Thursday, October 16, 2008
Sheboygan - WORS #12
WORS point man Don Edberg doing the Elite Men's call ups.
October is a great time in Wisconsin, the weather is usually really nice and the fall colors are absolutely amazing! I always look forward to the WORS season finale up in Sheboygan, WI. Julie’s season ended last weekend with a fairly successful Ironman 70.3 down in Austin, TX. The swim course was short, so it was pretty difficult to gage her swim performance, however she did set a new PR on the bike leg, so she was pretty amped to get back out and do some more competitive cycling this fall to take advantage of her newfound cycling fitness. What better way than to do a mountain bike race!
I drove up to Ames on Friday and loaded Julie and her stuff into the Jeep, then we hit the road for Tyrine’s up in Milwaukee. We all went out for a nice dinner in Milwaukee, then met up with a bunch of others for Mikey’s bachelor party. They rented an old school bus, complete with a keg of beer and a driver that was a ringer for Fat Albert. We had a couple of beers, then headed back to the homestead for some shut eye.
We headed up to Sheboygan the next day for a course recon. I did a lap with Julie to show her the ropes, then I went off and did a lap and a half on my own to get a couple of sections dialed in. We all finished at about the same time, and the smile on Julie’s face told me all that I needed to know about her thoughts on the course. She was pretty stoked about doing the race the next day!
On Sunday, we headed up to Sheboygan with enough time for Julie to get in a decent warm up before her 10am start. The women’s Citizen race had 40 starters and the series leaders all got call ups. As a result, Julie had to start near the back. WORS series director, Don Edberg, started the countdown and then it was ‘Gooooooooooooo’ time! Julie had a pretty good start and held back a little on the first lap to keep herself out of trouble and also to get a feel for the course and the other racers at race pace.
Julie negotiating her way over some large stones like a pro.
I sat, waited and watched the Citizen field go by about midway through the first of two laps. Several women came by and I think Julie finally came through somewhere around mid pack. After she went by, I scurried over to the Equalizer, a crazy steep hill that most racers end up hucking their bike up, rather than riding. She was still in about the same place and she looked pretty comfortable. It was pretty obvious that she was having a great time because she was able to flash me a great smile as she reached the top of the hill!
Julie enjoys mountain bike racing, even when she's huckin' her bike up the Equalizer.
After she topped to Equalizer, I scurried back over to the other side of the course and waited by the rock drop, another good place for a photo op. The first two women came by, third place rolled through about 30 seconds later. To my surprise, Julie came through in 4th about ten seconds behind third! Man was I stoked! After she went by, I rode back over to the Equalizer and waited at the top. The first woman to hit the bottom was Julie! She had passed the first three women and had a pretty solid hold on first overall. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was for her! I jumped back on my bike and headed over to the finish line in hopes of getting there before she did.
Railin' a corner, in pursuit her next victim.
She was going really fast here.
I made it to the start and shortly thereafter, the first woman came through… and it wasn’t Julie. Julie had taken a bad line through a sandy section, stalled out and had to get off her bike and run the rest of the section. As she was dismounting, she got passed and that was it. Regardless, it was a pretty amazing result for her first WORS race and only her 3rd mountain bike race. I am extremely proud of her! And to top it all off, the great result really lit a fire in her belly to do more…. I can definitely relate! If you enjoy mountain bike racing and you’ve never done a WORS race, you need to. It’s a pretty impressive organization, it’s the largest state series in the nation, it’s well run, the competition is about as tough as it gets and I always have a great time whenever I go up there.
Even though she finished 2nd overall, Julie finished 1st in her age group and earned the top spot on the podium!
After Julie’s race, I negotiated my way back to the car through the parking area, which contained enough vehicles to transport nearly 700 mountain bike racers to Sheboygan, WI. I began my usual pre race meal of a box of Kellogg’s Mueslix and water. About an hour before my start I suited up and began my warm up. My legs felt pretty good and I felt pretty good about my chances of having a good day. My goal for the day was a top ten finish. Because of the large payouts and it being the season finale, the Elite field is usually stacked with most of the top pros and semi-pros from the Midwest.
As the start approached, the series leaders and pro’s got call ups. My name was called early enough that I was able to slot myself into the 2nd row, behind Cole House and Salsa pro Jeff Hall. The countdown began, then it was Goooooooooooooo! Once again my engine balked at the cross eyed effort that is required to be near the pointed end of the field going into the singletrack. I ended up somewhere near mid-pack of the 50 strong field of pros and experts. I felt pretty comfortable throughout the first of five laps and was able to pick off quite a few others as the lap progressed.
Cole House gunning for the hole shot.
It was pretty much the same deal during the 2nd lap and I didn’t really know where I was place wise. During lap 3, I could see Landon Lueck ahead of me. Landon has had some pretty impressive results this season, including a 4th overall a Chequamegon. So I figured that I must be pretty close to the top ten as he is a regular in the top ten for WORS races. A little later in the lap, I caught and passed him. After we hit the Equalizer, I saw Julie and she told me that I was in 9th. Saweet! I still felt really good with two laps to go and felt like I still had a lot left in the tank.
Enjoying the flow.
About midway through lap 4, I saw Nathan Guerra up the trail. I turned the screws a little tighter and managed to reel him in. I sat on for a short while in the singletrack, and once the trail opened up, I opened the throttle and passed him. As I began the last lap, I could see Dallas Fowler and Tom Bender up the trail. I buried my head and caught up to them about ¼ of the way through the lap. As we hit a tight, twisty section, Dallas hit a wet root the wrong way and got himself crossed up. I was on his wheel and was just barely able to get by without plowing into him. Bender was able to open a small gap and it took me a little while to close it back up.
Bender has a pretty sweet set of Bobke-esque pork chops.
I rode behind Bender through another fairly tight section for a while and we eventually got stuck behind a few comp riders. Tom handled it well, and it sounded like he was actually coaching the guy ahead of him through a pretty technical section… cool stuff. The trail eventually opened up and we were able to get by. I stayed on Tom’s wheel until we hit the gravel climb. I kept it in the big ring and dropped the hammer going up the hill. I went by Tom and he responded by staying with me to the top. As we hit the top, he politely requested that I not do that again. I managed to laugh a little despite the fact that I couldn’t see straight. I kept the pressure on, hoping that I could maybe drop him. A short while later, I couldn’t hear anybody behind me and I later learned that he had dropped his chain. By the time he got his chain back on, I was down the trail. Too bad, it would have been painfully fun to duke it out with him to the end.
Cruisin' down the Pucker Factor.
Clawing my way up the Equalizer.
Nearing the 'summit' of the Equalizer.
I kept looking ahead, hoping that the guy in 4th would appear ahead of me, but he never did. I ended up finishing in 5th overall, extremely happy with another great result! Gary Fisher pro Jesse Lalonde won with a time of 1:52:06. USA Cycling U23 team member Cole House finished in a close 2nd with a time of 1:52:29. Salsa / Powerbar pro Jeff Hall came in third with a time of 1:54:41, Adventure 212 pro Chris Peariso came in 4th in 1:56:49 and I rounded out the top 5 with a time of 1:57:48.
Men's overall winner Jesse Lalonde.
Hangin' out on the podium, I got to stand on a box.
So once again, I managed to exceed my expectations. I’ve had a pretty phenomenal season and I had a lot of help from a lot of awesome people! When I first got into mountain bike racing, I never thought that I would take it as far as I have nor did I intend to. I did my first race back in 1998 and I was blown away by how much fun it was… and that was the beginning of my addiction. I do this a lot, and for good reason, but there are many that need to be thanked for their amazing support. First and foremost, God for blessing me with a great life and health, both of which would are essential for success in what I love to do! My Mom and Dad, both are in their 60’s and still very active. They inspire me in so many ways and have supported me in all of my active endeavors throughout my life. Julie for her amazing amount of support, encouragement and companionship. She is a personal trainer and a triathlon/running coach and I have always been self coached, so we have a lot of great conversations about training, etc. and bounce a lot of ideas off of each other.
Rasmussen Bike Shop… you will not find a better shop anywhere. Every time I walk into the shop, I’m greeted like I’m a best friend. Their support for all forms of racing has been unmatched over the years, they carry the best products available and you will not get better service from any other shop. Simply put, they are the best of the best!
Phil Godkin of Orbea, Louis Garneau, Probar and Sockguy and Rob Versteegh of Oakley (not necessarily in that order). Both have supported me with the best products available and I’m always flattered that they find value in helping me out.
Friends… I have the best group of friends that a person could ask for. Whether it be out on training rides, races or on the sidelines cheering me on at races. I get a lot of motivation from all of the them!
What’s next? It’s full on beer, pizza, hamburger and French fry season!! Now that the season is over, I’m planning to sell a number of things that I’ve had in my garage all year, I’ll put all of it on the blog in the next couple of weeks. If you’re on the market for a bike, you’ll have to look elsewhere as I’ve already sold the Orca and I’m pretty sure that I have a buyer for the 2006 Orbea Oiz.
I’m also partaking in a joint effort with I.O.W.A. for the 2nd annual women’s only mountain biking clinic on October 18 at the old Science Center of Des Moines. I think it’s going to be a pretty big event this year with lot’s of great sponsors, a ton of free schwag, some free food not to mention that it’s free to all who wish to participate! For more details, visit http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/IORCA/ or the official website of co-host I.O.W.A. at http://www.iowaoutdoorwomen.com.
Thanks for reading,