As any of us have experienced; work trumps life, in fact, I try to operate in the exact opposite hierarchy- but it happens. So far this year, training has taken a big hit and it shows up on the weekend races. My goal this year was to try to crack the top 3 in the Sport Tailwind series (last year I finished 3rd, but this year, the race organizers pulled out my strongest race-the stage race) and I now currently sit in 6th after finishing the last race that I can make for the series.
Race season is far from over, but I want to catch up with a few notable races. In mid June, I competed in the Lumber Jack 100. Or rather, I showed up hoping that I could mentally overcome a huge lack of training (the volume in anticipation for the LJ100 is huge—at least it should have been for me). Eric Cook and Charles Elder joined me and a buddy of mine (Kayo R.) at my dad’s cabin to prepare for the 100 mile race. Without belaboring the details, my legs cramped so badly that after 50 miles, I knew my day was over. I stopped at the remote aid station, hoping to find a short cut back to the start, and they told me that the fastest route was to follow the course. I completed about 60 miles of the LJ100 and felt that I wasted my entry fee.
Early August, I returned to the Big-M to exercise some demons only to find that the demons were laughing at me all three laps of the Tailwind 18 mile race. I finished DFL in 7th place for my category. (Prior to this I finished 3 races in a row one out of the medals-a completely discouraging reality check.) I had signed up for the Ore2Shore the following weekend, so I stayed in the cabin to work out, stretch, eat well and focus on Life and cycling (I had recently been honored with a promotion to Director at the U in our Tech Transfer office).
The next weekend, August 10, was the Ore to Shore Mountain Bike race. The Ore2Shore was in the beautiful back drop of the Upper Peninsula’s Marquette with a crystal blue sky and crisp morning. I love being in the UP and the 9:45 start helped keep it from being too miserable of a morning start. The start was a bit of a wonky roll-out on pavement with a lot of eager riders trying to get to the front of the race. I did not witness any crashes, but I saw some really stupid moves. Some challenging short hills at the beginning of the race helped line us up into 2 threads of bikes and riders heading up the Negaunee country side. I was feeling okay, but felt like I was losing places even though it was still early. We then came to a train (yes a train) that was across the race course. The race piled up as if we were salmon at a dam until the leaders saw that we were only yards away from the front of the train, so we rode quickly to get in front of the train before it started to move again (which it did right after we crossed). We were bunched up and walking for quite a while until we got into the really steep climbs (one hill called misery hill) which was impossible to ride up due to everyone walking their bikes in the middle of the hill. In these hills (about 10 miles into the race) there were some short steep down hills with some huge rock outcroppings. My font wheel found a crevasse in one of these down hill rocks and I end-o’d and hit harder than I have ever hit before—so hard that my vision began to narrow because of the pain on my left side. (I knew that the best thing for me to do was to just ride and hope that the adrenaline would mask the pain until we were done.) This worked until a guy stopped in front of me in a huge sand pit 5 miles from the end, I slowly fell to my left side in the soft sand but the pain all returned as a reminder of my age and lack of training. With a few miles to go, the effervescent Angela Bowers came flying by and made me forget about the pain and think about how lucky I was to be doing this. I pushed this race as much as I could possibly push, hammering all the way through the last 2 miles of winding pavement to the finish line. I finished in 3:30, which was 36th of 63 Men age 50 to 54…not bad, but then the season has been a series of races against myself anyway.
Jack Miner, WSI Team Active Fan and part time racer!