some words on wakefield...

Some words on wakefield...

week two of the summer festival we in the dc metropolitan mountain bike scene know as Wednesday at Wakefield

like any event the race approached with a certain level of anxiety
there was an internal debate about the "back to back"
but it all seemed like too much
had considered racing the Single Speed event at 5:55 then the Clydesdale class at 6:55
it is a close cut but it can be done
last year I tried to do all four races as a back to back with mixed results
but... the logistics were more than I could get my head around
my geared monkey is old and tired with some serious surface wear on the rear rim from the v-brake and unable to shift until replace the cable and housing
so I decided to focus on one bike and one race

the Jamis Exile Single Speed 29er with the Reba fork would the bike of choice
as it is pretty much my only working mountain bike right now
but even this bike needed some TLC before trying to take things to the race level
not much more than some new brake pads
then the basic cleaning and lubeing of the drivetrain
but some TLC just the same

the repairs were done in the company of Cargo Mike
this is a wise move for any lesser mechanic
the lesser mechanic should always hang out with a superior mechanic when they do their repairs
it can offer some piece of mind as well as a more highly developed understanding of the workings of the machine

the repairs were done old school style
with the bicycle flipped upside down on the sidewalk of the city street
I had asked Cargo Mike to buy me some brake pads when he was working at Revolution Cycles after his day job
sure enough... Mike came through
bought the brake pads and tweaked my bike to a level that make me that much more confident about racing

after a little more time on the clock I was able to get out of work a few minutes early
early enough to rush out to Wakefield to attempt the back to back but instead I ran some errands
I had tried to get some clamps from District Hardware at its new 24th Street location

but they did not have what I needed so I had to trek out to Home Depot
while at Home Depot I also went to Giant to grab some Gatorade and Beer
gotta be fueled up!

these errands and a short walk with the dog burned up almost all my casual time

I still had enough time to drive south on I-395 to Wakefield Park
the traffic is what I expected it to be
I tried not to get too anxious as I had plenty of time
but the bumper to bumper traffic slowed to a parking lot
my heart started beating fast
I fought beating the steering wheel
to calm down and energize my body i worked on some breathing

maybe I should have chanted serenity now serenity now cause the traffic was making me anxious and angry
so many cars with one person doing this everyday seems so illogical
why can't these people figure it out?
it could happen for a good percentage
all these cars that seat 4-7 people with nothing but the driver?

arrived at Wakefield
drove towards the mountain bike course in the back when I
saw a familiar form...
it was fellow Clydesdale and old friend Chris Redlack
I turned around and parked by the softball field along side of Chris
the ladies playing softball made for a good second of eye candy
we caught up and talked about kids and the infrequent riding and the occasional racing
as we spoke I tried to size Chris up... Chris and I have ridden and race together for years
we are rivals
we are friends
I know he is fast so I ignored his claims on being slow

once suited up we went for a warm up together...

we dipped into the woods and rode casually
more to familiarize ourselves with the conditions of the course and anything unexpected
more than warming up the legs and lungs
we took turns leading
Chris went on about being away from the bike and being out of shape but he looked pretty spry
I was pleased that he was on his Single Speed rather than his geared bike
that could be a good equalizer

the camera was in my pack but I was unable to take any pictures
it is hard to play camera man and racer
had to focus on one and the other
just as I had to forsake the back to back I also had to forsake the race photographs
I cheered for my friends and familiar faces
Wakefield is a social gathering
it is very local and very grassroots
over the years I have come to know a good number of the local racers

Scott Scudamore and Jim Carlson ran the show with so many other familiar faces from the Potomac Velo Club
both Mike Patisal and Larry Catilla (whose names I have just misspelled) were sweat soaked from racing on the trails that they have sweat so hard leading crews with buckets and shovels grooming this short bmx style mountain bike course

there were a good number of Clydesdales at the line
we were the last group to be released on an evening where the weather was pretty darn close to perfect
not too hot... not too humid... and no threat of rain or lightning overhead

at the release there was a mad sprint to the short steep loose gravel climb
there was a good 50 yards of flat before the climb
I feared that this flat section would disadvantage me against the geared bikes so I hammered out of the saddle to try and arrive first at the single track
I did

I have not seen the results
I do not know my times
not sure if anyone was taking pictures
but I do know that I tried to race fast and smart
the trails were pretty much dry
a few puddles and a little slop
but pretty much as dry and buff as can be

a few good alterations had been made to the loop
and the powerline section had been trimmed of growth
the tight single track course not only offered the challenge of trying to flow and trying to maintain top speed
but also offered the challenge of making a pass

the sport women were released before us
which gave me the first set of obstacles
everyone was very gracious in allowing the pass when/if possible
all the while people trying to stay in their race while not preventing others from having their race

again I tried to breath when in traffic
I knew that when I was slowed to another racer's pace that I was a sitting duck for the bodies behind me
I could not look back to see who was behind me
but I knew that they were there

later in the race on some twisting singletrack I caught view of Redlack then also Marine John
not sure how far behind me they were
not sure if anyone was closer to me than them
but seeing them made me realize that I needed to stay in my race
smart racing was on my mind

trying to avoid a mechanical, a flat, or an injury causing crash
but... I think my smart racing may have had me rolling at a snail's pace
so I turned things back up to adrenalin pumping racing
a little ugly on some of the turns
trying to take the turns too fast causing a panic when too much braking caused my rear wheel to fish tail
but always catching myself and correcting things
never coming off the bike
squierrling a bit but never crashing

they say leaving it on the course
by lap three I was wondering if I had left it on lap one and lap two
the passing traffic allowed a chance to rest
at this time I estimated I was passing the Men's Sport

the guys in Men's Sport can be a challenge to pass
they can all ride faster than they are riding
they all wake up and accelerate when asked to allow a pass
none of them want to allow the pass
so I got stuck at the tail end of a few single track catapillars
passing two, three, five or six racers in a row can be a challenge
some were more generous than others
all gave way in the end

it takes great energy to make the pass
I had to pass a number of racers
some in better passing spots than others

my legs were burning as the course approached its third lap end
the final couple of hundred yards were taken at a less than spectacular pace
my time would suffer for it
but I did not think my position would change
I rolled across the line finishing first in a Clydesdale class that was maybe 12-20 racers thick

it was a good night on the bike
it was good to be out on the bike
it was good to get together with friends

after the race I joined people at Kliroys for a steak and cheese sandwich and a beer
good times in the summer time!


KML said...

Dude, you are fast as heck, no snail in you for sure!!! Awesome race too, first time out there last night and it was a blast.

Rob said...

Musta just missed seeing you head out man, I got cooled down in time to watch some of sport and expert roll out, but then I headed out as I was wiped out. Fun course, next year I'll try and race clyde maybe.

Meredith said...

Wow. I'm trying to find a different softball team(s) to play on and one guy asked if I could come out to Wakefield tonight. I googled Wakefield and softball and your blog was the first thing to come up. Crazy!

gwadzilla said...

my blog is all things Wakefield!

you should bring a bike out to wakefield and see what the two wheeled softball experience is all about!

Rob said...

Damn, nice job on taking clyde!

Damn your fast! Hopefully we will dodge the weather bullet this week.

Javaun said...

congrats again on your win! It was great seeing you the other night. Sorry we had to skate outta there. Past our bedtimes.