Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Winning Weekend ... Weather-Wise

A full weekend of cyclocross racing in Wisconsin with temperatures in the high 60s and sunny skies … in November? Yes, please! Historically, the average high temperature in West Bend for Nov. 5-6 is just 49°, but on Saturday we reached 64° and today we hit 68° to break the previous all-time high of 66°, set in 1924. I raced in Milwaukee County and Dane County, respectively, where the weather was just as nice. What a treat to leave the winter clothes at home!

Estabrook Park

The course at Estabrook Park in Milwaukee (and Shorewood and Whitefish Bay, believe it or not) is never exactly the same from one season to the next, and Saturday’s edition of the race featured a section of Milwaukee River bottomland that isn’t normally in play. But the inclusion of that section also allowed the organizers to use a challenging stone staircase that might be the toughest run-up in Wisconsin Cycling Association history. And the stairs were just about the only section of the course that you could be sure was firm. Even flat sections open to the abundant sunshine failed to dry out completely. The race was positively energy-sapping from start to finish, but I enjoyed it tremendously and sustained a very steady effort. I was 19th of 27 overall in the Masters 45+ Cat 1/2/3 race, 15th of the 22 Cat 3s. John Lirette (Ben’s Cycle/Milwaukee Bicycle Co.) took the win. I felt like a winner after the race when I retired to the Estabrook Beer Garden for a complimentary brew and bratwurst.


Today I most emphatically did not feel like a winner. In fact I was dead last: 13th of 13 in the Masters 45+ Cat 1/2/3 race, 8th of the 8 Cat 3s. I overtook the back of the 35+ field that had started 1 minute ahead of my age group, so I wasn’t literally the slowest man in the race, but that was my only consolation. Once again, the guys to whom I lost were simply faster. The guys at my level have been very hit-or-miss with their participation this season, so it was only a matter of time before I was DFL in a small field. John Lirette won the 45+ age group again today. He does well under all conditions. I do well, relatively speaking, on courses like CamRock, and I didn’t ride badly today. If I could race against the Dave Hanrahan of Nov. 8, 2014, when I placed 3rd at CamRock, I’m sure I would kick his ass. But he was a Cat 4 in a field of Cat 4s. Now I’m overmatched. Cyclocross is still fun, but from a competitive standpoint I don’t matter very much. It’s becoming what it probably should have been from the start: a way to stay fit at the end of the year, but not an end unto itself.

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