Monday, August 20, 2012

2012 Subaru Cup

I wasn’t asking for a lot on Sunday as I arrived at the Nordic Mountain ski area near Mount Morris for the Subaru Cup, the eighth race on the WORS calendar.  All I really wanted was to extend my advantage over Brad Jorsch in the battle for 2nd place overall behind series leader Jim Steig, who has an insurmountable points lead in the Cat 3 (Citizens) 40-49 age group.  But with support from teammates and friends at almost every turn, I got a lot more from the race than a mere defense of my series standing.

I had almost no sleep overnight and was a bit lethargic as I completed a slow practice lap before checking in at the registration desk.  Then I turned in a faster practice lap and felt a little better about things as I lined up for the start of the race.  My pre-ride had assured me that the course offered no major technical hardships and that my climbing ability would again prove useful, just as it had at Sunburst, Crystal Ridge and Iola.

The start was modest, not an all-out sprint.  Racers knew that it wouldn’t be long before they had to start climbing.  In pretty short order I was in a leading group that included Steig, his teammate Paul Baltus, and Ernie Huerta, from whom I expected a strong result.  But while climbing early in the lap, Huerta got too close to the loose edge of the trail and crashed.  Steig and Baltus remained ahead of me.  Jorsch didn’t have an especially good start and was losing ground.  Knowing that two of my main rivals were behind me, I tried to match the pace of the JVC/Michael’s teammates.  That task quickly became more difficult as we caught the slower riders from the 30-39 age group, which had started 1 minute ahead of us.  Steig was getting away and it looked for a while like he was taking Baltus with him.

But I rode really well on the second half of Lap 1, and at the start of Lap 2 I was right behind Baltus.  Steig was out of reach by now, but Baltus appeared to be struggling.  I passed him on a short climb and slowly opened a gap.  Then I spent most of the lap reeling in riders from earlier waves, putting them behind me as a shield against a late charge from a series rival.  I got a little ragged toward the end and had to hop off the bike twice in the span of about 500 meters to recover from bad lines in the singletrack.  Steig completed the course in 36:15.5.  I was second in 38:10.1, followed by Dave Howell (38:23.0) and then Huerta (38:35.5), who recovered well after his crash.  Baltus was next at 38:45.4, followed by Jorsch at 39:17.9.

In the Best 7 format that WORS uses to determine the series champion, Sunday’s result replaces my 9th place finish at CamRock.  Jorsch replaces his 12th place finish at Crystal Ridge.  If I’ve done the math correctly, I extended my lead over him by another 7 points and we now stand at 1,305-1,263.  Mathematically, he still could overtake me, but my success on Sunday makes it much harder.  And I expect to do well next Sunday in the Reforestation Ramble at Suamico.  With a good race there I might be able to skip the remaining three WORS races and concentrate on the early races of the WCA cyclocross season.

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