Within the confines of a 30 mile race the course was awesome. The trails chosen, the way things were marked, the locations of aide stations, fireroads etc.. was all just perfect. Makwa trail is one of my favorites anywhere and it featured prominently. I remember riding it for the first time in the inaugural Cheq100 with Joe Meiser and a few others.
Somewhere on Makwa, photo by Darlene Prois
I had a really good time racing too. First XC race for a really long time and didn't know what to expect but found myself pushing things hard all day and really racing those around me. In the other disciplines I race you never have 30+ minute long battles with one person like this format created and that was really fun. I spent a lot of the day worrying about finding enough to beat the guys near me, particularly Todd Mcfadden and Nikolai Anikin and really had fun doing it. Wish I would have given a little bit more on the final doubletrack (the finish came up 'early' right around a corner) or I might have caught one more rider and finished 9th... but 10th was great for me. Especially with the top 6 or 7 all being very, very accomplished mountain bikers who I simply know I can't beat under any circumstances with my current handling skill set.
Another from Darlene Prois
Carpool teammate Trevor finished a very strong 5th. I was disappointed for him that despite the $16,000+ generated by our entry fees that the prizes only went down to third overall. There also wasn't any give away stuff at the awards. In a way, I'm ok with this but in another I am not so sure. I'm not a fan of having tons and tons of categories to the point of giving everyone an award either and I'm not a fan of giving stuff out at the expense of the mission of the event (in this case raising money for the trails). I'd really like to know exactly how much of that money winds up going back into the trails. Also, and I only speak for myself, but I would suspect that neither Trevor nor I will be back next year and that we would have been more likely to come back if we had at least covered our entry fees (which with a 200+ person field you'd think top 10 might accomplish). It might be true that by not having prizes they will actually wind up bringing in less net money for the trails due to the effect of fewer higher profile riders showing up... which also probably dovetails with other riders not showing up because I think people like that have some influence. Everyone wants to be in races with good people right? I don't usually analyze the prize list like this and I know I sound like a whiner, but this was also the single most expensive race I've ever entered.
The party after the race was fun. I love the wood fired pizza and beer is always good. We were good sports and stayed for the awards even though we had gotten word with regards to their only being 3 places and no age classes or anything. Then it was a long drive over to Wausau...
Cleaned my bike in the bathroom of our hotel, ate some great dinner at the Great Dane, watched some turtle man and got some serious rest. Barely got up in time for hotel breakfast.
I was remembering being likely to finish DFL in the Elite WORS field. Just two years and two XC races ago (3 if you count the one I raced in 24 hours prior) that was certainly the case. I didn't know what would be in store for me at Nine Mile but I sure didn't want to get DFL. My mustache is a no DFL mustache. Plus about 75% of my girlfriend's family was either working the race or attending and they were probably all going to notice if I sucked it up.
The start was fast but I felt ok and hung in there. Near the end of the first lap someone called out that I was in 15th! Cool! Group of 5 formed and I attacked them a couple times on 2nd lap but my gaps kept disappearing in the technical areas. Somewhere late in lap two my legs powered down for a couple minutes and I think I felt the effect of the 'epic' and that group was gone. Last two laps I just fought to stay ahead of those behind me on the singletrack and to put time into them on the open sections. Was able to do just that for 20th overall and an elite age category top step... Feel really good about the attack I put in over the last mile to put away two riders who had caught and ridden most of the last lap with me.
I look nonchalant but it was more of a "really, I never expected to be on this box... I'm lucky!". Truly, I was lucky. Matt Shriver technically royally kicked my ass in my age class but got 2nd overall so I got the win by 'default'.
Top step (however earned it was) means Mexican food and beer! Then a long drive home.
My plan for this coming weekend has been to go to Galena for their Omnium... but I can't take Friday off or drive all night so I would only be able to do the crit and road race. Hardly any prize money there and just don't feel that compelled otherwise. Found a different combination of races that sound like way more fun... so we are headed back to Wisconsin once again! This time for a WEMS race, some packrafting and a crit all in the Green Bay area! Doesn't get better than that in my book. Well, other than that I have a hard time even wanting to enjoy myself in Green Bay due to hating the Packers so much... but I guess Vikings have always traveled and plundered.
This river is high on the list for between the racing...