Saturday WORS King of the Mountain Challenge
On Saturday I raced a new event at WORS sponsored by KMC chains called the King of the Mountain Challenge (KMC). There were only 32 participants so even though I was the only one on a single speed (no ss category) and the only masters division was 40+ I finished in third. It really hurt and I very nearly finished second closing many yards on the final climb but falling less than a bike length short. It was fun and I'm happy I did it. I'm also happy I used Flo my single speed with drop handlebars. She elicited lots of comments from spectators and participants during warm up.
The trails were very muddy because it had been raining pretty much straight for the 24 hours prior. The rain stopped almost two hours before the 5:30 start so even though the course was slick, the puddles were few. The course was surprising for what was billed as a hill climb event. It contained an almost equal amount of flat and downhill distance. This put the single speed at more of a disadvantage than expected because I could spin the climbing gear I chose only so fast on the flat. Even though it seemed I was left behind spinning away by most of the group, I keep going as hard as good until the end. But wow did that hurt. I kept saying that to anyone who would listen -- man, that hurt but I'd do it again.
Sunday WORS Sport (cat 2) 55-59
On Sunday I wasn't feeling it. As I was sitting in the Angry Monkey Racing tent talking to Laura, I was talking myself into holding back today. I was waiting to start my fourth race in eight days so my edge was feeling rather blunt. When Brett, Nick and Brandon's race started it was time for me to warm-up which felt equally lackluster.
Knowing there would be call-ups and I would not be among them, I arrived early to the line so that I'm only a row or two back at the start. This was perhaps the best decision of the day because at the gun I found myself on the wheel of Glen Jones who often dominates the CX races I contest. On the first time up the hill in this 14 mile race Bob Benedum gapped us all. Knowing Glen, I patiently waited on his wheel. I raced with my head for a change and resisted the temptation to lead the chace. Jones pulled three or more of us away from the field in a steady attempt to catch Bob and when he was caught, the pace slowed. Bob was no longer gunning it and we all seemed to relax and pass slower riders as best we could. Things opened up when we hit the bike path which is where Glen turned is huge motor to full-gass and put some distance between me and Bob Benedum. I stuck with Bob for half a lap expecting Glen was gone for good. It was in some ways very relaxing. I knew Glen had recently graduated to the 60+ category so I've got no reason to chase. I'm not sure how many or who exactly the riders are who have been riding my wheel all race but I heard the slap of chains and the occasional gasp coming from behind.
Bob started to loose steam so I went by and he seemed somewhat relieved. I picked up the pace and it got a little quieter behind but there was at least one rider close behind. It was Dave McCullum who often bests me in cross. When we hit some tight stuff and could breath normally he kindly announces himself and we chat a bit. Now I'm thinking only of the uphill finish and being careful to save something for that climb. The final two climbs would be the decider and besides if Dave wants to use energy to pass me just before the climb, that won't hurt. Dave decides to stay put so when we hit the hill I accelerated up the right past a bunch of riders. Surprisingly there's Glen Jones just ahead. I pause on his wheel for two seconds and I hear Dave say, "get going Joe." I'm thinking 3-up sprint for the line and there's no better wheel on the course today than Jonezies. He's either gassed or thinking we were gone for good so I take the pass to find even heavier traffic near the top of the first finishing climb. Jones passes back and puts two riders between us just as we enter the short downhill before the last climb. Out we pop onto the grass of the last climb to the finish with Jones three bike lengths ahead and Dave on my wheel. I have what feels like the finishing gear and go! I'm on Jones' wheel before the top and start to pass but he's got something more. Dave pulls even and just ahead of me -- we bump shoulders but I'm giving no ground. I felt this gear I'm in has more to give so just when Dave shifts I dig that much deeper and push ahead at the line by an inch! Dave and I finish a half bike behind Glen Jones who wins the 60+ category today. I'm first and Dave McCullum is second in the 55-59 age group. That was it, just over an hour of racing and our 55-59 category is decided by an inch. Overall my finish was 36th out of 234. They start us old guys near the back so we passed a lot of riders and it all went surprisingly well.
It was a super fun hanging out with the Angry Monkeys and seeing the racers I know from cross. This is only my third WORS sport race and my first win. I'm very happy to say, I have age-group wins in cross, time trial, triathlon and now mountain biking. I guess it's time to take up BMX.