Back on Course
After a horrific accident on a training ride, some might have wondered if the Town of Schley’s Patrick Blakeslee would climb onto a bicycle again.
But Blakeslee never doubted, working his way far beyond ‘just-riding-along’ to racing in the Wis. Off-Road Series (WORS). His comeback appears complete after he locked up first place in his 25-29 age group in the sport class this year.
“The reason I think the season was so amazing was I was hit head-on by a truck last July,” he said. “I’ve got the metal arm and everything. I’ve made a full recovery. It’s stronger than bone and lighter. I also have a metal leg from when I broke my leg and ankle in a previous accident.
“It was a mud, blood, sweat and tears kind of season. To finish on top–I had a lot of real close finishes–took 100% effort. All the endless hours of training paid off.”
It certainly wasn’t an easy process.
“I started training in February in a snowmobile suit and a hat with ear flaps,” Patrick said. “Every time they plowed the roads, I would be biking up and down Hwy. 17. By June, I was averaging 1200 miles a month. I would train every day with 50-mile rides and on the weekend just go, go, go. Every third day I would bring my bike to work (at Wausau’s Cedar Grove Warehousing) and I would ride up and down Rib Mountain 10 times or until dark.”
Rib Mountain riding paid obvious dividends.
“Nobody could touch me on the hills,” Blakeslee said. “(Rib Mountain) was my secret weapon. Even if I was behind at the bottom of a hill, I’d shoot right to the front. I learned to love the hills.”
Mountain bike racing has its share of thrills and spills.
“I had several bad wrecks, down-a-ravine kind of wipe-outs,” Patrick said. “My helmet saved me several times. I’ve got the dents and dings to prove it. If there’s one thing I need besides carbon fiber wheels it’s a new helmet.”
Concentrating on the series brought other life changes.
“My diet changed, big time,” Patrick said. “I ate a lot of vegetables and hardly drank alcohol. I basically treated my body as a machine. I’m definitely in the best shape of my life.
“I talked a lot to the elite racers. I took bits and pieces from each of them. I never forgot anything they told me.”
Blakeslee compiled 1347 points on the season to edge out Illinois’ Brian Paterson (1328) and Beloit’s Martin Reza (1327) for the age-group title. Patrick took firsts at the Mt Morris Subaru Cup and the Green Bay Reforestation Ramble, and was the runner-up in the race at Wausau’s Nine Mile Forest. He also placed third twice.
“I owe a lot to my mom (Jeannine),” he said. “She watched my five-year-old daughter, Jolene, while I trained.”
Patrick will return to the series with a step up to the comp class next year, aided by a sponsorship from Rib Mountain Cycles.
“WORS is a blast,” Patrick said. “It’s an addicting sport.”