RACE REPORT: Wednesday at Wakefield Three (WAW#3)

RACE REPORT: Wednesday at Wakefield Three (WAW#3)

last night was week three of Potomac Velo Club's summer spectacular Wednesday at Wakefield

for those that do not know Wednesday at Wakefield is the dc area mountain biker's version of a summer softball league
four wednesdays in a row in the middle of summer there are these short multilap races just outside of washington dc
it is local and grass roots

with great camaraderie and fantastic competition
it is a gathering the cycling community

it is one of the ties that bind


riding wakefield is different than racing wakefield
don't judge it until you try it

the morning started with a misty spit that had me fearing an afternoon of summer rain
but as the day progressed it seemed clear that the races would be held in the evening
no real precipitation every gathered
an flurry of emails back and forth with neighbor and friend Chris McGill built up some plans for carpooling to the event
a mad dash out the door from work a few minutes early then a meeting to load up my gear in the alley behind my house
with Chris' super stylish mini van filled with bikes we were ready to head to Wakefield Regional Park in Northern Virginia

Chris McGill had his Cannondale Single Speed and I had my Jamis Exile Single Speed each with 29 inch wheels
as we rolled down Interstate 395 Chris caught me up on his last three weeks of riding, racing, and traveling...
man that guy loves to race his bikes! ROAD on Saturday... MOUNTAIN on Sundays... and sometimes some racing in between
I then caught Chris up on the highlights of my last three weeks since I last saw him which involved an amusement park trip, swimming in the pool with the kids, and some off road riding

a few minutes before arriving at the park I pieced together that Chris was planning to race the
"back to back"
Chris would be lining up with the Single Speed Class at 5:55 then the Experts at 6:55
although I had planned on taking photos of the races before the Clydesdale Event Chris convinced me to race the
"back to back"
his logic made sense... you are here... why not do it?
if it does not kill you... it will make you stronger

there was just enough time to register and throw the number plates on the bike
rolled down to the start and shared an awkward hello to the familiar faces in the Single Speed Class as I nudged my way into the front row

two minutes to start which dwindled down to a a silent
FIVE... FOUR... THREE... TWO... ONE...
the silence was maddening
all I could hear was the thumping of my heart
it was like
the raven knocking at my chamber door
then out of the black silence and into the present time
at the sound of the words
GO! there was an ever present sound of knobbies pushing gravel
the race had begun
hearts pounding from anxiety became hearts pounding from exertion as the Single Speed Class muscled a mad sprint up a loose gravel climb and into the singletrack into the woods

the two races back to back can be a bit to get my head around

much of my mental energy of race one is trying to figure out how much to expend while still allowing enough energy in reserve to race the later event at 6:55

like the fool I am it was red line all the way
over cooking it
accelerating too hard and braking too hard
entirely inefficient... riding way above a groove pace
an effort void of flow

in the singletrack I followed in a pack of racers within view of the lead guys in our class
a turn or twenty yards ahead I watched Cargo Mike, Chris McGill, and Eagle Scout Tom from The Family Bike Shop play a bit of cat and mouse
it was clear that these three were the contenders for the podium

I fought to keep up pace so that they remained in sight
my guess was that these guys were back pedaling so that they could conserve some energy for a last lap sprint
each getting a feel for the other's weaknesses so that they could try to exploit them later

time lost on each lap as I took the girl scout route around the log
if you do not do it in practice... do not be a fool to try it in the game
this type of obstacle should become part of my vocabulary
as of yet this size log could not be cleared by me without the assistance a fork lift

the laps rolled with the usual struggle to maintain pace and position
the clydesdale race occupied far too much energy in the forefront of my brain
sometimes we need to stay in the moment
I was not entirely in the moment
when on the bike think about the bike

you can do your taxes when you get home
in this case the first race would greatly dictate how things would develop in the second race
I was not entirely in the moment...

so much of my mental energy was on whether I would finish on time for the second race and how hard I should race so that I can race an additional three laps

across the finish line with no time to check my standings I went to my bag to grab some Hammer Gel and some water....
ah water.... water is precious
not Red Bull
not one of the many electrolyte filled energy drinks options
just water... simple and pure... H2O

time was passing

there was not much time... there was not any time
it was time to approach the line for race two
in fact I got a nudge forward from one of the lovely ladies of PVC

the men's experts had already started their race
luckily the Clydesdales would be released last
there was still time for some more refueling and some time to recover
a squirt of my Red Bull Gatorade mixture in my water bottle

yes... water is precious
but this engine needs some starter fluid!

at the line I greeted my Clydesdale Competition
within this friendly set of hellos I measured my opponents
hmmm.... who will be a threat? who will be my competition
I asked myself who was in the top four from the week prior
Marine John and Chris Redlack would be the wheels to chase
Alistair was no where to be seen
I knew this race would be different than the week prior
no chance to sprint ahead with a dominant first lap
that fast lap was left on the course in my first race with the Single Speeders
this would be an effort to maintain
an effort to finish
an effort not to be humiliate

I was wishing I had a geared bike for the second attack
my legs could have used something other than muscle and hectic cadence
I could have used a set of fresh legs
fresh legs were on all other Clydesdale competitors
my legs were fried and there was no geared bike option

Jim Carlson of PVC gave us some instructions then released the mob
we sprinted forward
I had no sprint... others sprinted forward leaving me lagging behind
I considered pulling over and grabbing a beer
the loose gravel on the hill seemed more loose and the hill seemed more steep
I lacked the mental energy to pick an efficient line
I crested the hill in seventh or eight place
my legs hurt
I knew it was going to be a tough race

the women's sport class lines up and is released just prior to the clydesdale class
it is not long after the start that the faster clydesdales start catching the slower women sport racers
once on the course and in the race I could see ahead that the clydesdale leaders were getting stuck behind some of the women sport racers
one by one racers snuck past
everyone got stuck in the queue
there are points on the course where passing is not entirely an option

clean fast passing takes energy
I lacked the energy to force the pass
there were many times where I was forced to settle in and roll at another racer's pace

but... this was not just my fate
the Clydesdales around me were forced to do the same
I was able to pick off the Clydesdales in front of me as well as the Sport women that I caught
the leading two Clydesdales were in sight

Chris Redlack and Marine John were hammering up in front
by the tale end of lap one Chris had pulled away from John as I closed the gap

when the opportunity presented itself I passed John then paced with Redlack from a distance

by midway of lap two of my second race I was riding on Redlack's rear wheel
trying to get an idea of how to best play out the rest of the race
like a fool I asked to pass
then being an arrogant fool I tried to drop my old friend Chris Redlack
there was no dropping Redlack... it is not clear I could have dropped him with fresh legs
yet I tried

on the power lines head headed out I hammered
but by the time I was making the swooping banked bmx turns to head back on the powerlines I could see that Chris was not far behind
so on the power lines headed back I hammered some more
there were a few chances to pass
I thought that the traffic would slow chris
but... he made some clean passes and got back on my wheel

I was hurtin for certain
Kent Baake and Cargo Mike cheered as I entered the dippty doos
my arms and legs were fried
I could not flow anything
Redlack rode behind me as I got sloppy
my sweat soaked body slipped off the saddle
and my legs came out of the clips
it was getting ugly
I had lost my rhythm
I had no groove

Chris and I chatted as we worked the turns of the last lap
in a friendly way Chris suggested less braking and more flow
telling me to trust the tires
recommending that I was going too hard into the turns, then braking too hard, all the while forcing myself to expend an excess of energy by trying to accelerate out of the turns
he was right...
I tried to flow more and brake less
use my speed instead of forcing myself to accelerate from an essential stand still on each turn

I asked Chris where he was going to pass me
knowing that I had failed dropping him on my previous attempts I tried to let my legs recover
so that I could be ready for him when he attacked
Chris did not attack
Chris told me he was not sure if he was going to try and make a pass

instead he just chilled out on my rear wheel
enjoying the ride and ignoring the race

it was good to ride/race with my old buddy Chris Redlack
I knew what he was going through

in years prior he had done the back to back and the taste of victory was not so sweet beating him in the Clydesdale event after he had also raced in the Single Speed Class
there had been another Clydesdale named Doug who went back to back when I went back to back last year so the measure would be more fair and the playing field would be level
as he did not want to race me fresh in the Clydesdale Class as I had just expended myself in the Single Speed event
it is this friendly competition that aids in our growth as athletes
we push ourselves through these sorts or friendly rivalries

with Chris Redlack following close on my tail we started to run out of course
the last section of single track offered some wide sections where I feared an attack
I was pleased when my legs did not lock up when I had to step out of the saddle to muscle the final short steep climb
then with things too tight to pass I braced myself for the last seconds of humiliation
the 20 yards of road leading to the finish
I feared Chris sling shotting past me
but he did not

I hammered the final 20 yards leaving it on the course
Chris followed in right behind me
I am not sure if he sprinted the final 20 yards
I just know that I finished in front of him

we look forward to the meetings
the familiar faces and the known challenges
it is always more fun with there is a race on the course
Chris and I have been racing together and against each other for years
it is an interesting friendship

as it turns out Chris Redlack and I went to St Mary's College of Maryland together
I was a few years ahead of him
but we were there at the same time
I played soccer and chris played rugby
we never met until a race a Wakefield in adult life
his face was familiar
when we met I could picture him at the Green Door or Villa House
my mind brought up a mental image of him with an SMC blue and white striped rugby jersey
but it was not until Wednesday At Wakefield that we had a formal introduction
funny that this is where we came to know each other and became friends

it was time well spent
my legs were fried but I had a smile on my face
sure I wanted to try and take some photos
but... I also want to ride my bike and test my limits
on this day I definitely tested my limits

Wakefield is unlikely for me next week
good thing I got my fill of Wakefield by doing the back to back at this last race

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