I came back to Wisconsin so that I could do a lot of great racing while avoiding the summertime in the desert. On short notice I decided that I was best of to travel with Brian Matter to Michigan for some UCI cyclocross racing. I’ve never done UCI cross racing and I’ve just done a dozen or so state races in my life so it was certainly a test of skill, fitness, and motivation. I came through all right and had fun with the experience. Without any UCI points I got to start in the back and work my way up.
This worked out alright though by the time the second lap was done, the lead group was long gone and I was riding solo. I kept it hard and steady to finish a repsectable 13th place. Not too shabby for a first-ever attempt. Not only did Bruce LeBlanc snap some good pictures of the action, he saved my race on Saturday. I flatted just minutes before our start on Saturday and he was there to quickly help me get a tube in my rear wheel. With his help I was in race mode and set to go.
Day two I had a better call up, but the motivation wasn’t 100% out there. For whatever reason I just wasn’t into the suffering and my riding suffered as a result. I would hang on a wheel and then get gapped off. This happened numerous times and I went on to finish a distant 20th. It was a bummer to never really click into ‘race mode’, but at least I gave it a shot out there. The season has been plenty long and action packed and this was honestly the first time that I wasn’t totally into it… A break is soon due.
But first, I’ll be doing the Mad Cross UCI races here in Madison. Some big names will be in attendance and the number of superfans is sure to dwarf those spectating in Michigan. Everyone seems to be really excited for the weekend and I think that energy will carry me through a couple of one hour races. Given’r two more times for an hour a day won’t be too much to ask and I’m looking forward to a couple more UCI’s now that I know what to expect.
If you’re anywhere’s close to Madison I suggest you make the trip to watch the UCI Cyclocross this weekend. It ought to be a great show – fitting for my Midwest finale before I head back to Tucson. See you there, -TJ
I've done the Chequamegon twelve consecutive years and Saturday was my first trip to the podium. Back in the Short and Fat days I once placed 4th, but never a top three so it was a great experience to get up there alongside two highly accomplished pros. This race is a homecoming of sorts since the starting line is just 25 miles from my hometown. Being around family and so many friends makes this event unlike any other. While I go to most bike races, with Chequamegon it's almost as if the race comes to me.I knew that I was prepared for a great finish as a lot of good energy went into the preparations. It's not just the training or preceding races that had me set, but a great amount of mental energy that went into the planning and execution of this race. Most will agree that it's a race where avoiding mishaps is equally important as pedaling hard. The road lead out, the fast corners, the sharp rocks, the puddles, the wheel to wheel action, the gritty drivetrains, and the rain are all reasons for concern. Good planning goes a long ways and little bit of luck helps out too. The competition was as tough as ever with a lot of fast dudes at the starting line. I played it safe on the leadout and was right where I needed to be once we got to Rosie’s. Before OO I kept collected and towards the front, but never really got on the pace too much since all of the real action happens much later in the race. Jeff rode off the front of the group through the narrower trails after Martel's Pothole, countering off of Bender's move. I was towards the rear of our 10 or so man group when Jeff rode off. No one wanted to work together in chasing, even when the gap had grown to 45 seconds. I wanted a chance at winning and that wasn't going to happen by sitting in and looking around so I put in a couple hard digs only to be quickly chased. Most seemed content only to follow and not to contribute so I continued with most of the pace making. Chris and Mike were the exceptions, Chris put in some help early while Mike later pulled the entire stretch down Telemark Rd. Page did zero to help the chase, but he did have a nice hard attack saved up to bridge to Jeff once we hit the final Birkie trail section. These were good tactics on his part since he did the least amount of work possible to still get the win. I couldn't match his pace when he went for it, but kept on to fight for third with hopes that we might catch Jeff. This didn't happen, but I was able to shed the rest for the final podium spot. Some nice pictures of my chase train can be found here.
It was some close racing and good battling out there. Jeff was brave to attack and it made for some exciting racing. I'm very pleased with third and I don’t know that I would have been better off any other way. I had the biggest cheering section at the finish and it was a nice view from the podium. Thanks to everyone who was there and also to all of those who helped get me there. It has been an incredible season and having yet another 'break through' day for Chequamegon was an incredible experience.
Up next will be some UCI Cyclocross racing, something I've never done before. I'll head back to Tucson soon as I'm about due for a break from all the racing, but before that happens some of these bigger cross events ought to be fun. This weekend will be a trip to Michigan and then the following will be UCI races here in Madison. We'll see how they go... TJ
A solid day on the bike. Close enough to know that a W is possible one of these times… Grandma Judy wins the award for best/most timely photographer with the following pictures. A report is sure to follow later. Thanks to all who make this race excellent.
After the Maplelag Stage Race I did my own ‘stage four’ on Monday with a reconnaissance tour of the Chequamegon 40 course. Ron joined in on the action in order to maintain what has become somewhat of a annual tradition. I don’t necessarily go to scout out the tricky sections, rather it’s more about regaining a connection with the race course. It’s nice to have some along time with trail before living out the racing action. It’s easy for the mind to switch into race mode while visualizing the race playing out. Doing the preride helps to meld a lot of preparations along with a great deal of mental energy. I ought to have a good combination going for Saturday…
a view from the cabin at WORS
This past weekend was the WORS Smokin’ Spoke race near Rhinelander. I did the drive on Saturday afternoon with just enough time for preride of the course. Plenty of tough singletrack was what I found. Staying with some good friends Saturday night proved to be relaxing and enjoyable. Our lake cabin accommodations were awesome. I was well set for Sunday though it was odd having not raced the day prior.
While pedaling on a downhill I smashed my left pedal into a big rock about ten minutes into the race. The impact had me and the bike sailing through the air and off to the right of the trail with my left leg detached from the bike. I rode it out alright and ended up a couple feet off course and into the woods. It was a good scare and thankfully it wasn’t any worse. The leaders were riding off while I remounted and started the chase. Not more than 10 seconds later I realized that I was dragging a sizable stick from the derailleur which needed to be removed. Another stop cost me several more places. Now I was really back in action and chasing hard, but not crazy-hard. It didn’t take too much to get back to fifth after Chris-P flatted. From here I could not see anyone in front, nor any one behind me. Knowing that a battle was surely shaping up at the front end of the race I wasn’t super motivated to chase. Don called the race early and I called it a good training effort. I missed out on the head to head battling, but I suppose if the off days still yield a top five overall, things are going well enough. Most of the race I was daydreaming about the Chequamegon anyways… With some quick math it looks as if I’ve locked up a top 3 Elite finish for the ’08 series. It’s been fun returning to the series that first got me hooked on this knobby-tired game.
Labor Day weekend at Maplelag was once again an excellent time. My dad joined in for the trip so he got to enjoy the occasion as well. The racing was fast, the food was excellent and the sense of community continues to go unmatched. Maplelag is the best place to go to catch up with friends, both on and off the bikes.
The TT started things off Saturday morning and Brendan once again edged me out, this year by just a tenth of second. Doug blitzed the course topped both of us by nine seconds seconds. This set the tone as it was sure to be a fast weekend with close racing. Saturday evening we raced the STXC on a fast and technical course. Jay’s course has a bunch of high-speed corners, a steep climb and a couple other sections that keep you on your game – there’s no mindless hammering as you have to keep sharp out there. I kept near the front and rode with Doug and Brendan for the most part. We kept it just hard enough to keep the chasers just off of us. Doug had the biggest last lap jump and beat me to the line though things were closely matched out there. Going into Sunday’s XC I would have to go for the win and hope to have Doug finish thirty some seconds (he earned the biggest time bonuses) behind me so that I could get the overall.
The arm wrestling competition between Paul and Mr Anderson was Saturday night’s biggest entertainment. Apparently they’d competed before and were both looking for a good rematch. Paul won with the right arm while Chris was victorious with the left. A crowd of 20+ enjoyed the back and forth battle. With one win a piece, they’ll both be doing some serious training for next time.
Sunday came around quickly, but waiting until the 1:15 start time took it’s time. I was well prepared and ready to race. With plenty of hard back to back days recently, I was set to go. Doug set the pace and I followed closely behind until a slight bobble had me stopping to get the chain back on the rings. After losing three spots or so I kept it cool and steady, gaining ground towards the front of the race. By the time I caught Eric and Brendan, Doug had popped and Sam was off the front by himself. I kept the pace steady and chased solo for a full lap and a half before finally catcing Sam. With just two thirds of the final lap left I was feeling tired, but good about my odds. I was able to extend the lead by just enough before the finish so it wasn’t too nervous at the line. It was a blast to have won the XC after dealing with the tough course, the heat, and the competition out there. Wrapping up the overall win was rewarding as well.
A big thanks to Jay and Jonell along with their staff at Maplelag. It was a great weekend with some fast racing and plenty of relaxation – all part of a good Chequamegon preperation…