With Lake Maskenthine getting postponed….for the 2nd time this year, I had a rare weekend off from racing two weekends ago. It was kinda nice to stay home for the weekend. This past weekend…sometimes the best lessons learned are from the mistakes that we make. Last year, I had one of my best races ever at the WORS Cup. This year I pegged the WORS Cup as one of my ‘A’ races and I really felt like I was ready. My warm up consisted of a lap of the course, my legs felt fresh and I felt like I had all of the technical sections of the course dialed in. I got a 2nd row call up and had gotten off to one of my better starts, sitting somewhere near the top ten rolling into the singletrack.
Just before the start of the men’s Elite race, Don does a great job in creating a great atmosphere at all of the WORS races. It doesn’t get any better than this!
The 60+ strong Pro/Cat 1 field getting themselves all cross-eyed at the start.
Sitting at around 10th and feelin’ pretty good about things.
We hit the first techy section, which was a little muddy, but nothing major. I took a bad line and got re-routed into a tree. I was going pretty slow at the time, but it was enough to force me to unclip in one of the worst places. I lost several positions and had to put forth a lot of effort to regain the ground that I had lost. Because I was well rested, my heart rate was a lot higher than what I was used to. As most experienced mountain bike racers know, when you approach the red zone, the bike handling skills tend to go out the window. I was steadily making up some ground when we hit another technical section. I had ridden through the section several times and never really had any problems with it. Not this time as I t-boned a stump in the middle of the trail and ended up rolling over my handlebars. As I was re-mounting my stead, I noticed that my handlebars were miss-aligned. I tried like a madman to straighten them out, but they wouldn’t budge. Game over.
I rode down to the bottom of the hill and back to my car. While riding, I found myself trying to figure out what my emotions were and what to make out of the situation. I grabbed a wrench out of my toolbox, straightened my handlebars and hit the road for a long ride to get things sorted out. That turned out to be a great idea. I’ve driven a ton of miles throughout the state of Wisconsin, but I’ve never ridden a bike on the roads. It ended up being one of my most enjoyable rides on pavement with rolling hills, a variety of trees as far as the eye could see and the smell of pine. During the ride, I was able to sort out what went wrong with the race. It basically came down to getting myself into the red to early in the game, as a result, my bike handling went down the crapper. Lesson learned. The only casualty of the incident was a slightly bent brake rotor. It could have been a lot worse, so for that, I am very thankful. I also have to mention that Julie’s support throughout the mishap was pretty amazing. She is like minded enough to understand what a person goes through when things go in fuego for an ‘A’ race.
I made it back to the car with plenty of time to spare to help Julie get ready for her race. She was pretty nervous and had indicated that her legs felt like Jello brand gelatin. I did my best to give her assurance that it was the pre race jitters doing their thing. My advice to her was pretty simple, don’t make the same bone headed mistake that I made. Keep yourself in check at the start and chip away at the competition when things get settled down. Iowa City Cat 1, who will be a Pro soon, Robin Williams was there and gave Julie some much needed advice from another woman about riding through some of the technical sections. That ended up being a huge help for Julie and bolstered her confidence when it came time to throw it down.
Making preparations to unleash her fury on the women’s field shortly after the start.
Julie is really good at going around uphill corners.
Threading her way through one of the many sweet sections of singletrack.
Julie was rippin’ through the singletrack like a scalded dog.
Julie taking the corner like it’s bermed.
Julie ended up racing a very smart race, starting near the back of the 18 woman field. With all of the extra energy that I had from ‘not racing’, I ran all over the course, taking pictures and yelling encouragement. She rode through most of the technical sections exactly as Robin had advised and kept it rubber side down the entire race. She gradually worked her way through the field and pulled out a 5th place overall and 3rd in her age group. Starting near the back of the group most likely cost her one or two positions, however she is still very new to the mountain bike racing scene. With more racing will come more confidence, and confidence is what starts in races like this are all about. She’ll get there. I am extremely proud of and excited for her!
Julies’ diesel engine powered her to a strong finish.
Julie earned a shiny medallion and the highly coveted honor of standing on a WORS podium box.
Next up is another ‘A’ race up in Mankato, MN. I had a really good race last year with a 2nd overall, my best finish in an MNSCS race. My goal is to equal last years result, or maybe even improve it by one position…
Thanks for reading,