Mountain bikes, good friends, and camping, oh my! This past weekend was the series opener for the Wisconsin Off Road Series, or WORS, in Iola, WI. It was my first time doing this particular WORS race so I wasn’t sure what to expect of the course. It turned out that it was not very technical at all. Some racers were disappointed in the lack of technical features, stating that it felt almost more like a cyclocross course (and the cold weather didn’t help!). Although I have grown to like and enjoy more technical trails, I still perform better on less technical courses.
Overall, I have been feeling pretty good on road and trail rides lately. The only WORS race I did last year didn’t go so well AND I have a lot more mountain biking under my belt now compared to last Spring, so I had high hopes of placing well in the Sport category.
I was nervous before the race. More so than I have been for a race in a while. I’m no amateur to racing so that surprised me a bit as I was preparing to race Sunday morning. But I always say to my clients at the gym and friends who are new to racing that it’s good to be nervous because that means you care about how you do. If you’re not at least a little nervous, then you probably don’t care enough about the race to be doing it. I have struggled with my mental game in races as recent as last cyclocross season, so looking back, I’m glad I was so nervous!
After waiting for what seemed like forever for staging to begin, then for all the other waves to go (women are the last wave), I had a poor start even though I got into the front row. There is a lot of climbing in the first part of the course, and I seemed to have forgotten my climbing legs at home. I was able to pass a few girls after the initial climb, but the lead girls already had a huge gap. I did my best to stay on the gas and be fast and smooth through the single track. It took me most of a lap to recover from all the climbing at the start though and really feel “fast”, then it was time to climb again. I finished 6th in my age group and 7th overall. It was a fun, fast, and flowy course though (besides all the climbing!) and I will definitely do that race again.
Besides my own race, I had a couple highlights that made the weekend a great experience and fun time. My friend’s/teammate’s 8-year-old nephew did his first race. I got to take him on a lap of the course on Saturday after my own pre-ride and it was so awesome to see how much fun he had in both the pre-ride and in the race itself. At one point in the pre-ride he asked, “so this is mountain biking?” Priceless.
Second, camping. Yes, it was cold all weekend- there were even a few snowflakes on Saturday, but I’m lucky to have friends that have camping down to a science- and propane heaters 😉 Waking up on site on race day is always a perk. And there’s just something about camp coffee…
After being a “roadie” for so many years and lacking technical skills, I have been feeling confident in that area more and more lately. There were a couple times in the race where I caught up to a clump of racers from earlier start waves in relatively technical sections. They were struggling to get through smoothly, either lacking skills or feeling the pressure of having so many other races surrounding them, and I saw many get off their bikes. I was able to change my line quickly or take the less-desired line to get through without even putting a foot down which is a huge accomplishment for me.
And also, I LOVED taking photos of my friends racing in the Comp category after my race was finished. You should probably check them out here:WORS Iola Bump & Jump
Next up is WORS Camrock on June 5!