Oh the WEMS series... In a nutshell the Wisconsin Endurance Mountain Bike Series is comprised of some of the best single track in the midwest. However, a good portion of these courses are in State Park territory. Therefore, WEMS is married to the WiDNR to some degree. That is to say, if it rains there's a good chance the race is going to be cancelled.
Now, being a series participant one must be cognizant of possible cancellations when planning a summer of racing for myself and my wife, Amy. A series racer must complete 5 races in order to be counted in the Series standings, there are 9 total races scattered all over Wisconsin (mostly southern Wi.). So, in my case I am only able to compete in 5 WEMS races this year due to other races being scheduled as well as Amy's marathons and 1/2 marathons. A long story short, if it looks like there is a possibility a race may be cancelled due to weather conditions, I still have to go, just in case it isn't cancelled. If I miss a race by choosing not to go I'll be out of the series standings due to not completing 5 races.
The weather for this weekend's 12 Hours of Blue Mounds looked 50/50. We had to go! I checked and re-checked the website. At 1:45 p.m. Friday I checked for my last time. There were no indications that the race was in jeopardy. We packed up the camping gear, bike gear and hit the road. 7 hours later we arrived at our campsite to wet conditions and stories from other campers about a severe rain storm that moved through just a few hours ago. The weather looked good at the time so I figured I'd be riding in a bit of mud the next day, but the forecast looked good. I figured things would dry out by afternoon and it would be a race similar to the others.
We departed the tent at 5:30 a.m. I attached my number plate to my bike, brushed my teeth and we were heading to Blue Mounds State Park. My head was right for this one. I could hear the "Eye of the Tiger" playing over and over. I had my pit strategy dialed in my mind. I could feel that this was going to be a good day.
We pulled into the parking lot and something seemed strange. THERE WASN'T ONE CAR IN THE LOT!!! The only thing in the lot was a WORBA trailer and some coiled up yellow marking tape.
CANCELLED!! Yes, the race was off. My spirits crushed.
I hold no ill feelings toward the race directors, they can't control the weather. I do however feel that WEMS personnel could tweak their communication protocol a bit to aid those of us who travel great distances to participate in their races.
The call of gravel could be heard in the distance when I woke up this morning. I answered it. I would leave 'Big Mama' on the hook as I saddled up Chili. I felt a weird vibe in the garage as one steed remained and the other hung in the stand getting final preps, I was caught in the middle. Wait a second, I own these bikes, I get to choose which one to ride! It would be Chili and we'd go in search of my beloved "Fox Farm" road north of Duluth, Minnesota. It takes a little over an hour to get there, but once you're there it's so worth it.
A view from the cockpit shows exactly what I mean. No traffic, no people yelling at you because you're riding a bike, just the occasional squirrel or crow.
My nemesis, Jorge lives inside my GPS and he was demanding that I hold a certain mph today. I hate/love little Jorge. Today I would be the victor. I must be honest and give credit to the 'roadie' that was trying to get on my wheel for 45 minutes as I came back into Duluth via the north shore of the GitcheeGummee. Thanks buddy, I really buried myself trying to keep you away from me.
I also got to field test my new Mountain Tangle from Revelate Designs. Eric Parsons created this killer frame bag that can hold it all. I'm told the boys from Salsa helped at it's point of conception.
Halfway through the 'Fox Farm' and lovin' every minute of it. Usually I can't feel my toes when I cross this bridge. So nice to be riding this road in the summer. It was one of those "Too bad I'm by myself rides" or "I'm glad I'm by myself". I think you know what I mean...
O.k., maybe when I grow up I'll be a professional baseball player. All I'm saying is these guys look like they're having the time of their lives. There's no suffering, no laying down on the side of the field waiting for their maker to come and take them away. They've got it good!!
Not to mention they get to play in super cool stadiums in front of people who seemingly worship them.
Amy and I headed down to the big city (Minneapolis, MN) to cash in on my birthday present from back in April, TWINS GAME! Oh yeah, and all the pomp and circumstance that goes with it (i.e. this shot from an alley bar near the stadium). We walked, walked, and walked some more around the downtown area. My neck was sore from looking up at the buildings. I'm sure I looked like a total tourist, but I didn't care. Rarely did I know exactly where I was, but it didn't matter as Amy proves to have an internal compass that is "on" probably 80% of the time. Not to mention all you have to do is follow the masses and you'll find the stadium.
The coolest thing about Target Field is that you really don't have to stay in your seats. Just walk around and watch the game from any where, no one cares. There's no pushy stadium staff with a God complex yelling at you to "MOVE IT!" Another cool thing is the view!
I was so over joyed and full of ADHD that there was no way I could hold this pose for as long as the good man who took the picture was requiring.
After the game it was back to our hotel and "Brit's Pub" for some post game suds and a little Lawn Bowling spectatorship. We were shocked to see the handy work of these bar owners who had a huge lawn/golf green installed on this roof top so his patrons could make use of the space with what I figured was Boccie Ball. Still, it looked fun and we got totally sucked into a game where the "black" team made an amazing come back, but ultimately lost. I wept for them as their drunken spirits were crushed.
Here's Amy thinking of moving to England. A special thanks to Amy for making it a great birthday weekend (belated of course).