Friday, September 9, 2016

Cyclocross Eve 2016

The 2016 Wisconsin Cycling Association cyclocross season begins tomorrow with one of its top events: Cross-Shooshko at Milwaukee’s Kosciuszko Park. Cross-Shooshko is the first of eight races in the SuperCup, our state championship series. SuperCup events bring out more racers and, generally, better racers than non-SuperCup events. Tomorrow’s fields will be stacked with everyone who has championship ambitions, plus anyone who’s tuning up for next weekend’s Trek CXC Cup, a non-series event in Waterloo that some people consider an even bigger prize.

I have no SuperCup or Trek CXC Cup ambitions, but I do look forward to tomorrow. Cross-Shooshko has been a good event for me historically. I don’t expect to beat the Cat 1 & 2 guys in the Masters 1/2/3 race; my goal will be to place well among the Cat 3s and to catch some of the guys in the 35+ age group that will start 1 minute before my 45+ wave. On Sunday at Cross Of The North—a new, non-SuperCup event in Wausau—my challenge will be a little different. I will double up for the first time in my cyclocross career. I’m registered for both the Elite Cat 3 race at 1:15 and the Masters 1/2/3 race at 2:15. Each is 45 minutes long, so I will have just 15 minutes to recover between races. Why double up? To have more fun is probably the best reason, but there are competitive advantages. More racing is more of a workout, more time spent on cyclocross-specific skills, and more experience with race tactics. There’s also the matter of USA Cycling rankings, the less-than-perfectly-calculated numbers on which the WCA bases call-ups. Competing against a (presumably) larger field of (presumably) younger racers should help my ranking and therefore my position on the Masters starting grid in the weeks to come. But there are no guarantees: if pre-registrations are any indication, then both the size and quality of the Elite Cat 3 field will be inferior to that of the Masters 1/2/3 field at Wausau.

Moving up to Cat 3 at the start of 2015 was the equivalent of moving up to Cat 1 from a competitive standpoint, and I’m not that good. This season I hope to be one of the best of the Cat 3s in a Masters field that is rich with talent. And, of course, I hope to compete in the state championship race on December 3. I still have never made it that deep into the cold part of the season.

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