Saturday, September 13, 2014

2014 Northern Kettles Fall Epic

More than a month ago I said that I would love a Top 10 finish in this year’s Northern Kettles Fall Epic mountain bike race at New Fane, and today I achieved my goal.

The men’s 3-hour category was won by 37-year-old Vince Steger (Brazen Dropouts), a Cat 1 from Fitchburg, who turned 7 laps in 2:38:51. Ted Hanes (Team Fond du Lac Cyclery) was second: 7 laps in 2:43:03. Ben Schreiber (Linear Sport) was third: 7 laps in 2:43:39. Greg Van Slyke, Pedal Moraine’s outstanding mechanic, rode his fat bike to fourth: 6 laps in 2:33:10. Next up were Jeramey Werbelow (Team Extreme), Chris Tamborino (Expo Racing), Brett Edgerle (Fat Kats), and Pedal Moraine owner Mark Ramsey.

Jeff Wren (Team Extreme) took ninth place: 6 laps in 2:41:08. I was 10th in 2:41:13. Late in the final lap I was right on Jeff’s wheel, but another racer had to dismount to get over the last steep little hill and riding around him was clumsy. I ran out of racecourse before I could recover the lost time. That’s too bad, because late in the race I was really gunning for Jeff:

Jeff     Lap     Dave
26:08     1      27:14
26:01     2      26:41
26:25     3      26:47
27:11     4      26:55
28:00     5      26:47
27:23     6      26:49

Oh, well. In the end, it was really Lap 1 that I couldn’t overcome. I didn’t get an especially good start, and late in the first lap I had to dismount to get around a rider who stalled on a tricky hill. On the other laps I was a model of consistency. Those times are in line with recent practice laps at New Fane, and today’s laps were slightly longer because of an extra loop cut into the grass around the timekeeper’s tent. At the beginning of Lap 4 I paused to exchange an empty water bottle for a full one, so the actual ride time for that lap was 26 minutes and 40-something seconds too.

I performed well and so did the bike. But, in my mind, my 10th-place finish comes with a little asterisk. Dan Schaefer (Team Fond du Lac Cyclery) was off to a very strong start and almost certainly would have ridden to a Top 5 finish if not for a flat tire on Lap 2. He flatted again later in the race. These things happen and he knows that, and he will be back.

The 3-hour men's field was 35 riders strong, a good turnout for a WEMS race and probably at least a little bit the result of bad weather and course conditions in northern Wisconsin, where the popular Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival was held earlier today.

That’s the end of my 2014 mountain bike racing season. Cyclocross is the focus from now until the end of the year.

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