Monday, May 29, 2017
2017 WEMS Stump Farm 100
My race on Saturday at the Brown County Reforestation Camp in Suamico could have been a disaster. Bad weather limited me to just 2 training rides between May 18 and May 26. I hadn’t been on the mountain bike since May 13. I worked 12-hour nighttime shifts on Thursday and Friday, and when my race began at 12 o’clock I had been awake for almost 24 hours. I should have been an embarrassing combination of under-trained and exhausted.
I wasn’t. I had abundant energy and a really fun race. I took 15th place in the 33-man short distance category. My time of 2:24:02 was way off the winning pace of 1:59:23 set by Dan Teaters (Team Wheel & Sprocket), but I never expected to match him. Teaters is a 33-year old Cat 1 who was racing on his home course, motivated to win Stump Farm for the second year in a row. His closest competition finished more than 4 minutes behind.
My closest competition was Shaun Putz (unattached), with whom I began working early in Lap 1. Putz was smooth through the singletrack and I was happy to follow his lines. And he was a good communicator, calling out hazards like slower riders from the mid- and long-distance categories … and like the big garter snake I would have crushed if not for his warning. We completed Lap 1 just 3 seconds apart and comfortably ahead of any chasers. By the end of Lap 2, however, Putz had a 58-second lead on me. For much of Lap 3, I couldn’t see him. But I knew I was faster on the cross country ski trails and on the climbs, so I pushed especially hard in those areas and got back to Putz’s wheel with 3 miles to go. Again I was content to follow, sure that I could out-kick my rival on the long section of ski trail at the end of the lap. With less than a mile to go, my plans almost fell apart: I crashed when my front tire washed out in a sandy corner. I wasn’t on the ground for long, but any delay was a bad delay that late in the race. When I emerged from the singletrack Putz had a 200-meter lead. I went into the big ring, reeled him in, and finished 2 seconds ahead. I was grateful to have a reason to keep pushing throughout a race that easily could have turned into little more than a solo ride.
Then I saw the results and realized I finished only 19 seconds behind my top rival, Jeff Wren (Team Extreme). I had lost sight of him early in Lap 1, which he completed in 45:45 and I finished in 47:03. I was 34 seconds quicker on Lap 2 and 25 seconds quicker on Lap 3, but it wasn’t enough.
With two category wins, Saturday was a great day for Team Pedal Moraine. Matt Grady won the long distance singlespeed race—that’s 101 miles of mountain bike racing—in 8:42:08, beating his closest rival by just 6 seconds! Nate Gruenke easily won the mid-distance fatbike category.
The next race in the Wisconsin Endurance Mountain Bike Series is the Romp In The Swamp Epic on June 10. Because of the distance between my office in Brookfield and the race venue in Wausau, I haven’t committed to that date. But Saturday’s race showed that I can race well even after an overnight work shift and a long drive. I’m hoping for a high finish in the series standings, so any points are good points.
Posted by Dave Hanrahan at 4:00 PM