Saturday, October 8, 2016

2016 Grafton PumpkinCross

From my home in West Bend, the closest race venue of the WCA cyclocross series is Lime Kiln Park in Grafton. And it’s always a great course, so I anticipate PumpkinCross much more eagerly than most races. But PumpkinCross hasn’t been good to me. I crashed in 2011 and had to settle for 7th place when I might have had a Top 5. In 2012, I was very fit from a successful WORS mountain bike racing season, but heavy rains prompted the Village of Grafton to cancel PumpkinCross to protect the park grounds. In 2013, I attended PumpkinCross as a fan but not as a racer; I was recovering from a broken collarbone. In 2014, I finished in 6th place despite a bad starting position. I went into the race as the series points leader for Cat 4 Masters 45+, but I didn’t get a call-up. I also dropped my chain that year and had to retake 2 positions late in the race. In 2015, I flatted and had to run half a lap to the pits for a new wheel. The best result I could get in the Masters 45+ Cat 1/2/3/4 field was 23rd out of 30 overall, 8th out of 9 Cat 3s. That experience led me to abandon a clinchers-with-tubes setup in favor of the tubeless wheels and tires that I now use.

Today the bike worked perfectly and the weather was perfect and the course was perfect and I was in perfect health … if not necessarily in perfect fitness. My result is nothing to shout from the rooftops, but at least it’s honest: 25th out of 30 overall in the Masters 45+ Cat 1/2/3 field, 15th out of 19 Cat 3s. I handled the technical stuff really well, but I lost at least 1 spot every time up the big hill. Coming into today, I had just 5 hours on the bike this week. Those weren’t bad rides, but I knew my top-end fitness was slipping. For most of today’s race, I could see Troy Sable (unattached) just 20 seconds ahead and Dave Dineen (KS Energy Services / MOSH / Team Wisconsin) just 10 seconds ahead, but I couldn’t close the gaps.

As a SuperCup race, the PumpkinCross fields were stacked. There’s no shame in losing to the guys who beat me. Michael Meteyer (Trek Midwest Team), a Cat 2, won the Masters 45+ Cat 1/2/3 race. In the Masters 55+ Cat 4/5 race, Steve Cummins (Team Pedal Moraine) took the win.

Next up for me is Velocross at Humboldt Park in Milwaukee on Saturday, Oct. 15. If nothing else, today’s race was good for knocking off some rust from a body that hasn’t been pushed hard enough in the last couple of weeks. By this time next week I hope to rediscover some of the fitness I have lost. A good race in Milwaukee may encourage me to race next Sunday at Badger Prairie in Verona. Right now I’m not committed to Sunday’s race, as I am not chasing series points.

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