Sunday, September 27, 2015

At Sixes And Sevens

I was feeling strong on Saturday at Cross-Shooshko. (Nicki Lock photo)

Last weekend I skipped the WCA cyclocross race in Lake Geneva because I expected to be too fatigued to perform well on the Sunday after a 3-hour mountain bike race at New Fane. Perhaps I should have trusted my powers of recovery. At this weekend's races in Milwaukee, I had a lot of stamina and just enough technique to grab a pair of Top 10 finishes among the Cat 3 racers in the 45+ age group of the Masters 1/2/3/4 class.


I worked overnight on Friday and left the office in Brookfield shortly after 7 a.m. It wouldn’t have made sense to drive back to West Bend for just a few minutes at home, so I went to McDonald’s for hotcakes. Cheap and bland, you say? Exactly, I say: it was worth every bit of $2.49, a big 600+ calorie shot in advance of the race, and guaranteed not to upset my stomach. Shortly after 8 a.m. I checked in at the registration table, then turned a couple of practice laps on the Kosciuszko Park course. It was different from last year’s course and bumpy as hell, but I thought it suited me. I knew it would favor power riders who could stay on the gas and wouldn’t be too challenged by the course’s technical features. As the morning races began, I retreated to the parking lot and tried to relax in the back of my minivan. I had a pillow and a sleeping bag and I would have welcomed an hour of slumber, but it wouldn’t come. At least I was calm and quiet. I got back on the bike at 10:15 and spent the next hour warming up and touring the course when there were breaks in the racing.

The course improved dramatically as the morning dew yielded to the sun and wind. I got a good start and was able to hold fast lines through corners that had been slick during my practice laps. But midway through Lap 1 the race leaders were already out to a big lead and I seemed to be the first among everyone else. Nobody passed me in the second half of the lap, so I guess I was tapping out a reasonable pace. On Laps 2 and 3, John Lichtenberg (Diablo Cycling) and Reed Cornia (5Nines/Motorless Motion) were close behind me but all other rivals were fading fast. Lichtenberg came around on Lap 4 and I was almost glad for the opportunity to follow. We were well matched today—as we have been in many races over the years—and he couldn’t ride away from me. But I spent the remainder of the race trying to figure out how to get that position back. I was faster in some spots, but Lichtenberg was consistently better at getting back into his pedals and speeding away from obstacles. Barriers placed near the end of the lap were my undoing: I just couldn’t match Lichtenberg in that section and there wasn’t enough racecourse on which to recover lost time before the finish line.

I was 12th of 26 racers in Masters 45+ Cat 1/2/3/4, 7th of the 11 Cat 3 racers. Arlen Spicer (Belgianwerkx) took the win, followed by Greg Ferguson (Trek Midwest Team) and Steve Sarver (Team Velocause). I overtook 9 of the 25 guys in the 35+ age group, despite starting a minute behind their wave. I rode a very strong race and my mid-pack result is no disappointment to me. The guys who beat me were really good.

Velocause Cross

Sarver, Spicer and Ferguson shuffled the deck on Sunday at Humboldt Park, finishing in that order while I placed out 15th of 30 overall and 6th of 13 Cat 3 racers.

The day began with McDonald’s hotcakes again … can’t recommend them enough! But getting something like 10 hours of sleep last night didn’t hurt. I had tons of energy today, and I needed it to ride well on a course that featured more elevation change, tighter turns, and more technical off-camber stuff than I had faced on Saturday. On the first lap I did my best to stay with the front runners. I rode well but not that well. I settled into a sustainable groove on Lap 2. By the midpoint of the race I was in a really fun fight with Chicago’s Jeremy Treister (Half Acre Cycling), whose son Solomon won the Juniors 15-18 race earlier in the day. I attempted to pass Jeremy on a couple of occasions as the race approached its conclusion, but he was tough to get around. Late in the last lap I got him on the second of two closely-spaced off-camber descents. When I shot up the short hill that followed, it looked like Jeremy couldn’t respond. Just to be sure, I jumped into the big ring for the first time all weekend and went into the drops for the fast dash to the finish line.

Up Next

Racing in the Milwaukee area on a Saturday after a Friday night shift is one thing; driving out to Dane County is another. The October 3 race at Badger Prairie is off my calendar. I will be back in action on Sunday, October 4, at The People’s Cross in Oshkosh. Then I will have a little mid-season break instead of participating in the Trek CXC Cup, October 10-11. My mother will be in town that weekend and I want to give her as much of my time as she can tolerate!

More immediately, the last of this year’s cyclocross practice races at Royal Oaks Park will be held at 5:30 p.m. this Tuesday. It could be a somewhat chilly finale to what has been a warm series, and we can work with the temperature drop. But rain could force a cancellation, so watch the Facebook page if there’s any doubt.

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