Sunday, September 16, 2012

2012 Lake Geneva Cyclocross

Today's course was awesome for racers and spectators alike.
I placed 6th out of 19 racers in Cat 4 Masters 45+ this morning at Lake Geneva and was really happy with my result.  Isn’t that funny?  It’s only one position higher than last weekend, but I feel so much better about it.  That’s the difference, I guess, between having high expectations and being more realistic.

Seven of the racers in today’s field were from Illinois.  I thought there might be many more and that in a big field I might have a low placing with few, if any, series points.  But several of the “usual suspects” from Wisconsin skipped today’s race for some reason.  Only two of the six guys who beat me at Sheboygan were on the starting line today, so with two mid-pack finishes I’m now up to 3rd place on points in the series.

Ken Krebs was today’s winner, closely followed by Dave Dineen, the new series leader.  Paul Fox took 3rd, Jed Schleisner 4th, and a late-charging Larry Gundlach 5th.  I was ahead of Gundlach until early in the final lap when he found some crazy second wind and just blew by me.

The course was outstanding, a great mix of fast sections and technical challenges.  I was good on the gravel road hill climb and over the double barriers whose placement turned a rideable hill into a run-up.  And on all four laps I rode well through the sand volleyball court.  Prior to the race I completed two practice laps and the experience helped a lot.  I handled all of the technical stuff well.  So, why only 6th place?  I think the answer is an inadequate warmup.

Cycling orthodoxy says: The shorter the race, the longer the warmup.  At about 30 minutes, my cyclocross races are very short.  At Sheboygan and again today, I had a good start but faded midway through Lap 1.  Somewhere in the middle of Lap 2, I rediscovered my legs and had plenty of punch from then on.  I think a longer warmup will get me over the hump, so that will be part of the pre-race strategy at East Troy on Sep. 29.

Disappointed with his 11th place finish today, Jeff Wren will try a longer warmup too.  Like me, he is fading after a strong start, then making a comeback.  Troy Sable took 10th place—I spent a long time looking at his back wheel, but I finally put him away on the run-up.  We’ll be back on the ’cross bikes this Tuesday for another practice session.  Practice will begin at 5:30 p.m., as usual, and we’ll start a 30-minute race simulation at 6 p.m.

And, by the way, during today’s race I surpassed 4,000 miles of cycling so far in 2012.  There’s an outside chance that this could be my second consecutive 5,000-mile year, but I won’t kill myself to reach that milestone.  Last year I reached 4,000 miles on Sep. 9, so I’m a week behind my 2012 pace.

By 11 a.m. it was already a nice Sunday, but the cherry on top was a late afternoon tour of Loops 1 & 2 at New Fane with my son Ryan.  For him, riding a bike is just a way to get around our neighborhood.  But today I was able to coax him into some mountain biking.  He did a good job, thanked me for taking him, and wants to go again sometime.

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