RACE REPORT: Wednesday at Wakefield #4

RACE REPORT: Wednesday at Wakefield #4 (W@W#4)
this Wednesday past was W@W's last race in Potomac Velo Club's four race summer training series
it had been a hot summer with record a record breaking heatwave
which made for some sweaty racers
but honestly... it is always brutally hot at the W@W races
DC is known for oppressively hot summer days with suffocating humidity
the week had started and I was buzzing pretty good after a fantastically rewarding race weekend in West Virginia
I had traveled out to WVA with an old cycling buddy Steve Hartel to hang out, ride, and then race the West Virginia Mountain Bike State Championships
in the weeks prior at W@W I had been going head to head with Scott Young of Blackwater Bikes
the healthy competition at the line on our local course had me yearning to race on something more technically challenging
I spoke with Scotty Young of Blackwater Bikes about heading out to West Virginia to race him on his hom
e court... those words were just words... words I never thought I would try to take to action... but the timing was right and I did in fact load up my gear and race in the mountains of West Virginia
words on that weekend here...
Pre-Ride of the WVA race course with Matt Marcus in the Gwadzilla Archive
the battle in the Clydesdale Class at the West Virginia Mountain Bike State Championship in the G
my bikes were more beaten than my body...
which is pretty bad... as my body is beaten pretty bad
it seemed that nothing was ridable
not a bike in the quiver seemed race worthy

my squishy Rip Nine was rolling a little rough and in need of some serious TLC after the hammer-fest on the rocky technical course in WVA
while my Jamis Exile Single Speed was wearing an ineffective front shock
I had purchased a used shock from fellow DCMTB team racer... thanks Tyler... but I needed some mechanical assistance to have this fork put on my bike
a friend in need is a friend in deed...
I called out to Cargo Mike
Cargo Mike is my riding partner, my therapist, my mechanic, and my friend
Cargo Mike answered the call telling me he could come by Tuesday evening to try to set things right
as things often go with bicycle repairs
the shock replacement was easier said then done

the evening involved all sorts of scrambling
but... by the end of the evening the Jamis Exile Single Speed was more race ready than it had been in months
while an assortment of other bikes had been bastardized in this FRANKENBIKE effort

Wednesday afternoon arrived and I picked the boys up from camp
there had been talk but there had not been any firm plans
but with Lisa coming home from work a few minute early it only made sense for the whole family to drive out to Wakefield Regional Park for an evening of bike riding and bike racing in the heat
so... I loaded up the Honda Element with bicycles for 4
Dean and Grant would be racing in the under ten race hosted by Trails for Youth
Lisa would run sweep behind Grant
while I would cheer from the sidelines then line to race with the Clydesdales
all of this was a great deal to get my head around
the boys were just home from a day at camp and were seeking some "downtime"
but dad had different plans
Dean accepted the race option without issue
while Grant protested... Grant protested as he usually does to this sort of activity

much like the previous approach to Wakefield with the boys Dean accepted the task of racing while Grant fought it
on the drive up I gently tried to make him aware that his pre-race anxiety was normal and was felt not just by him... but by others... including myself
my words fell on deaf ears
there was no time for an Andy Griffith moment
instead... I just registered him and threw a number on his bike

sure enough... the words "it is all better when on the bike" do not only ring true to me
but also to Grant
with the bike off the rack and onto the dirt Grant hopped on
with his butt on the saddle and his hands on the grips Grant said enthusiastically... "I am going to race"
we rushed to the line
at the sound of GO! they were off
it gives me great anxiety for my boys to be out in the woods out of sight
sure Lisa was riding sweep behind Grant... but her skills are somewhere between Dean and Grants so she may not be the best coach in the chase position

without my camera I traversed the course to try and cheer for my family
on the wooden boardwalk I shouted out my support... but did not get within ear shot of the boys until I met up with them at the singletrack feeding into the finish

it was hot... the boys were flush at the completion of their race
I was proud of their effort
life is nothing without attendance and participation
without those elements there is no chance for success
the boys thrived

Dean managed to win the stinky sock award for finishing in the same slot two weeks in a row (4th place)
while Grant's effort of completion is impressive because he is only six years old

with the boys hydrating at the finish I altered my focus
up to the car I got into my kit and got onto my bike
having plenty of time before the start I meandered about working a social warm up

it was the last week at Wakefield which means that there is some wackiness
some racers suited up in Hawaiian Shirts
while other racers race in gowns, skirts, or dresses
although I was not going to match the presence of Ricky D... I did have a outfit for the occasion
the tartan skirt which was meant to have a Britney Spears school girl appeal did not
have a white collar shirt... but a wife beater... it was too hot for me to try and race in long sleeve shirt tied at the navel

the bike felt good
Cargo Mike had really hooked me up
as well did Tyler
the fork felt righteous
while everything else felt tight!
at the line I looked at the competition
there was nothing new at the line
Scott Young and I exchanged pleasantries as we reflected on the race in West Virginia the Sunday past
the other classes took off and before I knew it our release had happened

almost ill prepared I tried to get the pedals going
like that line in the Pink Floyd song... I had "missed the starting gun"

in deep gravel I fought along side a pack of very large riders
it was the last day for proving ourselves on this course
everyone was hungry... Clydesdales are always hungry
with gravel kicking up from my rear tire I fought with Scott Young of Blackwater Bikes at my side
at the base of the hill it seemed that I may not win the hole shot

it was hard to tell who was who
barry quigley was not in the mix
those around me were making a solid play for the line
my guess... Sean Chisham was fighting on one side and Scott Young of Blackwater Bikes was on the other
but young red headed Adrian Porter could have been in my shadow as well

with a little added effort I reached the top of the gravel hill a spokes width ahead of the others
as I made the left hand turn on the service road towards the first section of singletrack more gravel got kicked up by my rear wheel

into the singletrack on into the woods and Scott Young of Blackwater Bikes was right on my tail
sitting in my shadow... I did not feel comfortable with him so close behind me and my feeling a little less than spry
I knew that I had to maintain focus
it was certain that Scott Young of Blackwater Bikes would capitalize on any error

the air pressure in my tires was rock hard
I was riding bareback... no tools... no tube... no pump
although I had brought a seat pack... I did not put it on the bike
I felt it was all or none
a flat would take me out of the race

at the line I had looked at the bikes around me
I had counted on Sean Chisham to gun for me with such intensity that maybe he could bump Scott Young back to third in the day's results
thus allowing me to win the series
as things stood even a win would not grant me the series... yet I had to win just the same

it was hot
I was sweating

it was not clear if we were hammering harder or suffering from the effort on the Sunday past
Scott Young of Blackwater Bikes was in my Shadow and I was feeling less energized than the weeks prior
was it the heat... was it the effort
was I going harder which left me weaker
or was I weaker which had me riding slower
had the race the Sunday prior left me depleted?

wakefield is a long pump course
or so people tell me
as I have never ridden a pump course

wakefield is not only a lesson in momentum
wakefield is also an exercise in passing
trying to pass civilly

hot and hypoxic I tired to pass as respectfully as possible
at times I found myself at a shortage of words
at other times I found my words ignored
my favorite time to pass is when re-entering or when exiting the woods
I will normally ride in a racer's shadow
thinking that they feel and hear me for a bit
then make my request
the majority of racers are pretty good about granting the pass
some racers take the request as a challenge and try to pick up the pace
which of course... is not what I am seeking

I just want to move forward and get on with my day

a few times I found myself frustrated waiting for the pass
fearing that Scott Young would catch my rear wheel and make the pass himself
fearing that the small gap that I had worked for would be erased by my having to move at the pace of the race from the other class moving slowly in front of me

the laps unfolded
at the end of lap one I was depleted
I could not imagine trying to do two more laps in that heat at that intensity
yet I maintained
making a mental note of when I thought I was half way through lap two which would be half way through the race
which gave me a feeling of accomplishment
also gave me the spirit to hammer onward

Scott Young of Blackwater Bikes was chasing with some serious intensity
on the trailside were an assortment of hecklers including the race director of the WVA MTN Bike State Championships
I was too winded to utter hello to Todd or any others that shouted as I passed
it was all a matter of want
and well... as much as Scott Young of Blackwater Bikes may want it... I think I wanted it more
so I fought all the variables around me and endured

into lap three there were moments where I felt the fatigue of the effort from the Sunday Prior
out of the saddle when I muscled up the short climbs I felt the hint of a cramp that wanted to surface
forcing me to soft pedal a few strokes to avoid the cramp

the bike and body were holding up well enough
I was in first place with Scott of Blackwater Bikes maybe thirty seconds behind
I rode out the final turns of the race course mixing intensity and smart racing
across the line I was pleased with my efforts and my achievement
it was not easy
I was glad it was over

the post race experience at Wakefield is as much a part of the series as the series itself
the mixing and mingling among the racers is a pleasure
it amused me to see Scott Young of Blackwater Bikes work the crowd
it was interesting to see how many people he knew
like he was the Mayor of Mountain Bike Town

the awards were late in the evening
my wife and children were ready to go home
but I was interested in staying for the podium
it was not just for me... but to be fair to my opponents
although I had won three of the races.... the DNF caused by the flat tire allowed Scott Young of Blackwater Bikes the chance to score more points and to win the series
Scott Young of Blackwater Bikes had approached the series with the goal of beating me... and well... in the terms of the series he achieved his goal

good work... good racing... good stuff

three cheers to Potomac Velo Club for their contribution to the sport and to the mountain bike race community as a whole
the Wednesdays at Wakefield summer training series is a highlight of the summer each and every year
a wholesome good time for sure

glad I was able to make all four races
glad it is behind me

photos by SuperFrenchie aka Denis Chazelle

photos of Dean and Grant by Phil D.

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