WORS Iola report (finally)

Once again, the 1st WORS race of the year has come and gone.  I saw lots of chatter about how people were just there to have fun, see old friends, not necessarily to race.  Huh?  I think that’s an easy way to say “…if I don’t do well, I can just say I was having fun…”

I saw a lot of people racing, and a lot of people having “fun”, but I didn’t notice anyone stopping to take pictures during the race or check their email.  Despite the frigid temps, the racing was hot.  Iola is a favorite course among a majority of the WORS racers, myself included.  It has a little of everything and it’s the inaugural WORS race, so everyone comes to the line extremely amped up.

This year was no exception – when Don yelled go, we blasted up the fire road on the backside of the ski hill jockeying for position.  I immediately felt the fact that my warm-up (if you could call it that) in the cold temps did little to warm me up.  I also immediately felt the failure of my activities the entire off-season.  Last year, I hit the gym quite a bit and continued to do some cold weather riding too.  This year I just rode, 2-3 times a week, throughout the winter – avoiding the gym almost completely.  That plan worked out pretty well in the 2 early season road races I’ve done so far, but it backfired horribly once I hit the hills of Iola on my single speed.  I have zero upper body/core strength compared to last year – those hills sucked the life out of me in a hurry.  I’ve become a much better climber over the years, many times making key moves on the steepest hills, but that was not the case in Iola.  It took everything I had to make it up the steepest hill on the last lap.

Overall, I felt good and I felt like I left it all out there, despite having a much slower time than last year.  I placed a distant 3rd (last year’s finish had me 2 seconds out of 1st).  On the first lap I wanted to die and stop pedaling, by midway through the second lap I had found the groove and I used the last lap to wring out any energy I had left in me.

Unfortunately, as soon as I crossed the line my stomach started to cramp up – which turned out to be some kind of bug that kicked my ass for the next 48 hours.

Due to scheduling conflicts, my next WORS race won’t likely be until the end of July.  I’m hoping to make a few changes and add some horsepower before then.

2011 ~ Race # 1 is in the books

My idea of racing the Barry Roubaix for the first time this year seemed to fizzle out when my potential racing partners ended up with alternate plans.  So, against my better judgement I made a last minute decision to drive down to Illinois for the Super Spring Criterium.

Weather was fantastic… for ice fishing.  24 degrees with occasional flurries and high winds.  Despite the winter freeze, the field for the Masters 4/5 was about 75 strong.  Since it’s actually a car racetrack, the course has about 3 inches of elevation change over a 2 mile loop, and the pavement is as smooth and crack-free as Whitney Houston in the 80’s.

Dennis, bc and I all lined up together and then we were off.  Took a nice easy pace as everyone scoped out each other’s winter fitness or lack thereof.  I’ve been riding outside with bc and the Spokesmen all winter, so the temps were no problem and I settled right in with the early pace.  I have always been a mountain biker, and last year was the first time I ever spent so much time on a road bike.  I’ve always been a cycling fan, and I understand the dynamics of road racing, but my actual racing experience is pretty much limited to drinking PBRs and cheering at the Great Downer race every year. (mmmmm… PBR…)

Everyone stayed fairly cordial until the bell lap, and then you could just sense the nervous energy ramp up to 11.  I stayed close enough to the front to monitor any breaks, but (stupidly) not really close enough to be in them if they did happen.  The pace ramped up throughout the lap but I could tell that no one was really going for it.  Now, hindsight being 20/20 and all, this is where I was supposed to jump, but I just sat there waiting for SOMEONE to go.

Rounding the last corner everyone got on the gas and I heard someone go down HARD right behind me  (medical had to pick him up).  As we headed up to the finish I found a nice open space on the left side of the course and started hammering.  I was making up spaces quicker than I thought I would, and then I heard someone else go down to my right.  That guy knocked someone into me, and I was forced to ride into the grass to stay upright.   By the time I got back onto the pavement, my sprint speed was more like dial-up.

So I rolled across the line in 13th, further testament to what could have been.  I’ve only done 4 road races, but each race I do I get a little more experience and each race I end up wishing I would have just aired it out.

One of these times I’ll just pretend it’s a WORS race and FINISH IT…


Never say “…one last time”

“As they speed thru the finish the flags go down.
The fans get up, and get out of town.
The arena is empty except for one man,
Still driving and striving as fast as he can”

CAKE – “Going the Distance”

I guess I’ll never learn – I told myself this would probably be the last Kettles ride of the year.  I also went for a muddy ride by myself with no tools.  That was about the stupidest thing I’ve done since I started at the back of the pack in my first Crit (Superweek), thinking I would work my way up to the front.  FAIL.

For those of us who don’t hunt (anymore), this was the perfect day for a ride.  45 and misty, the Kettles were a virtual ghost town this morning.  Everyone was either hunting, racing Cross or has already set up their trainers in the basement.  Too bad for you, the conditions were awesome. I jumped out of my truck and felt fast – WORS fast.  Slapped on a bright yellow helmet and even clipped on a little trail bell to let all the hung over hunters know that my brown bike with the white seat was NOT a deer.  I shot out of the parking lot and flew to the first wooden bridge, where I immediately slid sideways and ate mud.  Time to take it down about 4 notches.  The roll-in and all of the piney woods with gravel and sandy soil were super fast.  The light rain stuck everything together and it felt like riding on rails.  The rest of the trails (MOST of the trails) was like riding on Vaseline covered marble.  It’s been a dry Fall and the hard-pack trails roll super fast when it’s dry, but that little bit of rain just created a sheet of slime on the cement-like surface.  I think I was going faster up the hills than down on my first Blue Loop.

A quick stop in the parking lot to shed a few layers, still not a sole in sight aside from 3 runners, and it was back on the trails.  By now the ground had soaked up a lot of the moisture and the trails were rolling pretty fast again.  Just shy of 4 miles in, I blew the chain apart.  Tools?  You bet, back in my truck in the parking lot!  Time for the walk of shame.  Still an awesome way to spend my morning.  Made it back to the parking lot around 9:45, just as a few crews of weekend warriors on their reflectorized full-suspension rigs were about to roll in.

In just 24 hours I’ll be rollin’ down the road in Tampa, I’m guessing that when I get back in December the skinny skis will have taken over the Kettles.  So long John and Emma – see you in Spring!