I had a good race last weekend in Rhinelander. I was hoping for a good result, but you know how that goes.
Tammy and I drove up to Rhinelander on Saturday but didn't pre-ride because of the weather. It rained all the way from Waupaca to Rhinelander and I just didn't feel like dealing with the mud, rain and then cleaning bikes afterwards. Okay, call me wussy!
I woke up a couple times during the night to hear it hailing once and then raining a couple hours later. Looks like I was going to get muddy after all.
Tammy and I got to the race area early enough to ride part of the beginning and then we cut over to ride the last mile in to the finish. Tammy got ready for her race and I headed down the course to get some photos. After watching Tammy come through and start her second lap I went and got ready for my race.
I did a short warm up on the road and headed to the staging area at the start. Between the 2 cups of coffee and a Roctane gel with double caffeine I was ready to jump right out of my skin! This thing better start damn soon!
Don sent us off with his usual GOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! and away we went. The race started with a long section on the gravel road through camp area. I tried to hang at the front of the pack but the first bunch just slowly pulled away. Well, I guess I know now that I have to work on my start!
After the long gravel section the trail narrowed a bit. Not quite single track since there was room to pass. It wound through the trees, twisting and turning and lots of nice ups and downs. I was trying to keep some of the racers in front of me in sight. I had no idea how I was doing or who was where. I felt like I had an awful start so I just put my head down and kept plugging along. I was slowly catching the slower riders from previous waves but wasn't really seeing any racers from my wave-50+ and Clydesdales.
There were a few sections in the single track that were a little greasy from the rain but nothing too bad. A couple nice puddles on some of the gravel road sections that were unavoidable. Overall the course was in remarkable shape considering the rain that fell overnight.
For most of the last part of the first lap and the first half of the second lap I felt like I was in no mans land. I couldn't really see or hear anyone in front of or behind me. My back was getting a little tight and my calves felt a little tight too. Occasionally I would see a rider in front of me and push just a little harder to catch him. I picked off a few racers this way.
Entering the last section of single track before the finish I could see two racers a little bit in front of me. I pushed a little harder thinking I could pick off one or two more before the finish. I caught them towards the end of the single track. From this point it is a gravel/dirt road to the finish-maybe a half mile. I tucked in behind these two and noticed the racer in front of me had a 50-54 on his back tag. Okay, now I just needed to stay on his wheel and hope I had just a little more than him at the line. He looked back once or twice but I'm sure he didn't know I was in his age group. Just as the finish line came in to view I came off his wheel and gave it everything I had. As I came by he realized we were racing for a position and tried coming around me but I had just enough to pip him at the line. That made me feel pretty good. In the finish chute he remarked how he hated getting beat by so little. That's racing though. I would expect him to do the same if the spots were reversed.
I had some food at the finish and waited for the results to be posted. I wandered over to look once they were posted and saw I had taken 2nd, .3 seconds ahead of the racer I had nipped at the line. 1:22:55.8-2nd in 50-54 and 61st over all in Sport.
All in all a good day. Tammy took 2nd in her class and met one of her main goals. I had a good race and know where I need to do some work. Now, a few weeks off and then it is the Big Ring Classic at Nine Mile Forest in Wausau. Can't wait!