Thursday, May 7, 2015

Trading One Frustration For Another

I could feel the warmth in the woods today, but not the high winds!

Today was the warmest day so far this year. In West Bend we hit 81 degrees, making this our first 80-degree day since September 28, 2014. And yesterday I was riding with knee warmers! Of course, at this time of year an 80-degree day comes with a downside: very high winds from the south. With sustained winds in excess of 20 mph and gusts above 30, I didn’t want to be on the open road.

Mountain biking is a great alternative when the winds are high, so today I joined a couple of Team Pedal Moraine friends at Greenbush, site of the Northern Kettles Endurance Challenge. I will be there on Saturday to help the team but I won’t be racing. My only attempt at racing the Greenbush trails was my very first mountain bike race, way back on May 29, 2011. Riding a borrowed bike that was too small for me, I completed one lap in 75 minutes and called it a day. I had done two practice sessions at Greenbush in advance of the race: a full lap in 80 minutes on May 24, and Loops 1 & 2 on May 27 before I ran out of daylight.

I considered my race performance to be so poor that I didn’t return to Greenbush until April 21, 2012. On that occasion I completed one full lap but I don’t know what my time was … not fast, I assure you. And, believe it or not, that brings us to today. I completed one lap today and my time of 59 minutes, 52 seconds is easily the fastest of the four laps I have completed all-time.

Race laps at Greenbush are slightly longer than practice laps, but in a race I would push myself a little harder than I did today. So, today’s time is a pretty good estimate of how I might perform in competition. On Saturday the fastest guys will turn 45-minute laps routinely. That’s far beyond my ability, and it’s important to remember that there are no age groups or USA Cycling categories in WEMS races. Limping along at about 1 hour per lap, I might sneak into the Top 20. That prospect isn’t exciting enough to pull me into the race.

Today I rode Greenbush better than ever before, but I didn’t ride it cleanly. I stalled on a steep, rocky climb and I balked at a technical descent. I’m just not comfortable there. With more experience, maybe I could be. But New Fane is much closer, much more fun, and certain to remain my first choice when I want to go mountain biking.

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