RACE REPORT: 2011 WISP XC Challenge

days have passed since race day...
the details are starting to fade along with the passion for telling the story of the day
I started something so I will try to finish it...
let me glance at it and see if I can tighten it up and then finish it from where I left off...

where to start?

do I rant on about my bike-less life style? do I talk about the only riding in my life is on the Franken-bakfiet with my boys?
do I go on about how I have only ridden my Rip Nine once since the West Virginia State Championships last August... (well other than a quick spin at Rosaryville last Tuesday to test out the feeling of riding TUBELESS)
or should I talk about the weather and
the drive up?
okay... all of the above!

yes I know... the image above may steal some of the mystery of the results of the day... but there still
may be a story to tell
... just maybe

RACE REPORT: 2011 WISP XC Challenge
this weekend past I bypassed the 12 Hours of Lodi Farms for alternative race option
as much as I love the 12 Hours of Lodi Farms with all of its tight twists and tight turns I decided to take my bike and my body elsewhere and try something different

a few months back I had some email communication with fellow Clydesdale JR Petsko of Appalachian Bicycle Racing Association (ABRA) about this event he was throwing at WISP...
it sounded tempting... so I signed up and committed myself to the task...

signing up for this race was something that I forgot... well... I had not forgotten... I just forgot the date
so when DCMTB started to build allegiances and for teams for Lodi Farms I linked up with Wheaton and Scardaville for a three man squad... but had to bail out once I realized I had double booked myself

so... I backed out of my LODI commitment and focused on WISP as the date approached
Dreading the sub three hour drive I tried to see if anyone local was interested in driving up with me...
there was the internal debate about whether to drive up the morning of or to head up the night prior to the event
as the date got closer there had not been a decision either way until I got word from my neighbor and friend Chris McGill that he was heading up to WISP as well

it was agreed that we would carpool... it was decided by Chris that we would leave in the am the day of and get there with plenty of time for the noon start

early Saturday morning on
race day in the AM I met Chris McGill in the alley behind his Mount Pleasant house
my Niner Rip Nine was cleaned and tuned with the tires dialed in with Tubeless Technology thanks to my friend and father of four Chris Merriam
the tires were inflated to an untested guestimation of 28PSI in the front and 30PSI in the back
that is... if and only if the gauge on the pump I was using was correct

along with the bike bags were packed with what I would soon prove to be insufficient gear and a shortage of water bottles
the car was loaded with efficiency by Chris because this is what he does every weekend during Spring, Summer, and Fall...
with Chris McGill at the wheel we pointed out of the city and drove west

it was good to catch up with Chris... although we live down the block from each other our very different lives keep us from much more than passing hellos

the drive gave us plenty of time to catch up and solve the problems of the world
after a few stops on the drive from DC to Deep Creek Lake we found ourselves at WISP resort
our 2.5 hour drive under clear skies and sunshine changed as Chris parked his van along side his old friends and racing family The Shogrens
black clouds rolled in as the winds blew away the warm air
what was a beautiful day quickly turned into something else

cold air... icy rain... and then large pellets of hail came from the sky
everyone ducked for cover and scrambled for proper cold weather gear
as it turned out the arm warmers and long sleeve jersey were still in my basement along side of my
water bottles and who knows what else
this shortage of gear brought anxiety

the change in the weather brought a change in the enthusiasm for racing
seconds prior there had been an elated anticipation... the cold mountain wind with its minute long hail storm removed that positive emotion and brought anxiety and dread
it was less than thirty minutes til race time and I was feeling less than ready
I suited up... without arm warmers or my long sleeve DCMTB jersey I settle for my short sleeve DCMTB jersey with a DCMTB wind vest

the race number was pinned to the exterior of my vest sealing the deal as that layer being my top layer

with some assistance from Gunnar I was able to score two water bottles
it pays to know someone who knows someone
I filled one bottle with water and put on on the bike and the other was filled with Gatorade and left at the Start-Finish line that I would pass after the first lap
then to compensate for lack of fitness I filled a hammer gel flask with half Gatorade and half Red

not being sure if my McDonald's Egg McMuffin and Sausage Biscuit with Egg breakfast would be enough to get me around the course two times I ate a Cliff Bar... then as back up I stored some energy gels in my shorts
Clydesdales can get hungry... noon starts cut into lunch time

with a few minutes before the start I did a quick ride around the parking lot
not really having a warm up as part of my routine I rode around trying to piece together the start of the race
I rolled down the first couple hundred yards of the course to get an idea of how things would start then regrouped a few seconds late for the pre-race meeting
by this time the mountains had removed their wintry fury and there was a little more warmth to the air
enough warmth that I questioned if I would need the vest after all... but having already pinned the number I was feeling pretty much committed

the Experts and Pros took to the line for their three lap race...
I lined up in the front of the pack with the two lap Sport Racers...
and the single lap beginners gathered behind us

there was a short Prologue to spread things out before the downhill that started the race course proper

the Expert-Pros were released... I watched the path that took to have a better understanding of what to expect
anxiety engulfed me
I looked around me to get an idea of what to expect...
honestly... I had no idea what to expect of the day...
not sure what to expect of my bike... my body... the course... or the competition

I made small talk with a racer who appeared to be a Clydesdale just to my left
then tried to get a grasp of who else was a Clydesdale... before I could nail down if the guy in the orange jersey was a Clydesdale it was one minute to the start
my heart rate accelerated
I worked on my breathing to try and control my rapidly accelerating heart

at each alert of the time to the start I tried to count down in anticipation of the release
I worked on just breathing

breathing and fighting the false start

still trying to slow my heart rate
still trying to breath...
breathing should not be so hard

not sure if it was as whistle... a gun... or the words GO!
but the race started
on loose gravel there was the sound of tires kicking up stones and cleats clipping into pedals
the may be Clydesdale in the Orange jersey took off like a jack rabbit
others chased... I too joined in on the chase

I thought if that guy is a Clydesdale I better start racing now... or else I will be racing for 2nd Place!

unsure of the bike... the body... and the course I questioned my effort to chase this jack rabbit in the orange jersey
the prologue was short... just a few minutes... if that

a little bit up towards a chair lift then looping back down towards the course proper
onto the course things flowed fast downhill on some double track... I passed a few people with easy, space, and respect
knowing that there was a slight right as we crossed the road I slowed my pace as I rolled over a large hump
across the road and back on the trail
a wide path of loose earth with no definite sign of a fast compact line

at this point I was just a few slots from the leader
I worked to pass the racers in front of me
I worked to keep this orange jersey in sight

the unfamiliar course offered up all sorts of tricks
it was never clear how fast I should go
it was never clear how fast I could go
I tried to race smart...

as expected... as it often happens... I rolled fast and then was forced to break hard just as I started to get some speed and some comfort on this loose earth downhill the course took a hard right hand turn

I braked hard... I over cooked the turn a bit but did not lose momentum completely

the course was unfamiliar and this was visible in my rapid acceleration and panic braking paired with my foot out of the pedals to make a number of solid 90 degree turns
early in the race I was able to pass everyone in front of me except for the jack rabbit in orange
although this racer was still within sight... he was never close enough that I was able to rip off what line he had selected
this had me guessing what would be the smart line

in sight was good enough... I was not trying to catch him... I was just trying to keep up with him
the pace was solid... I was not trying to push things any harder
it was a hard course there was lots of climbing
although it may not have been rock garden technical... where it was not technically demanding it was physically demanding
the double track jeep roads had their fair share of mystery mud bogs
everything was ride-able... on both laps I did take a cyclocross dismount remount on a questionable stream crossing
which got a giggle from a child beginner who was racing in West Virginia ski pants (blue jeans)

luckily I was able to select solid lines through most of these obstacles
the course was a mixture of double track jeep roads... fire roads... twisty single track in the woods... most of which seemed to be going up!
which made sense
the course started with a short fast loose rock downhill...
and... what goes down... must go up again...
at least in bike races with the Start Finish at the top of the mountain

it is all a mystery
I have not been riding much
not commuting... not riding in the woods... not much more than the rides with my kids and then an occasional loop in Rock Creek Park or the Capital Crescent Trail

there has been nothing to test the legs
no chasing Cargo Mike in the woods at Schaeffer Farms,Rosaryville, or Fountainhead on the Single Speed
no trying to follow MikeK's lines at Patapsco or Gambril on the Niner Rip Nine
not much more than riding the Franken Cargo Bike with the kids

this made it all a bit of a question mark...
how would my body perform?
then there was the question of tire pressure... tire pressure is always a bit of a riddle to me... but on this day I would be racing with TUBELESS

not knowing the first lap and when it would end made the first lap feel sort of long
when it was over and lap two started... I had the feeling that I still had some gas in the tank
although I felt there was some gas in the tank I was also starting to feel the course
no threat of cramping... but I could feel the climbs
the course was hard... did I mention that the course was hard
I spent more time in the Granny Gear than I usually do... but then again... this is a full suspension bike and these machines do not respond the same way a hard tail would

early in the start of the second lap I got passed by one racer and then another
neither were Clydesdales
I cheered them as they passed
although I felt pretty okay... I did not feel as if I had the strength to contest the pass

the Jack Rabbit in Orange was no longer in sight
it was clear that the only way I would catch this racer would be if his pace dropped
because my pace was not going to pick up

the second lap rolled by with a little less stress than the first lap
being a little more confident of what was around each turn felt good
having selected some decent lines on the first lap I tried to repeat things as I did before
which meant that I over cooked a few turns by accelerating too hard and then braking too hard
and I also repeated that same foot off the pedal for the hard right hand turns
yes... even that same straight down the hill panic stopping in the tape as I missed that hard right turn

as the second and final lap started to wind down for me I looked ahead at the two racers who had passed me earlier in the lap
they were within view... I could see them and they could see me
I questioned my legs and the distance between them and the distance to the finish
in my mind I calculated whether or not I could catch them

they were out of reach... I knew if I accelerated that hey would just accelerate with me
I accepted my placement
still working hard
but not trying to go hypoxic

the final lap wound down... the climbing continued
I pedaled my way back up the side of the mountain and crossed the finish

it felt good
the bike and body held up
I had performed beyond my personal expectations
my over all performance was strong... much like racers often feel I felt as if I could have done better
I had some frustration about letting the other racers pass me
but I realized that there are times when it is important for me to "race my own race"
my pace was strong but not abusive to my body
that said... my legs did hurt
going up and down stairs that afternoon and the following day gave me an indication of my effort

I asked it the man in orange was a Clydesdale... he was not... that had me finishing first in the Clydesdales

across the line I went back to the car and changed out of my DCMTB superman suit and got into civilian gear and grabbed my camera
there was beer at the finish... it tasted good

I cheered as the racers finished and snapped a few photos
got to hang out with some of the fast cool kids because I had arrived with Chris McGill
after the awards I tagged along with Chris, Gunnar, and Betsy for Pizza
where I got to have a pleasant Mother's Day meal with Gunnar's Mom (and dad)
then Chris and I drove back to the city
where again... we got to work on solving the problems of the world

Results for ABRA's 2011 WISP XC Challenge
more images from the event on the GWADZILLA Facebook page

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