Midwest MTB Racing Recapby Jay Richards
October 17, 2012
Despite cooler than normal temps and even snow falling in recent weeks, the mountain bike season continues on even though the racing has tapered off with most cyclists focused on cross. WORS wrapped up their series last weekend with the Wigwam Challenge in Sheboygan. Riders were treated to awesome conditions...MUD!!! Tyler Gauthier sent in a report from his top 10 finish. The season is nearly complete but a few events will close things out and collegiate Nationals also taking place this weekend with a handful of riders from the Midwest representing.
Tyler Gauthier reports from the "mud bowl":
What would a 12 race mountain bike series be without an annual mud race? A 12 race mountain bike series! The WORS series seems to have an epic mud race every year and this year did not disappoint. Ironically, we had one of our driest riding seasons we have had in a few years but raced in the rain more this year than prior. 4 of the 12 races were raced in the rain this year, Iola, Rhinelander, Suamico, and the most recent Sheboygan. As any champion would it saved its best for last and WORS did that with WORS #12.
The weather watching started early in the week after rumors of cold and rain emerged on the iPhone, iPad, and even the iMac, each device spreading the same rumor. In the 4 hour drive down south on Saturday it never stopped raining, rumors confirmed. The next morning we woke up to sideways rain and a 30 minute rain delay which would do nothing but allow the course to be stirred and mixed with each drop of precipitation.
We sprinted out on pavement for 100 yards shooting into grass and that is where the challenge started. The first blade grass sucked your wheel in as if we were fighting dropping into a black hole. We were around the first few corners and the bike, kits, and bodies were covered in mud. Sliding down the first single track I was in 5th position and the literally slid into 4th when Nathan G. was forced into a line that threw him and his bike overboard. It didn’t take each of us long to realize that bike handling would be overshined by any fitness a rider displayed. Each section had its own and new type of challenge. Off camber mud slides, uphill tire slips, buried roots, flooded trail, brakeless log jumps, and river crossings that were quickly turning into lakes. I will allow the enclosed pictures to tell the story rather than making up descriptive words that don’t do the conditions justice.
With each mile of trail the more skilled riders took ownership and rode a race of their own. There wasn’t much more you could do than just race what you could manage. Cole H. was immediately up the trail alone and Marko L. was close behind. The way they were displaying riding skill they were sure to stay away the rest of the race. Darrin B. and I were behind. Not so much in chase but riding what could be managed. Darrin would put small gaps on me in the more technical sections but I allowed my patience to stay intact on the first lap and would bridge them back. Starting the 2nd lap I allowed my race management and my patience to disappear. I attempted to put a move in on a drier part of the trail and pushed my pace. My chosen pace put me outside of my technical limit and soon thereafter I was sliding, slipping, and falling. I slid into a tree and caught my hand the wrong way causing an instant throb. From that moment I lost patience, confidence, and enjoyment. All huge “no noes” in XC racing. I knew better but with each wheel rotation the course got worse and I was exposed each time. By the end lap 2 Darrin had put a gap on that put him out of reach. I was joined by Nathan as he made his way up from his 1st lap fall. He too put a gap on me that put him out of reach. With ½ lap remaining I had another racer ride up and it was Mike P. We switched spots a few times but he took control in the last ¼ mile as I allowed my mind to beat me ruthlessly.
I came in 6th place after riding in 3rd and 4th for most of it. It was disappointing to drop a few spots but after having time to reflect I’m the only one to blame. Not my fitness, not my skill, but me. At first I wanted to blame the weather as anyone could blame the weather and conditions for a poor ride but I was exposed just as every other rider was. I allowed my biggest competitor beat me, my mind.
The beautiful thing about WORS racing, even in the midst of a Midwest monsoon, is the people involved. As I allowed my mind to beat me Darrin was yelling encouragement to me the whole time. My competitor, the one I was racing against to claim a 3rd overall series spot with was yelling for me to keep going, to keep with it, to stay focused. I am grateful for what we have even if I’m still cleaning mud from out of my ears.
Photos from Extreme Photography Unlimited
Race report on MTB Race News
For audio reports from the Wigwam, Ben Welnak sent in the latest link to hear reports from Nathan Guerra and Todd Nutter.
With series racing finished for the year, not much left on the calendar in the Midwest. State champs for Minnesota high school are in two weeks and the Iceman Cometh in Traverse City, MI popular among many Midwest cyclists, caps off the mountain bike season before things get crazy with the fat bike. Collegiate Nationals take place this week with riders from Ripon College, University of Wisconsin representing the Midwest (including Casey Hildenbrandt who will provide a full report in next weeks report) and also Midwest born riders Tyler Kjorstad and Nathan Labecki
Keep the wheels moving!
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About the author...
Jay Richards maintains a very active lifestyle. He somehow finds time between managing a full-time resort (Maplelag) and bringing up a family of four boys with his wife Jonell, to compete in both mountain bike and a few cross-country ski races. Jay rides for Maplelag Resort, manages the Maplelag/Paramount mountain bike team and enters his 22nd year of racing and promoting mountain bike races.