Monday, October 12, 2009

Hawks' Wings Iced at WigWam MTB Challenge

The unseasonably cold weather put a chill into the Red Hawks cycling team yesterday at the Wigwam MTB Challenge in Sheboygan, Wis. Eric Smith was the only Ripon cyclist to earn a podium spot in the 12th and final race of the 2009 Wisconsin Off Road Series. Smith placed second in the male 17-18 year age class of the Junior X category.

Junior X is the equivalent of the elite category for racers 18 and under. Eric lost time when he had to repair a flat midway through the race, but he still finished. Several other riders abandoned the race after experiencing flats. Despite his mechanical setback, Eric finished seventh out of 13 in the Junior X category. Five of those 13 did not finish.

Andy Fehrenbach could relate to those who abandoned. He experienced two flats during his race and was forced to drop out after the second one. Furby was in good position in his age group (17-18) of the sport class before dropping out. It was unfortunate that he was forced to abandon because he was having a great race before the mechanical issues.

Tiffany Seering was the highest placing Red Hawk in the sport division. She finished 17th in the women’s field — fifth in her age group (19-29). During the race, she complained about having difficulty breathing due to the cold. With temperatures in the lower 30s at the start, the cold could have affected her performance ... perhaps cold induced asthma?

Ripon’s other performers — Andy Ayers, Paul Meuer and Zach Smith — finished 96th, 152nd and 158th, respectively, in the sport division.

It was not a great race for us overall, but it provided Eric and Tiffany with some more solid race experience leading up to nationals and gave the rest of the team incentive to work hard in the off-season to prepare for next year.

Eric and Tiffany will leave Thursday to head to the USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals at Northstar at Tahoe Resort in Truckee, Calif. The rest of the team has some downtime before participating in the Iceman Cometh Challenge, Nov. 7, in Traverse City, Mich.

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