Saturday, July 16, 2016

2016 Stump Farm WEMS Race

I didn’t know what kind of race I was going to have today in Suamico. I worked overnight, rushed home and devoured a big breakfast, went to bed for a little less than 2 hours, then drove the 117 miles to the Brown County Reforestation Camp. My race was scheduled to start at 2 p.m. with a wave of 3-lap racers entering the course on which the 6-lap and 10-lap races were already in progress. I didn’t get to preview the course and my warmup consisted mostly of medium-fast laps around the parking lot. It wasn’t what you would call ideal preparation.

But the trails at the camp are fast and flowy with few technical challenges. I especially like the wide-open ski trails that serve as transitions between sections of singletrack. I have raced there often and well, winning my age group in WORS races in 2012 and 2015. A little pre-ride would have been nice today, but it wasn’t strictly necessary. I was relaxed and (fairly) confident.

Then the race started. It was a shock to the system. I had to tell myself—out loud, if I remember correctly—to trust in my fitness. If I could get past the first few breathless miles, then I would settle into the race and all would be well. And so it proved: with a time of 2:05:59, I finished in 16th place out of 37. That’s a good result for a 51-year-old Cat 2 mountain biker in a race won by 32-year old Cat 1 Dan Teaters (Team Wheel & Sprocket) in 1:44:31.

Last year I faded badly toward the end of the race. This year my lap times were very consistent: 41:34, 41:47 and 42:38. It’s worth noting that this year’s race was shorter, but I feel good about the way I sustained my effort both physically and psychologically. There’s no daydreaming in a mountain bike race; it’s a fully-immersive experience. But I’m not completely wiped out, so there’s a long road ride on the schedule for tomorrow. I allowed myself a little extra rest this week in anticipation of the WEMS race. In the week to come I will return to high-mileage training in anticipation of Race The Lake on August 14.

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