|Team Pedal Moraine's Bill Nigh accepts his medal for a strong 3rd place finish in the 30-mile category.|
Last year in the WEMS race at Suamico, I placed 24th out of 40 in the men’s 30-mile category. Today in my first race of 2015, I placed 18th out of 33. Just like last year, I chased but failed to catch Jeff Wren (Team Extreme). It’s nothing short of incredible how many times we have finished consecutively in mountain bike racing and in cyclocross. Sometimes he gets the better of me; sometimes I get the better of him.
The Brown County Reforestation Camp has many miles of singletrack and cross-country ski trails that can be arranged in countless ways. Today’s configuration emphasized the singletrack, left out a couple of the tougher hills, and was a big hit with the racers. I don’t think I have ever done the same race twice on those trails, and that’s OK … though it would be nice to compare lap times from year to year.
My lap times this year were 51:39, 52:53 and 58:11. I was delighted to complete the final lap in less than 1 hour, because I was running on empty and starting to cramp. My total time was 2:42:43. Wren finished in 2:38:50. Johnny Hudson, a Cat 1 from Illinois, won the 30-mile category in 2:08:17. Ryan Rollins, a Cat 1 from nearby De Pere, took 2nd place in 2:13:25. Team Pedal Moraine’s Bill Nigh, also a Cat 1, was a close 3rd in 2:13:59 and was a model of consistency, completing laps of 44:38, 44:48 and 44:33. I’m left to wonder about my precipitous drop in performance on Lap 3. I slept well on Friday night and I felt like my nutrition and hydration strategy was sound. But almost exactly 2 hours into the race, I was swamped by fatigue. It wasn’t a true bonk—I was able to push on—but I was keenly aware that I was losing time.
The open racing format of WEMS ignores USA Cycling categories, grouping together racers of all ages and abilities. I didn’t expect a big result. The place I got was the one I deserved. It was a good workout, good fun (even the suffering), and a good way to get back into racing after a 6-month break. My 2014 cyclocross season was far from my mind this afternoon as the temperature reached 79 degrees. The next race on my 2015 calendar is, of course, subject to my availability as I continue to search for a new job.