RACE REPORT: Wednesday at Wakefield Number 2: The Walk of Shame

Ah... the pleasures and pain of competition
the thrill of victory... the agony of defeat... and the frustration of a failure be that failure of the mind... failure of the body... or mechanical failure
yes... even a local grass roots event like Wednesday at Wakefield can offer this full range of emotions

RACE REPORT: Wednesday at Wakefield Number 2
W@W #2

last Wednesday I was able to approach PVC's Wednesday at Wakefield with the pleasure to have my bicycle and my body operate as an efficient machine
which is not always so easy being that a good amount of my attention was directed to my two boys who were also racing that evening

luckily... with my boys' races behind me when I got to the line I was able to direct my full attention to the moment at hand
the Clydesdale Class
it is important to be in the moment when on the bike
I was in the moment...
the below link is a report about that moment or series of moments


last week I raced on my long travel squishy bike
but this week I had decided to leave the Niner: Rip Nine behind and throw my leg on the Jamis Exile Single Speed
the week prior I had the feeling that the Niner was not the right bike for the trails at Wakefield
so... I swapped the front wheel from my rigid Surly Karate Monkey to my Jamis Exile that has a front shock

32X18 seemed to be the gear of choice... which is good... because that is what I run on this bike

so... after picking the boys up from camp I dropped them off for a kayaking adventure with a teacher from their school then headed south on Interstate 395 towards Wakefield Regional Park
although I was there early enough to race in the Single Speed Class I thought I would try to center my focus on one race rather than the back to back
with the camera slung around my neck I decide to use that time to snap some photographs instead

I left off into the woods with the camera... my heart was not in it
after a few snaps of the electronic shutter I marched back to the car and suited up
which was good... because there really was not that much time to get my head right for the game

in the red and white DCMTB kit with its racing stripe design I was pretty much ready to race
I broke the pre-race anxiety with something that resembled a warm up
pedaling up and down a hard packed service road in the park I mixed riding with mingling
then took my position on the line with the rest of the Clydesdale Class

at the line there was a pleasant exchange between the members of the big boy class
there was the usual banter as we all battled our pre-race demons

at 6:55 the race began with a staggered start
the Clydesdales stood back and watched the other categories get released in front of us
the expert men... the expert woman... the sport men... the sport women
and then finally... the Clydesdales

the race start began with the same routine as the week prior
the sport woman start off then the Clydesdales hustle to the line
at the line we were told that we have two minutes until the start
the conversations continue
a long minute passed and people started to question how much longer until the start

we were then told that we have a minute counting
in my head with nothing else to focus on I counted slowly to myself
my 30 second count matching the time keeper's count
then 15 seconds... then five seconds

that five second countdown is an intense five seconds
although the race is not decided by the start
everyone wants a good start
everyone wants to leap forward at the sound of gun

in my head I counted down... five... four... three... two... one
that is five... where is the gun? where is the whistle? you said five seconds... it has been five seconds
ah... the words GO!

the race had begun... we were off
the week prior I had taken a position all the way to the right of the gravel road that was a little more hard packed
this week I had decided that such an action was not entirely fair
a few pushes of the pedals and I was regretting my selection on the line

the gravel was deep and my tires were sinking deep
I fought to get momentum
gravel squished under my front tire while gravel got kicked around by my back tire
I struggled to find a spot to put my wheels that would allow me to move forward

my fight to get up the gravel hill was not alone
there were a cast of characters around me
right in my shadow hanging in my blind spot was Barry Quigley
then certainly right behind him was last week's challenger Scott of Blackwater Bikes
not sure who else was where... my main concern was to stay ahead of them
no matter who they may be

I managed to clear this mini climb in the lead ahead of the rest of the pack
onto the service road and onto the singletrack I was in the first position
again... as the week prior... I lessened my intensity after the start
I pulled back the pace and tried to find a groove

as I slowed to make a tight right hand turn on loose dirt I could feel a rider close on my tail

into the woods I could feel fellow Clydesdale Barry Quigley behind me...
right behind me...
although I never glanced back... I knew it was him
I tried to pick up the pace and put some distance between us
no luck

there seemed to be a change in order
although Quigley was hanging strong... I think that Scott of Blackwater Bikes may have taken the second place slot
as I fought to pass the racers in front of me
I could hear Scott working hard to make the pass right after me
I could also hear the squeaks and creaks of his bike that were were present the week prior

again... I fought to try and get some space between me and the racers in front of me

bicycle traffic on the race course at Wakefield can be as draining as the traffic on Interstate 395

each time I fought to get away from the trailing Clydesdales
I tried to make fast fluid passes
passing is not always so easy
while the Sport Woman were all very good about letting me slide by
so many of the Sport Men worked a different option

the Sport Men hear the wheels behind them and then pick up the pace
rather than letting me pass they worked to keep me from passing
rather than slowing and letting me sneak by
they rode fast and furious ahead of me

to be quite honest... there were some Sport Males who may have ridden with more grace and finesse than me
a number of these racers that I wished to pass moved with impressive skill
they arced nice turns
they floated over roots and logs
they launched stylish airs off dirt humps
but... they seemed to forget that I had been released a number of minutes after them and had reeled them in
as pretty as their riding may be
I was looking to move faster

I had moved faster and I wanted to maintain that rate of speed

eventually... these racers let me pass
their pace dropped and I moved forward
some of these guys hung on my back wheel for a number of turns
then drifted back

into lap two Quigley had dropped back
I could hear the squeaks and creaks of Scott of Blackwater Bikes right behind me
he was closer this week than he had been the week prior
my thought that I would be faster on the single speed than the double banger may not have been true

I tried to pick up the pace
I tried to get speed where I could

in the wide open of the powerlines I got stuck behind a Singletrack Catapillar
there was a long line of racers following the pace of Emily of Gripped Racing
passing on this section is not free or easy
I had to accept my place in the queue

I must have put a few feet on Scott of Blackwater Bikes in the woods because I did not hear the creaks behind me
tailing these racers I gave them the word that I would want to pass when the opportunity presented itself

it was not easy
one by one I picked off the racers
before the last 30 yards of red clay before the turn towards the dippity doos I was able to get by the pace leader of that Singletrack Catepillar
with a short hello I leaped past Emily of Gripped Racing

with nothing but open space in front of me I spun the cranks wildly
it felt good for the bike to move
I enjoyed riding at my pace rather than other's

the bike and body were operating as they should
a smile grew across my face as I started to believe that I would win this race
I hustled up the the climb towards the Phase 1 BMX turns
it was tough... I wanted to climb fast... but I had to accept that the climb had tight turns that had to be taken slowly
it was tough to get a good flow up that hill on the single speed

down the BMX turns I started looking forward to the final lap

down the hill and across the creek headed for home
lap three would be a VICTORY LAP

but no... OH NO! HOLLY SHIT!
what was that I had heard
I knew that sound oh too well
crossing the creek... or maybe just before the creek I heard that sound of ROCK TO RIM
that metallic chime that often means SNAKE BITE

across the creek and up the hill I could hear it
the hissing of air escaping my rear tire
back into the woods I tried to hammer forward
it was futile
there was no air in my rear wheel

I had hap-hazardly grabbed the seat pack off my full suspension bike
I was confident that I would have a spare tube, a multi-tool, a pump, and even a Co2 cartridge
but... I doubted the presence of a 15mm wrench

jogging out of the woods
finishing the last lap on foot I called out to people on the trail side for a 15mm wrench
my request brought nothing but blank stares
John Claman and Nick Daniels who had been involved in a 15mm Box Wrench Give Away earlier that day did not lend assistance

to the tent where more racers stood around


I flipped my bicycle upside down
pulled of my seatpack off my seatpost and searched for the 15mm wrench
sure enough... no tool to remove my rear wheel

I went back to begging for a 15mm wrench
time was passing... valuable time was passing...
I was losing time... I was losing my finishing slot... I was not going to finish my race

I saw Scott of Blackwater Bikes and then Sean Chisham pass
my search continued for another minute
then I threw up my arms and gave up
in disbelief that a 15mm wrench did not materialize

it was humbling
it hurt
it frustrated me that my race was ended because of my lack of preparation
a rookie mistake
a mistake that I have made time and time again
a mistake that should not have occurred this time... an error that should not have occurred for a veteran of the sport
a simple slacker mistake

I wanted to leave
I wanted to evacuate
like a spoiled child if I could not have it my way I did not want it at all
it pained me to see the racers pass
it hurt me even more to wait and watch them finish
I clapped and cheered for their efforts on the course
my smiles were not fake... I was happy for them
yet I was angry with myself

the top Three Clydesdales would finish the race learning that they were one slot higher in the queue than they had thought
in the distance I saw the Clydesdales on the podium
it pained me

if life and time permits I will try to return for the following two races at Wakefield

each week the competition gets stiffer
each week people push harder and faster to reach the podium
I too will have to make my approach with no only desire but also intensity and appropriate preparedness


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