This year it seemed like racing came up fast and my "base training" period was short. But I am always excited to start toeing the line every season and this year was no different.
My first race of the season was Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS) race #2, up north in Rhinelander. I haven't raced this stop in a few years because I usually head to Indiana for the Northern Indiana Fat and Skinny Tire Fest instead. But this year, since I missed race #1 due to a wedding, I decided I'd better not skip two in a row and I headed up to Rhinelander.
The first race of the season is traditionally rough for me. This year it arguably went slightly better, I was able to finish 4th behind a raging Nathan Guerra and Cole House and a very strong Brian Matter. I wish I would have been able to stay with the leaders early, but I'll take a 4th at the first race of the year.
Hurtin' at the first race of the year chasing fast guys.
Next up after WORS #2 was one of the few crits I still do every year, Snake Alley in Burlington IA. For those of you who aren't familiar here is how the race flier describes the race:
"the Snake Alley Criterium is held on a fifteen block course, with differences in elevation from 555 feet to 678 feet. The course is entirely on city streets, mostly in a downtown commercial area. A one block long climb is on the historic brick street named Snake Alley, dubbed "the crookedest street in the world." The 276 foot long Snake Alley has 5 switchbacks in a sixty foot climb. The average grade is 12.5 percent in that one block. Bring a suitable gear cluster for that kind of climbing. This is one of the most physically challenging races in the Midwest".
Its a hard one for sure and a race I have always want to do well at. I was hoping to improve on my best place of 4th a few years ago.
The race went reasonably well and I was able to bridge to the winning break about half way through, but unfortunately didn't have the legs to stick with it and after about 3 laps had to fall back to the chasing pack of about 10 riders. I tried a few more moves, not wanting it to come down to a sprint, but nothing worked and I ended up rolling across the line in 9th place. A solid top 10 but a bit bitter sweet after getting so close to sticking it for a top 3.
Off the front on the Snake with eventual winner Chris Uberti
Warming up before the Snake on my Sport Crafter rollers. It is important to get a good warm-up in before such an intense race.I finished off my three week opening block of racing at WORS #3 right outside Madison at Cam Rock Park. This is one of my favorite WORS races, the trail is awesome and it is fun racing so close to home.
The race went well and I was able to finish in 4th once again. A solid result that I will hope to improve on over the next few races. I rode strong but don't yet have the power to stay with the leaders when the racing gots fast. Hopefully the racing and training I have been putting in will pay off as the season progresses and I am able to fight for the win at the front of the race instead of finishing just off the back.
Ripping the single track at Cam Rock in my new POC helmet and sunglasses.
This last week I put in what will probably be my biggest volume training week of the season at just over 19hrs. The legs felt good and the time I did on the mountain bike will hopefully up my handling skills as well.
Overall I am very pleased with my first three races. It would have been great to secure at least one top 3 finish but I was consistent and I know my fitness will only improve as time goes along.
This weekend I will be headed to WORS #4 in Wausau. It will be tough race for sure, but I'm ready to give it another go!