"Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, either way you're right"
The first race of the 2010 WEMS Series begins in the Northern Kettles outside of Fond Du Lac and not in Green Bay as the schedule may dictate. Due to the "weather" (or lack there of) the Stump Farm 12 was rescheduled and changed to a different date and format in which I am still planning on attending and still intending to bring the pain to the best of my ability.
The 12 Hours of Northern Kettles had a challenging wet course that only got better as the hours passed by and we were warned that it would be slick but that was not at all to be a joke. We had a different start format this year running up a pretty steep gravel hill to get to our bikes. My goal was to get to my bike at a comfortable but uptempo pace and hold my own from there. You see, I normally have issues during the first couple of races during the season with trying to complete all of my laps without taking a break. Typically I would take one here an there for around 10 to 15 minutes to take inventory on my body and my gear to make sure all was okay. At this point I didn't have a clue what to expect as my lap times were by feel since my garmin had no juice out of the fact that I never charged it and I also ran out of Infinit Nutrition while mixing my bottles. As far as I knew, I would be in survival mode from the time Mr. Nigh yelled GO!
I settled in right behind Cale and let a couple of rabbits go ahead knowing full well that I was in it to retain a fast yet obtainable pace. Now I didn't have any support and neither did Tim so I really didn't care to check on my progress until the last few laps, but more on that later so really my focus was on being consistent and not overdoing it. The first lap felt slow and was. Same can be said for laps two and three. Lap four I felt a crap-ton better despite the fact that I crashed late in the lap on an off-camber downhill.
I stopped only a few times to get new bottles filled full of Infinit and to apply chamois butter and the occasional Baer back & body pills to help me out with the bumpy course. I knew that this course was going to eat me up due to the fact that every time I had to apply more chamois butter the pain almost made me vomit. Granted I know this isn't something you all need to hear, but it is one of those things that you may never know you may have to deal with during a race like this as if it were some sort of a law where you need to expect the unexpected. So I continue on towards the halfway point and now I know this is the best I've done this early on in the season. Usually, I sit down for awhile as previously mentioned, but this time I haven't considered doing any sort of rest other than restocking on fluids. I was quite happy with my progress and still to this point I didn't have a clue whether I was in last place or in first place as I have been riding by myself not getting passed by any solos at any point since this morning.
So somewhere around the nine to ten hour range I finally decide to check and in an effort to not slow me down I picked a lap I needed more liquids and rode past the timing area straight to the cabin and noticed I was in second. I can't lie here, I was a little shocked all I did was rode how I felt and didn't rest as that was my only choice since I did not have a clock, gps, odometer and so on.
My focus then shifted toward attack mode to keep the distance more if not the same to third place and see what I can do to reel in Eki. Well now that I've seen the stats I know I couldn't have caught him at the pace I was riding, but I wasn't too far off and with it being this early in the year I would have some hard workouts to get me to that level or better later on so I needed to maintain and really without thinking into it, that's what I ended up doing anyway. So I came around for lap 14 and looked at the clock for a little bit running some simple grade school math (which after ten hours can be challenging) and with some praise from the crowd I embarked on my 15th lap and hammered home what I felt and thought would be a hot lap. I was pretty gassed at that point and hoped I had something left other than this annoying cough that recently developed.
I came in at 7:44 with roughly 16 minutes to spare 15 laps and around 100 miles with Tim (former teammate and fellow Salsa rider) coming in 8 minutes later wrapping up his 16th lap. I gotta say he is always a great competitor and I enjoy racing against him. Wish him all the best at the Dirty Kanza.
Next up is the WORS Trek Big Ring Classic here in Wausau. The Rhinelander race was a strategic disaster and will hope to bring a better performance to my home course. I know my strengths and weaknesses and hopefully my body will forget about the weaknesses I have for about 2 hours next Sunday.