Cable Area Off Road Classic
I love this race. Partly because I love the area. Partly because I have a cabin there. Partly because I make it a weekend for men to get together and talk about their feelings. This year we would see Bob Marhefke show for the first time, Chris Fisher, Brendan Moore, and Jason Wenk were returners from previous years.
I would go into this race knowing that my fitness is not quite were it was last year at this time, but with a little glimmer of hope after a fun Buck Hill race 2 days before.
The start is about 7 miles from the cabin. It was a balmy 39 degrees as we rode though huge wind gusts on the rain soaked roads. Hmmm, sounds like yummy mountain biking. I put in some surges that are always painful on the lungs, but seem to really help my breathing on the starts.
The start went well, and I was happy that that either I felt better than normal, or the pace was lower. Needless to say I was not as oxygen deprived as normal a mile into the course. I hit the singletrack in around 6th place or so and we all stuck together well through some of the finest singletrack in the midwest. The pace was not terrible, so I took the opportunity to back off on the small climbs and catch right back up on the flat part of the trail. These are the little games I like to play so that I don't pop my lungs early in.
Soon after we were back out on Rock Lake road and then into the ATV trail next to Camp Four Lake (which I hear has great winter camping). When we hit the trail I saw CJ Faulkner in front of me looking down at his drive train and not at the log partially blocking the trail feet in front of him. As he hit I swung right hoping to avoid a collusion, but bike and body bounced right as well. Let's say that the ensuing collision will make becoming someone's "girl" in prison a little easier if he ever ends up there. Trying to get going I had to dislodge CJ's seat from my rear wheel as well. The combination of the stop and adrenalin rush had me holding back to keep the breathing in check. Back on Rock Lake road Arron Swanson(his recap here) would pass me giving chase to the lead 6 or so riders.. My plan was to chase together in a group, but his surge was too much for me at the time. I ended up chasing behind with a few riders mainly in tow.
Eventually Aaron would drop back and join our little group. We would splash in the puddles and my feet would go numb from the water and cold. As we raced the through the course we would shuffle some in placings. A nice hard left into the Ojibwe trail was not well marked and I blew by the 2-3 riders I was with (I never heard Aaron's warning as he had prerode the course). This corner was a common missed turn for people in the race, FYI. Hitting the singletrack my body started firing on all cylinders again and the lungs were all good. Aaron's pace was a little slower than what I had hoped and when it did open up I made a pass. What had grown to 5 or 6 riders in our group broke up into Aaron and I as the pace went up.
The last several miles are open and Nathan Lillie would soon join us. Nathan would gap us in a short stretch of trail that literally saw the ground heave under our tires. Giving chase Aaron and I would not bring Nathan back. As we approached the finish I was thinking racing tactics. Aaron would pull up beside me. I didn't understand what he said, but I understood that he was up for a mano y mano sprint. That was cool, no games, just racing. I ended up winning our battle for 7th.
(After seeing the fear in Aaron's eyes I would give him a little lesson in what it takes to sprint for 7th place at 40 degrees while soaked. I would go on to open a bottle of champagne in celebration, as we all know the everyone is gunning not for first, but 7th. Picture viciously stolen from Jay Richards and Skinnyski.com)
Brendan would take the win once again. The next day Rock Lake and Namakagon got a good rogering. Every year I ride there for the first time I find tons more new singletrack. This trip would be no exception as the Namekagon now ends with miles of super fun trail.
Thanks for reading, see you tomorrow.