|I could feel the warmth in the woods today, but not the high winds!|
Today was the warmest day so far this year. In West Bend we hit 81 degrees, making this our first 80-degree day since September 28, 2014. And yesterday I was riding with knee warmers! Of course, at this time of year an 80-degree day comes with a downside: very high winds from the south. With sustained winds in excess of 20 mph and gusts above 30, I didn’t want to be on the open road.
Mountain biking is a great alternative when the winds are high, so today I joined a couple of Team Pedal Moraine friends at Greenbush, site of the Northern Kettles Endurance Challenge. I will be there on Saturday to help the team but I won’t be racing. My only attempt at racing the Greenbush trails was my very first mountain bike race, way back on May 29, 2011. Riding a borrowed bike that was too small for me, I completed one lap in 75 minutes and called it a day. I had done two practice sessions at Greenbush in advance of the race: a full lap in 80 minutes on May 24, and Loops 1 & 2 on May 27 before I ran out of daylight.
I considered my race performance to be so poor that I didn’t return to Greenbush until April 21, 2012. On that occasion I completed one full lap but I don’t know what my time was … not fast, I assure you. And, believe it or not, that brings us to today. I completed one lap today and my time of 59 minutes, 52 seconds is easily the fastest of the four laps I have completed all-time.
Race laps at Greenbush are slightly longer than practice laps, but in a race I would push myself a little harder than I did today. So, today’s time is a pretty good estimate of how I might perform in competition. On Saturday the fastest guys will turn 45-minute laps routinely. That’s far beyond my ability, and it’s important to remember that there are no age groups or USA Cycling categories in WEMS races. Limping along at about 1 hour per lap, I might sneak into the Top 20. That prospect isn’t exciting enough to pull me into the race.
Today I rode Greenbush better than ever before, but I didn’t ride it cleanly. I stalled on a steep, rocky climb and I balked at a technical descent. I’m just not comfortable there. With more experience, maybe I could be. But New Fane is much closer, much more fun, and certain to remain my first choice when I want to go mountain biking.