I was able to hit a nice ‘peak’ in what has been a roller coaster season and win my 6th Firehouse 50 time trial in as many years. This was a tough one. Leading up to the event I knew I was hitting a peak but the mental toughness had eluded me, motivation was low. Not sure why. I was able to post a fast Black Dog time on the previous Wednesday which gave me a glimmer of hope that I may be able to ride a fast 50 miler if I got all my ducks in a row. I was, and still am, shocked how fast the race crept up on me. WTF happened to July? My times were consistent and improving in the shorter events and the fixed gear helped dial up the cadence some. But the late season State TT was a disappointment. So, going into the last week of prep I simply stayed on my pre-FH50 schedule and hoped for the best from my legs and lungs on race day. Larry Foss at the Fix put the finishing touch on my legs while my buddy Randy and the Gibbs’ family put my mind at ease with true Wisconsin hospitality. Everything fell into place except the weather. I heard the wind blowing at 3 am when pre-race anxiety kept me from sleeping, as it always does, for fear of over sleeping the 5:20 am alarm. Squals of rain were blasting through the region and it looked to be an epic event but a course record was out of question further sinking my motivation. Stick and Elise had my VIP spot reserved near the start and all ducks were lining up for an 8:12 am start time. I made the perfect pre-race wheel choice rolling Conti attack tires on my HED3 front, Jet Disc rear. I opted for the HED3 front, a better choice when wind is part of the aerodynamic equation. I wan’t too concerned with the start order but saw an old familiar name 30 seconds behind me, Nick Robertson, former Black Dog record holder (13:49) and member of a previous 4-person winning team. So he knows the roads and has tt savy, but lacked the fitness and rode for fun and I suspect he’ll return to form soon. So, I had the race and roads to myself and stayed in ‘control of the panic’. Former Postal rider and National TT champ, Dylan Casey, referred to time trailling as a ‘controlled panic’ and it has always stuck with me.. when you lose control of the panic you’ve lost your best tt performance. Early on I was passing my 30 second men Stick LaVick and Dave Ludwigson when a moderate sized black bear crossed right in front of us. It sobered me up some and kept me alert for the rest of the race. Animals were on the move. I got into a nice rythm and the wind didn’t affect me until about the Telemark Lodge entrance about 22 miles in. It was like a wall but once at Cable the push was welcomed. I jammed through Lake Owen drive a little better than in years past and a new stretch of black top was a welcome relief from this rustic road. The home stretch on hwy 62 was all tailwind, 54×11 and all gas Left in the tank was vaporized rolling a 1:52:40 for my second fastest time in 6 attempts. The race itself was a mental roller coaster for me. I was dealing with some saddle sore pain and heart breaking weather conditions. I thought about what I would be doing in 24 hours and walking my dog seemed so far away. I would start to hate it. Then I would get a sense of my speed and how physiologically I was on my game and I would fall in love with it again. When you are really ripping you are always on the verge of giving up on yourself.. unfortunately that’s when you ride your best.