Jeff Wren (Team Extreme), Mark Badger (Brazen Dropouts) and Demetrius Banks (Team 360 / La Crosse Velo).
I was outclimbing my rivals and used that ability to drop Banks early in Lap 5. I passed Wren at almost the same spot in Lap 6—the final lap—but he and Badger stayed close behind. On the last climb of the race I was still ahead and tried to stretch my advantage. Wren caught me on a loose gravel turn at the top of the hill and then passed me on the descent that followed. The last 100 meters were a straight shot. I went around Wren on the right while Badger passed on the left. It was a drag race to the finish line and I got there 0.1 seconds before Badger and 0.3 seconds ahead of Wren. It was great drama for 19th place out of 28 in the Cat 2, 45-54 age group!
Paul Roltgen (Brazen Dropouts) took the win. My Team Pedal Moraine friends Steve Kobs, Larry Hipps and Bob Zimmermann placed 3rd, 9th and 10th, respectively. My head-to-head win against Jeff Wren was the first time I have ever beaten him in a mountain bike race. In a short track race that was very similar to cyclocross, that’s a good sign. Jeff will be one of my main rivals this fall as I fight for upgrade points.