Friday, July 22, 2016

Saturday In The Park

Slow-motion riders fly the colors of the day.

Yesterday the organizers of the new cyclocross race in Wausau posted their race schedule: Masters 4/5 at 9 a.m., Junior Boys at 9:45, and so on. In a typical season, every race in the Wisconsin Cycling Association series follows the same daily schedule. The WCA has been tight-lipped about this year’s order, but now it looks like the cat’s out of the bag.

Cross Of The North is scheduled for September 11, a Sunday. My Sundays are completely free, so going to Wausau for 45 minutes of bike racing is “reasonable” even though it’s a 160-mile drive to the race venue. Making the trip even more reasonable is the start time of my Masters 1/2/3 race: 2:15 p.m. If I had to get up before the sunrise and drive that far for a 9 a.m. start, then I probably wouldn’t bother.

Last year my races began at 11:15 a.m. and getting to them on time was never a problem, but this year the race venues are spread over a larger area. Again, on Sundays there is plenty of time to get where I need to go. Saturdays are the potentially difficult days, thanks to a third-shift work schedule that keeps me in the office until 7 a.m. Most of the Saturday races on this year’s calendar are nearby, but I would have been hard-pressed to cover the 87 miles from the office to Manitowoc on October 1 or even the 77 miles from the office to Fitchburg on October 15 if I had been stuck with the 9 a.m. timeslot. Getting to the venue is only the beginning; then comes registration (even if you’re pre-registered), changing clothes, warming up and pre-riding the course. That can be a lot to pack into 2 hours.

Starting at 2:15 has benefits for me that go beyond travel considerations. I will welcome the warmer temperatures of mid-afternoon. After upgrading from Cat 4 to Cat 3 before the start of the 2015 season, I was able to move to a later race time and there’s no doubt that the extra warmth helped me. Moving from 11:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. should make things better still. On an autumn day in Wisconsin, 2:15 might be more than 10° warmer than 11:15. And then there’s sleep, which has become something that I will take whenever I can. On a day like October 8, I should be able to get some sleep between the end of my work shift and the start of the race. PumpkinCross is just 15 miles from my house, so if I’m in bed by 8 a.m., then I can sleep until about noon before I have to get ready! The 5 Saturday races in Milwaukee may give me similar opportunities.

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