This last Sunday was the WORS Smokin' Spoke race up in Rhinelander, WI and it was a good one. I haven't suffered that long on a mountain bike since my early pro days when I would finish a norba 45 minutes down on Roland Green, putting me in near the 3 hour mark at the finish. Well, this wasn't a norba but the pain was almost the same.
Marathon style WORS racing was the real deal this week and my finish time of 2:48 comes close to the longest mtb race ever for me time wise, mileage was in around 40, but they were a hard earned 40 on some of the bumpiest trails I've ever ridden. I was able to preride Saturday and I new after a lap what to prepare for the next day, I think that helped mentally cause I new it would be very physical with all the huge bumps that required upper body effort to roll over each one and all the singletrack required full effort to get through. It wasn't bad single track for the most part, just very tough to roll through along with constant short steep climbs and tons and tons of citizen/sport riders to wade through as we progressed through the race. Single track skills became track standing skills, patience at heart rate 180 is tough to come by, but everyone I encountered was great and while it's extremely hard to race like that I think everyone tries to make the most of it and does the best they can. Huge amounts of traffic at all skill levels is not ideal race situations for anyone though.
My race went well and while I lacked the punch at the beginning to stay up front before the real trails began I had worked my way into near 5th by mid race and kept the pace as high as I could without digging too deep each lap. I had a large train of some of WORS younger upandcoming riders in tow for quite awhile who were riding well, but eventually I rode away near the end and came in solo for 5th and quite happy with how I rode. I'm not at a level quite yet to be able to compete at the front, but those guys are really fit and fast now and I am still on the way to good form so I have to be patient and take what I can get. This week shows I can handle a 3 hour race at threshold so the endurance is there if I stay steady, with a few more races in the high end should start coming around soon.
With no races this coming weekend it should be a good time to get in some really good rides again and a good training block. It's great to be back training and racing well!