|Climbing well despite too much belly fat! (Brittany Nigh photo)|
Last Saturday was peculiar. After working overnight, I crawled into a quiet corner of my office building and slept for a while. It didn’t make sense to drive back to West Bend from Brookfield, then hang out at home for a few hours, and then drive south again for the 9 Hours Of Alpine Valley WEMS race. Taking an hour of driving off my schedule made for an easier approach to a day that I knew would be challenging enough.
I didn’t have high expectations for my race performance, and I didn’t get a high finish: 26th of 39 men in the 3-hour division. I clipped a tree early in Lap 1 and crashed, dropping me behind some traffic that I wouldn’t have fallen behind otherwise. On a course that is almost all singletrack, it took a while to reclaim the spots I lost. Meanwhile, a couple of guys with whom I thought I would contend were able to get away and I never saw them again. But meandering across the Alpine Valley ski hill, I was very pleased with my climbing ability. To whatever extent I had success against other racers, that was the reason. My descending skills remain shoddy but they got a good workout that afternoon, and only by challenging myself will I improve.
In a typical year I don’t show up until I have enough fitness to compete at a reasonable level. This spring I am trying to race myself into shape. I consider last Saturday a success because I pushed much harder than I would have in a non-competitive environment. I also picked up some series points that will be useful later. I’m expecting a better result on May 27 in the Stump Farm 100 at the Brown County Reforestation Camp in Suamico, where I usually race well. But my real targets on the WEMS calendar come at the end of the season: the Northern Kettles Fall Epic on September 9, the 9 Hours Of Silver Lake on September 16, and the WEMS Championships on October. It’s a long season and clearly I’m not yet where I need to be, but the wheels are in motion.