Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Mark Badger Thing

"It's a tug of war. We expected more, but with one thing and another, we were trying to outdo each other … "

The good news today is that I have surpassed 5,000 miles, year-to-date. I came into 2016 with no pre-defined mileage goal, but as 5,000 began to seem likely I got very interested in reaching it. In my 13 seasons as a cyclist, this is my 5th time with 5,000 miles or more. I first did it in 2011 and I would have done it every year since if not for time lost to a broken collarbone late in 2013. I’m not done riding this year and there’s a reasonable chance I will surpass 5,236 miles, making this my 2nd highest mileage total ever, but I won’t get close to the personal record 6,236 miles I rode in 2015.

The bad news today is that I gave a terrible performance at the Sun Prairie Cup. I was 22nd of 23 overall in the Masters 45+ Cat 1/2/3 race, 14th out of the 15 Cat 3s. Really, I was dead last: the guy I “beat” took a DNF. Arlen Spicer (BELGIANWERKX) won my race. Team Pedal Moraine’s Steve Cummins took the win in Masters 55+ Cat 4. Clearly, they handled the TONS of descending, off-camber turns better than I did on a Sheehan Park course that was shorter but more challenging than before. I was so slow that I couldn’t catch the guy in front of me even when he suffered a significant crash on the final lap.

That guy was Mark Badger (Brazen Dropouts), against whom I have enjoyed a remarkable rivalry. Today was the 8th time that Mark and I have finished consecutively. I hold a 5-3 edge in those meetings, which include both cyclocross and mountain bike races. Mark is 2-1 against me this year, beating me at the Reforestation Ramble and again today. I held him off yesterday at Celtic Cross in Fitchburg, just as I did last season. His victory over me today was a repeat of the 2014 Sun Prairie Cup.

Saturday’s Celtic Cross was a much better race for me on a McGaw Park course with few technical challenges. I was 15th of 20 overall in the Masters 45+ Cat 1/2/3 race, 11th out of the 15 Cat 3s. I crashed at the midpoint of the race, but recovered quickly enough to keep Badger behind me. How’s that for evenly matched? On back-to-back days, each of us crashed and still prevailed against the other! Fitchburg’s own Jay Maas won Masters 45+ Cat 1/2/3 on Saturday.

There are two races scheduled for next weekend. I’m more interested in Sunday’s race at Oshkosh than I am in Saturday’s race at Washington Park in Milwaukee, so I might put all of my energy into it. But weather could be the big factor as I make my plans: there’s rain in the forecast. Wet and/or muddy, and I’m out. I’m happy with my 5,000 miles, I’m obviously not contending for high finishes in my cyclocross races, and I’m thinking about allowing myself an off-season.

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