I know one of the biggest races in the mid-west went down this past weekend, and my name is now T.J. Woodruff according to the pic, but I have to do write ups in order and Camrock deserves one…Ore to Shore write up tomorrow. But you can check out Matter’s write up for his perspective, as we had just about the same race till 1/4 mile to go…
The Battle of Camrock was race #7 in the Wisconsin Off Road Series on August 7th. My pre-ride and race was somewhat nostalgic for me. These trails are where I first learned to Mountain Bike! A few laps on this course and I was dialed on the old technical trails, which have not changed a bit! The new stuff is amazing as well, but I definitely was not riding it as fast as the trails I was introduced to Mountain Biking on.
As I continued to ride faster and faster on the extremely technical trails it was as though I time traveled back 8-9 years to when I first started riding Mountain Bikes with my wife on these exact trails. I remembered her first Over the Bars crash and learning the extremes to which I could push my old school panaracer fire XC Pro 1.8 Tires!
Testing the limits of those old technical sections brought me back to the days I was on a steel Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo I borrowed from Grandpa’s garage to race my first citizen race. I am pretty sure Grandpa never saw the bike again. I was too busy honing my skills on these exact trails a few times a week. I would stop by Camrock on my commute home to Madison, as I was mentoring kids all over Southeast Wisconsin. I even used to get a few of those kids out to these trails to try an activity away from Drugs and Violence, maybe some early roots of “Vision”?
Anyway, here is a pic of Tristan, Brian, and I having some fun chatting on the line, what exactly is Brian pointing at, maybe the sport course crossing immediately in front of our start line?
Race was amazing and I thought I had a Win coming!…for 3/4’s a lap that is and then I rolled a tire completely off the rim. Up the start climb I followed Tristan and Brian Eppen, waiting patiently for my planned attack. I launched to the front right before the 1st single-track section and within a 1/4 lap I had a sizable gap that was growing quickly. Coming into the last tech section I looked back and could not see the chase group at the end of a field I had just exited. I was way out of sight!
Then disaster!…The tire coming off was all my fault. First off, I was taking lots of chances to push my 30-45 second lead higher and higher with every tech section. 2nd, I ran a few psi too low, the XR2’s/29 2’s are great tires, but they just cannot handle the psi I am used to in the Bontrager XDX’s, hence since I swapped to the 29 2’s I have burped or rolled a few times. It is just a bit too round with big slicer knobs that catch the ground hard, which is good for cornering, but with low PSI can grab a bit too hard and roll the tire. Lesson learned when I tried taking a 90 degree turn between two massive trees that only had about 3 feet of room to pass thru at about 20 MPH…Run XDX like tires only for crazy low PSI and bring it up a few PSI when going for a lower weight and rounder rolling resistance tire like the XR2/29 2’s.
As the lead group came up to me I was just getting the tire seated and filling up with the one co2 cartridge I had along. I looked right at Tristan and smirked/laughed saying' “It’s never easy…is IT!?” I had to laugh a bit and shrug it off to keep my emotions from going crazy over losing so much time and the possible Win…
I failed to get much air in my tire from the C02 and rode into the spectator area on a flat.
It is hard to see in this picture, but I am riding on like 5-10 PSI in tire pressure here, it was pretty sketchy!
I finally got some air in my tire and got rolling in about 25th-30th position. Not exactly sure on the position but that is around where some of the riders finished whom I was riding with when I got my bike going again. I rode fairly defeated and conservative for a lap and even stopped twice to adjust tire pressure and crashed quite a few times passing riders. During this lap a sudden down pour of rain completely changed the course, surprisingly the conditions changed for only that lap, but I was in chase mode and taking some risks, so it had me on the ground a couple times.
This picture taken by Melissa Kennedy is absolutely amazing! Big Shout OUT to Jeremy Drake on the left in the picture, he was the ultimate Hand-ups support, his encouragement, time splits to the leaders, and water hand-ups kept my head in this race when I thought my race was done for the day! You would think this photo was setup as the best Forks and Shocks in the racing business is represented well as the hand-ups and support…NICE!
If you look close, you can see how hard the down pour of rain suddenly came…you wouldn’t think it was the same race as the pictures above, and just like it came the rain was suddenly gone and the course was back to the speeds of the 1st lap if not faster!
Laps 3 and 4 I was on fire and just got faster and faster. Somehow I started to see riders I thought could be inside the top ten. The last lap I rode for broke to see if maybe I could grab a podium and I knew with every rider I caught I was gaining a little bit more cash for the day. In the end I was 6th overall just off the podium, but a great ride considering what I had to overcome.
Thanks for reading,
Photo Credit: Melissa Kennedy, Amy Dykema, Niki Frazier