race report: WORS #2 Rhinelander Crystal Lake Classic

I had so much going on last week that I hardly had a chance to think about the WORS race until I was on my way.  Dave opted for the Larue-Denzer-Larue road race on Saturday as he still hasn’t been off-road since his crash.  I was able to ride the course with him in the rain on Thursday and wow, what a beautiful course!  My heart is set on the trails, but I am certainly intrigued by road racing and hope to gain more experience in that discipline too.

I was lucky enough to carpool with Jen, my friend and former teammate.  Her husband was doing the road race and crit also, so it worked out pretty well!  I forgot how fun the Rhinelander course is..11 mile loops with endless punchy climbs, fun descents and technical continuous singletrack pretty much the entire time.  It is very well suited to my strengths and I had some high hopes for the weekend.

Aside from having a restless night in the tent, I think everything went as well as it could have leading up to the race..I ate and drank exactly what I needed to at the right times and had one of the best warm-ups ever.  Once we were off, I began what appears to be a habit of leading out the race on the long lead-out.  I am gaining confidence and admit I like starting fast and being at the front.  I find a decently hard, but comfortable pace and the selection is usually made fairly quickly…plus I don’t have to brake much at corners and get the best lines.

I had a lot of confidence going into the singletrack and settled into a paceline with Robin, Abby and Lisa.  The pressure was on and everything was going well until I lost one of my contacts and panicked.  My vision isn’t terrible, but bad enough that my depth perception was off.  Totally wrong course for that to happen!  I took the wrong line up a rocky ascent and crashed really hard (yes, going UP hill..oh well).  Lisa got by and I tried to regain my composure.  I hadn’t lost a lot of time, but my heart rate skyrocketed as I chased.  I did not feel like myself and ate it again in a loose corner.  Two more riders got by and again, I settled in for another chase.

Once I was alone, I calmed down, and started riding well again.  I came around by the end of the lap and felt as good as I could have on such a demanding course, with half vision and a throbbing leg (I had opened up everything that had just healed from my broken shoe incident in NC).  On the second lap I had a close call with a merging rider coming behind me, but did not make any technical mistakes for the rest of the race and pulled off fifth place.  The Schwalbe Racing Ralph is my all-time favorite mountain bike tire and proved to be perfect for this course.  On a course suited for full suspensions, my carbon hardtail was just awesome.  My back didn’t bother me at all during the race and I am still so impressed how it handles the bumpy descents.  It’s easy to understand why the Six LTD is chosen for World Cup racing!

I have to admit that I’m disappointed with my race because I know I am capable of better things, but that is bike racing.  I got in my head a bit and that was simply enough.  Everyone is riding super well this season–it appears to be the most competitive one yet–and I am excited to see what will happen in the series this year!  Jen did really well for her first mountain bike race in three years and I know she is going to have an outstanding season.  My teammate Tristan is on a roll and won a sprint for second place behind Barry Wicks…AFTER a fantastic finish in the 1/2 road race on Saturday!  He is already having an incredible year.

Thank you to Felt for such a wonderful bike, Mafia Racing for the support, PBR and the WORS ladies for keeping it fun and competitive.  It will be a while before my next WORS race, but I am looking forward to my first national pro race coming up soon!

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