Packrafting the Zumbro/Hedged Bets Supposedly Cheq 100, Tour of America's Dairyland, RW Memorial MN Mountain Bike Series or none of the above?

Local paved bike-paths today...  you can imagine what the mountain bike trails look like, how often it's rained on the road group rides etc..  This spring is in some ways a 'bust' but I guess if you play your cards right there is always something good in it.  Skip down below for more packrafting stuff from today and to avoid the maze of negativity, confusion and poor performances discussed between here and the next picture.

Hedged bets: blah, blah, blah

I know I don't appreciate a certain level of heat/humidity very well.  This is why I started racing on the road to begin with as it was a hedge against being forced to ride in the woods where it's even hotter.  At least the air flow on the road gave me a fighting chance.  Hedge #1.

I'm not sure what the Chequamegon 100 is about anymore.  There was so much attitude that I didn't understand being thrown around on the facebook feed in the weeks leading up to it.  In short, myself and a couple other people were made to feel like d-bags for asking questions/wanting to know things that pertained to racing this event.  Apparently we are supposed to give up our hard-earned money, a weekend packed with other events etc. and not give a shit about competing and/or getting lost.  I get that they have a lot of people who come to this event just to ride and I appreciate that (hell, see my own event).  I don't get why that means I can't want to use any sort of map I want and more importantly to try my hardest (which I was made to feel was not in the spirit of the event...)  Part of the issue was some major attitude with regards to GPS use, but it was the attitude and not the GPS that really got me down (not that I think navigating or orienteering type stuff has any part in ANY bike race) There are plenty of people signed up who are much faster than I am as well...  were 'they' going to mock them at the finish for trying, or what?  Anyways, it worked and I was planning on eating my $55 entry fee and to go elsewhere.  I can't see signing up next year.

Further, what's up with charging for this event?  I know it's worth the money vs the competing rides, it is an awesome event and far, far superior to something like the Lutsen 99er etc..  This is why I ponied up my money and was planning to go.  That said, I feel like going from free and "in the spirit of other free events", to charging undermines what I think is the most important aspect of those events.  It is doubly bad for an event that is associated with a primary sponsor of many such events to undermine this.  I know the entry fee is a donation.  That doesn't change the principle of things here at all for me.  Many of you who read this will think I am wrong. 

Regardless, it rained a whole bunch up there (and everywhere) and the race/ride/whatever was canceled.  I already had a ride and plans to head over to the Tour of America's Dairyland for a couple of crits anyways due to some of the above.  Hedge #2.

Tour of America's Dairyland's website showed 77 pre-registered riders in the 120 man 2/3 field.  When I got there 2 hours before my race Saturday I was told to sign onto a wait list.  As it turned out the field was full before the day even began.  Literally only 2 riders got in day of (due to no shows).  There were at least 30-40 other riders in the same situation as me.  I emailed the promoter/organizer and got no response yet.  This was shitty.  Mini hedge #2.5...  went for a road ride around Waukesha.  I knew Sunday was "out" too as there was no reason to expect any fewer people to show.

Did some thinking and searching and realized that the Mn mtb series race in Red Wing might be doable...  would require some effort and not enough sleep but it was doable withing the confines of the rest of weekend's schedule.  Hedge #3

See the problem...  We are back to hedge #1.  Out of frustration with all that crap up above I was now headed to a very humid/hot mountain bike race.  My system of hedges was pushed to the back burner in my excitement to race.  I won't even go into any more detail about how that race went other than to say that I really hope to not make that mistake again anytime soon.  I am embarassed.

So, hedge #4.  The best answer when it gets hot...  the packraft.

This was a trip from home to a a secret location not far from where my new house is (btw, I'm moving at the end of next month!) and back.  Here are some pictures, comments...

I've taken a lot of pictures right here, but today would be the first time I did more on the river than just look.  Super excited!

Muddy, muddy high water

Nothing to add to those

There was a lot of this and bigger, had to be active to keep from going into the rocks/trees on bends.  Plenty of excitement, water to the face more than once, raft half full of water kind of stuff.  Also, neat to see all the little streams feeding in.

Out at the bridge.

This was a short section, just about 5 miles.  I can't wait to explore more of the river.

This weekend I'm planning on WORS Eau Claire, but will be watching the weather a bit.  Not showing if it's over 90 temperature or humidity...


Fast Dreaded Double DNF

Delayed post because I have no clue how to write about my racing last weekend.  I raced the NVGP amateur crit 123 race and Camrock WORS elite.

First off!  I celebrated Father's day Saturday.  That part is easy, super fun to hang out with Riley all morning. Awesome all the things she is becoming able to do.  Here is a picture, been months since the last one...

Now for the crit...  I had good legs in the way that you have good legs sometimes and you just get to race without worrying about anything but having fun.  Was 'controlled' throughout despite racing with a very strong field.  When I decided to catch a small group off the front I was able to, when I wanted to move up in the group I was able to.  The last couple of laps were easier than expected and I maybe got a little lazy and found myself pushed back to about 12th with just the final time up the hill, a right turn and then a 150 yard sprint left to go.  Took the outside line up the hill and started passing people relatively easily.  The back of the very front group was taking a middle line through that final corner but I had more momentum than they did and drifted wide hoping to open up and fly past them.  The corner completed and I stood to sprint in an 'outside' lane but with still 3-4' of room between me and the barrier.  At this point I was within 10-15 yards of the front and definitely in the top 10 and with momentum.  Out of nowhere there was a rider coming toward me traveling at least 10-12 mph slower than the rest of us and cutting to the left.  I don't remember well what happened next but I know that I was forced left and into a two wheel, brakes locked, slide until I hit the metal fence/barrier.  I am ok.  My bike is OK.  One other rider hit me and went down harder than I did.  My helmet was broken, I thought my hand probably was.  I had to lay on the ground for a while and do the body part checklist thing.

They had announced prior to the race that they would not be pulling riders...  That lapped riders should move left.  I do not know for sure that this was a lapped rider.  I do not know for sure that this wasn't in some way my own fault.  I do know that I should have had a clean line to sprint.  I did speak to an official but what was that really going to do?  More importantly, what kind of person makes a stink over the amateur race while the pros are on their way to finish on the same roads.

Whatever happened there it was too late and after a couple of choice words to no one in particular I went to medical and left to pre-ride Camrock.

On the way down to Camrock I was worried about shifting my front grip shifter with my damaged hand.  I should have been worried about braking.  I was going to preride no matter what.  I'm getting better skills wise, but knowing what's coming next is pretty helpful yet to me while mountain biking (Thanks Charly Tri btw for the riding tips, seriously).  I also figured riding was going to be the only way to figure out how my body would feel the next day.

It was 25 minutes after sunset when I finished my preride lap...  sort of epic riding in the pitch black singletrack with no lights.

Wasn't as sore as I'd feared in the morning.  Found a new helmet at the Trek store, found some ice tea, got to camrock.

Was late to the start chute and don't have a series number or a call-up so it was back of the pack for me.

Making my way to where I belonged...

Went into singletrack in top 20 but behind a couple dudes who were too slow.  Worked my way forward as I could, particularly the one gravel segment.  Near the beginning of lap 2 someone called out 18th place.  I had forgotten about my body hurting.  Caught and dropped 2 riders, passed by 1, another had a mechanical.  I could see a fairly large group not that far ahead with some kits/riders I recognized.  Things were grooving pretty good.  I love the mixture of technical stuff with fast/power sections like this course.

At about the halfway mark of the race my chain snapped and that was that.  Double DNF weekend.


Omnium: Stump Farm WEMS, Wolf River Packrafting, Diablo Criterium and more

Lucky to get out of work a little early Friday night!  Still no way to drive, sleep, eat etc. and get to Suamico in time to race more than the 30 mile race.


And a really nice trailhead parking lot that I didn't take a picture of.

I barely got my clothes on and had to line up for a le mans start...

I probably shouldn't have leaked those government documents...  but never thought they'd be so obvious with the drones.

Luckily they couldn't keep up in the singletrack.

Actually, the the singletrack wasn't my strong suit here.  I had never ridden it.  I could get some gaps but I'd always sort of lose my ground again as soon as I start enjoying myself at all and not taking huge risks.  After a few miles it was clear that the field was strong!  2 or 3 other riders in particular were going to be very tough to get rid of!  I tried a few attacks on lap 2 and always was reeled back in.  By the final lap it was down to just 3...  Dan Teaters, Kurt Schweisow and myself, we had each tried hard to drop the others with no success.  The pace even went down to  conversational for the first half of the lap.  Then it picked up as each of the other riders tried moves.  I could see they were tiring a bit and decided I liked my chances on the final 1/2 mile section of gravel.  As we hit that final gravel/doubletrack no one wanted to take the lead and it almost seemed like we would track stand... I had to open up the sprint from the front and from about 60 seconds from the finish line but created a sufficient gap to cross the line first despite totally hitting the wall the last couple hundred yards.  

BOTH hands up for Ted...  no podium here, but went for the full on podium form.

Scrambled back to Wausau area and hit up the 9 mile forest-  which makes 3 weekends in a row for me at 9 mile.  Definitely have ridden 9 mile more than Eastwood recently.

Kim at 9 mile.

Sunday am was packrafting bright and early!  Off to the Wolf River.

Too big for us...

still too big?

Found a section that looked right and headed up the road on rollerblades (no bashing bikes into boulders!)

Eventually the road turned to converted railroad that was converted to fatbike only sized gravel.

Then even that ended but no river?  We bushwacked a while with the sound of rapids leading the way. Here are some more river pictures.

Dophin trainer style kim at the Subway...  grabbing food on the go with no time to get to the crit in Menasha.

My legs were shot.  As much as anything I think from the lack of sleep and just plain running around.  I warmed up though and they felt a lot better.  Was thinking I might be able to have a good race.  Long story short...  I attacked at the beginning of a prime lap and got clear, clear enough that I felt like I had to make it stick.  Take your opportunities when you get them right?  I still can hardly believe I did win a prime with that field, but certainly mostly chalk it up to being opportunistic.  After the prime I was shot but hung in for a while.  The field was super, super strong and eventually I was out (along with roughly half the field?).  I'd love to make it to more of the Wisconsin crits in the future though-  great atmosphere and even faster riders?  than I've seen much of this year.  I know I can at least hang around long enough to try something late if I come with fresher legs.

Today I got in some rest and relaxation.  Hoping to feel good enough for the Eastwood Tuesday night race tomorrow.


Mt. Borah Epic and WORS Red Eye Rendezvous... an almost epic weekend

First off, let me be clear...  this was the least mileage I've ridden on a weekend since I can easily remember.  Likely since Triple D?  Sort of ironic since something called the 'epic' was the shorter of my two events.  That said, I 'get it' since it was on trails that IMBA has declared 'epic'.  Then again, it was only on parts of two of them and most of one of them and Rock Lake is really what to me deserves to be called epic.  Plus, we only rode one way and had to sit on a school bus to go back to our cars.  Which was sort of extra grueling due to the stench, but not exactly 'epic'.  I probably should have manned up and just ridden back to Cable on my own but was too cold and hadn't planned for it plus was worried about the legs for racing the next day (like a baby).  Now that I've cleared that up...

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...