My race in Sheboygan at the Wigwam MTB Challenge on October 10th was so-so, if judged on overall or class finish. I've done better, I've done worse. Having had a bit over a week to play it back in my head I would have to say it was one of my best races of the year.
Going in to the race I was in 3rd place in the WORS Sport Singlespeed class. I was too far behind 2nd to catch him but I was only 4 points ahead of 4th. I knew Anthony, the rider in 4th, was going to be in Sheboygan to try to knock me off the final podium. I was determined to not let that happen.
Tammy and I arrived in Sheboygan late on Saturday afternoon. I had worked 11 pm-7am the night before and needed my beauty sleep. We checked in at our hotel, changed and headed over Jaycee's Quarryview and Evergreen Parks to pre-ride the course. I rode on easy lap with Tammy and then did a faster lap solo. I finished in good shape and felt confident about Sundays race. My gear choice-32x16-seemed good on all but the "Equalizer" and the bike felt flawless.
Sunday was a perfect day for the race. Mid 60's and sunny, with very little breeze. You couldn't ask for better weather for early October. I watched the start of Tammy's Citizen race and caught glimpses of her at a view spots on her first lap. Then I headed off to change and get warmed up. I pedaled down the road and did laps around a small industrial park. After 20 minutes of easy pedaling I tossed in a couple hard efforts and made my way back to the starting line.
I got to the starting area with a few minutes to spare and noticed all of the top singlespeeders were there. I knew it was going to be a great race. I felt strong and relaxed waiting for our call ups. While we were waiting at the line Anthony remarked that he needed to finish two spots ahead of me to pass me in the final standings. My goal for the race was to not let that occur. I wanted to do well and have a strong race but goal number was-stay in front of Anthony at all costs!
Don Edberg-aka "Mr. WORS" -gave us our usual pep talk and pre-race instructions. I waited nervously for the countdown and Don's trademark GOOOOOOOOO!!!! *Note-if you've never experienced Don's starting ritual, you're missing a great spectacle!*
I had a fair start, as usual. I just never seem to get off the line strong and quick. Looks like I need to work on that for next season. I spun out my gear quickly and tried to hang on to the pack and keep an eye on the other singlespeeders. Just as we sped down a short paved section I saw Anthony off to my right. I knew the singletrack was coming up and I wanted to be ahead of him when we entered it. Just before the hard right in to the singletrack I passed him and put the hammer down. The first half of the course featured some longer sections of singletrack. I figured if I could get in front and put some riders between us I might be able to open a gap. Out of sight, out of mind. The singletrack was twisty and rooted but I pushed about as hard as I could without blowing up. I caught a small group of singlespeeders and 18 and under racers and we flew through the singletrack.
On a small gravel climb just before we crossed over to Quarryview Park, the leader in the singlespeed class, Jesse, caught me and blew right by. I looked back to see who had hooked an anchor to my bike. It was obvious why Jesse was in first.
I had a strong first lap. I kept pushing and tried to keep picking off riders. I was cruising through lap two when another singlespeeder caught me on a short but steep climb in some singletrack. I put a foot down when I lost momentum and he muttered some remarks about my riding ability and holding him up. That's putting it politely. He passed me and at the same time he lit a fire under me and gave me some added incentive to keep pushing. I latched on to his wheel and let him pull me along. I figured if he was that strong I'd let him do all the work. I stayed with him the remainder of lap two and most of lap three. At almost the same spot where I had held up his progress he dismounted and had to walk up the short climb. I took the opportunity to pass him and the doubled my effort. I wasn't letting him by again. I crossed over to Quarryview, dropped down on the singletrack along the river and headed to the screaming crowd on the Equalizer. I didn't entertain any thoughts of trying to ride it but got off and ran up the climb. Down the trail and around the quarry on the "Sheboygan slickrock". Every time I heard a bike behind me I just knew it was going to be Anthony. If I heard the click of a shifter and derailleur I knew I was safe. Back down along the river and back up through some loose sand. Under the bridge and across in to Evergreen Park and one last little section through some trees. I sprinted for the line like the devil was after me. I was just catching my breath and talking with Jesse and a couple other riders when Anthony came through. I had beaten him, but only by about fifteen seconds. At that point that was as good as fifteen minutes! If I had done my math right, I knew I had sewn up third overall and would be on the podium at the awards banquet.
I ended up 5th in singlespeed that day. The top 8 of us were only 2 minutes apart. I call that a tough and competitive field. And I would call that a good race and mission accomplished.
I've been relaxing and just enjoying myself the last week and a half. No structured training and nothing planned. But, my mind is whirring. I'm already thinking and planning for next season. I'll talk about that more when I get it firmed up and have some concrete goals.
Until then.........gotta go and enjoy the great fall weather.
Thanks for checking this out.