RACE REPORT: Wednesday at Wakefield #3

RACE REPORT: Wednesday at Wakefield #3
W@W3 2009

no need for a traffic report... we know that
Interstate 395 during afternoon Rush Hour is going to have a volume of cars that will cause some sort of delay
as for a weather report...
the weather of the day was far different than the week prior... clear skies... low humidity... warm... not uncomfortably hot... and no threat of rain
now on with the RACE REPORT!

the two weeks prior I raced in the Clydesdale Class on my
Jamis Exile Single Speed 29er
this week it seemed like a good idea to try and get better acquainted with the
Niner: Rip Nine... a geared bike squishy front and rear

with bags full of all sorts cycling gear and my bike loaded on top of my car I arrived with the usual frustration of post work traffic and pulled into a somewhat congested Wakefield Regional Park


all sorts of post work athletic activity
kids jamming in the skate park, woman suited up for softball competitions... astro turf playing soccer players... men playing indoor full court basketball... as well as the gym rats heading to weights, swimmin
g pools, and tread mills...
and then of course mountain bikers all buzzed around the parking lot
mountain bikers out for a ride and mountain bikers getting ready to race

a Potomac Velo Club volunteer directed me toward one of the few remaining parking space
s down by one of the many Rec Centers on this very interesting suburban athletic compound
I rushed to sign the waivers and get my numbers on the bike then suited up and then rolled on down to the start line to get ready for the release of the race

as usual the pre-race anxiety engulfed me

the anxiety of the moment was heightened by the anxious experience of the interstate traffic and the can of Red Bull I had just ingested
at the line there were some pokes, prods, and questions about the fancy bike I was racing


PVC Results for Wednesday at Wakefield

Can these numbers be correct? Did the promoters
fail to subtract the starting staggered starting times? This may be one of my slowest W@W Race efforts in years... on the Back to Back of years prior I averaged significantly faster times! WOW! I do need to learn how to race/ride this bike

back to the report...

the various categories were grouped for the 6:55 release

staggered they released each group
... Expert Men... Expert Women... Sport Men... Sport Women... and then finally... THE CLYDESDALES!

when it was time for the Clydesdales to go they had given the the Sport Woman a two minute head start... this delayed start would change the dynamic of the race significantly
not only two minutes behind the women... all the other staggered release times added up to more time before having to pass racers from other classes

at the release I did not fumble with the pedals

I managed to clip in without issue and went back and forth between the gears looking for the right gear to get
myself up the hill ahead of my competition
when I rounded the top of the hill I was a few bikes from first
then on the flats I dropped it into a harder gear and
accelerated past the other racers... just edging by Marine John so that I could enter the singletrack first
this all seemed like a bit of a repeat of week prior

this was not how I wanted to get there... but I was in the lead in my class
that is where I wanted to be
that is where I needed to be
I wanted to be in control of my pace and the Clydesdale Race

rolling on the dusty singletrack I could feel a line of large cyclists in my shadow
not just one set of tires... but several
I tried to let my body recover from the effort at the start and find a groove

the longer gap of time before the release of the Clydesdale Class changed the first lap

making this a very different race than the weeks prior
on the Creek Trail there was no one to pass... it was smooth sailing
there was not a cluster of Sport Women setting my pace
there was not the Sport Men in their Singletrack Caterpillar
I was able to ride the turns at my pace without the need slow behind other racers often having to wait for the double track to pass

maybe this was not helping me?
maybe the racers ahead of me give me something to shoot for?
maybe passing forces me to race faster and harder?
these thoughts all after seeing the results... because at the time I thought that I was racing fast
I just thought that the plush suspension front and rear made for a comfortable ride at speed

unfamiliar with this very expensive squishy bike with all these gears I tried to find a groove
I accelerated where I could and tried to arc the turns with speed and grace
during this whole first lap I could feel what I was confident was Timmy of Gripped Racing in my shado
there was no shaking him... he matched each effort I put forward
I did not have the passed racers to work as a slow moving pic

at the start of the second lap the passing started
the timing was such that there was not so much need to slow and roll at another racer's pace
I was feeling good about my race

in my head I thought about how my finishing time would be more reflective of my race efforts of the weeks prior
I considered how there would be less a measure of my having to slow and go at the other racer's pace
mistakenly I thought that this was going to be the time trial pace that I could compare my times to the other classes
mistakenly I thought that this was going to be my fastest race time of my three approaches to Wakefield this summer

there was much consideration of "smart racing"

I tried to remember that this bike responds differently and has different pedal clearance
throughout the race I did my best not to have my pedal kiss the earth or a rock on the down stroke

this has been an error that has sent me crashing to the ground more than once
in fact it was this kiss of the pedal that sent me crashing at the Baker's Dozen earlier this year
a crash that caused some injuries that I am still contending with

when the third lap started I was feeling like I had the race in the bag
I could not feel anyone nipping at
my tail so I toned it down a bit
again... trying to get a feel for the bike and trying to race smart
tried to race fast and fluid... thinking that if I did not make any foolish moves that caused a flat tire or a crash that I would finish first in my class
then about halfway through this last lap on the powerline section I glanced back and saw that Timmy of Gripped Racing was not far behind... I gave him a friendly wave and a shout which he may or may not have seen or heard

back into the woods I thought about laying down the hammer and the risk of crashing
a crash would more than likely do more damage than trying to increase the gap

but I could not risk getting caught... relaxing was not an option

so rather than soft pedal my way to the finish I tried to keep things at race pace

anxiously I tried to get to the finish without any close contact with any of the other racers in my group
I reeled in as many riders as I could and made as many passes as I could

across the line I shouted out to the time keepers... FIRST IN CLYDESDALE

then went to join the post race experience

after coming across the line I was greeted by some cheers of some fellow DCMTB team mates
I stopped and exchanged congratulations with my team mates

Cargo Mike looked at me and commented... "you are not even sweating."
then when talking to Timmy of Team Gripped there was talk that I was slower on the squishy bike than I was on the Single Speed... I thought it was possible... but I did not think the speeds would be this significant

the week prior I had felt that I was faster than the first week... even with the last lap in the rain
but not sure how this third week could be so many minutes slower... especially the way the race was run... yes... it appears that I do need to learn how to ride/race this fancy bike

the week prior even with the rain I shared a great enthusiasm with the other racers that I thought that our race time was faster than the week prior
this week I was not so sure... yes... I already ruined the climatic finish by revealing the results

but even before seeing the results there was talk that I had been slower on this rig than my other ride

ah... the finishing place is more significant than the finishing time... but there is a tale to the tape

last week with a faster time I was a minute or so before the next finishing Clydesdale
while this week the gap was roughly 25 seconds

the finishing times are not really something to fret about
but knowing that I do not know how to ride/race this bike is an issue

maybe this is not the course for me and this bike
maybe this bike will give me an advantage on a different course
but should this bike give me a disadvantage on this course?
well... maybe with my riding style... but this should not be the case

the race was followed by some post race excitement
everyone was buzzing about how things had gone on the course
everyone had a tale to tell
after the awards were handed out a good number of people went across the street to get some food at Kilroy's
yes... Potomac Velo Delivers Again!

even if we do not have the race we had intended to have

in my years of cycling I had wanted to do comparisions of different bikes on the same course
often wondering about comparing results on 26ers versus 29ers
and of course single speeds versus geared bikes
this is a summer training series... the perfect place for such experiments

sadly this summer and the responsibilities of adult life have not allowed for the "back to back"
that is the test of not just the bike... but the body, the spirit, and the mind
it frustrates me to see others doing the "back to back" with success
while I am struggling to get my head around one race
oh well... each season brings its own set of complications and issues

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