7.22.2011

Race Report: Wednesday at Wakefield #4

Race Report: Wednesday at Wakefield #4
Seven Year old Grant's Race

a week prior my car was loaded up with a bike for myself and a bike for each of my boys
it was storming like mad in Washington DC while there was claims that Wakefield Regional Park was bone dry
calls to PVC's Race Director Jim Carlson had me thinking that the evenings' race was still going to happen
so I made the cross town trek to get my boys a little early from camp so that we arrive in time for my sons Dean and Grant could race the 5:30 Trips for Kids Event

as I drove across town the phone rang... yes I answered it... it was Cargo Mike... the race had been postponed
at a stop light I checked my emails... a message on the DCMTB list serve was saying that the race was postponed
it seemed definitive yet it contradicted what I had heard 30 minutes prior
it was frustrating... no one could give a solid source
the information I had received was from Jim Carlson of PVC... I wanted to hear things directly from him
so I tried calling Jim Carlson back
Jim was not answering his phone... on our last conversation all systems were go

accepting the DCMTB message and the call from Cargo Mike to be as good as gospel I brought my sliced watermelon into the camp to share with the kids
they were dodging the rain with a movie... Night at the Museum TWO
the watermelon was a pleasant treat

I was bummed that race four would be postponed... I was ready and wanted to race

a week passed and there was not much ride to speak of
not even cargo bike riding with the kids
not much unicycle riding in the alley
not much involving any pedals other than gas and brake in the car

Wednesday arrived and I loaded the car up again
same routine...
three bikes for three boys
helmets and gear for three racers of various sizes
then of course watermelon

with the car loaded up we drove out to Northern Virginia on Interstate 395
it amazed me how free and easy the HOV lane can be
while the standard lane is so often a parking lot
we arrived with plenty of time to register and get ready

in the weeks prior I had noticed that my younger son had been walking down the first section of single track
so I tried to get him to pre-ride it
there was discussion... there was argument... there was refusal

I did not know what to say
all different ideas were shared
the most basic notion was that I would not ask him to try it if I was not confident that he could do it

sure enough... after several efforts where he locked up his brakes and dismounted we were able to clear this section
but not without some frustration... frustration from parent and frustration from child

as it was getting close to the start time and I feared that older Dean would go so far ahead that I could not retract him and direct him to the line

Grant asked me to ride the race with him
I agreed to ride with him if he agreed to try and ride more of the course

I sent the boys to the line while I went back to the car to fetch each of the boys a water bottle
at the line I gave the boys each a bottle and instructed them each to take a slug
then I had them each swoosh some water around their mouth and then spit it out
everyone was excited to be racing

I wanted them to be well hydrated and their mouths to be moist before hitting the dusty trail
refueling during a race is a tricky task

at the line this week a few of the kids had left their mountain bikes behind and showed up with their unicycles
Dean was excited to see other kids with unicycles

the classes were released...
older kids... then down onto the younger kids...

both Dean and Grant were lined up with the 10 and Under Category
Dean was anxious and excited... ready to race and better prepared for the course ahead of him
Grant... Grant was excited to be racing with Dad
while Dad was not sure if he could be supportive without sounding too critical of his seven year old son

then it happened... the race started
Dean took off with the faster fitter ten year old boys
while dad started with young Grant
on the flat gravel road I could see that Grant was in too low of a gear... immediately as we raced for the "hole shot" Grant was already losing spaces

all instructions to switch gears were ignored

then onto the technical section that we pre-road Grant rode
slow and steady Grant cleared the rooted section
but somehow he crashed before the tight hairpin turn
off the bike and into the prickers

GRANT WAS DOWN but hopefully not out

we tried to step out of the way so another parent-child race couple could pass

then Grant was on the bike and riding

the gear that was too small for the flats was pretty good for the technical sections

Grant muscled his way over the stream crossing and then up the little hill
on the man made rock section onto the boardwalk I instructed young Grant to try and pick up the pace
explaining that momentum would made it easier to ride over the rocks

the scale of the rocks to his diminutive tires on his rigid bike were too much for him
he was off the bike and ran in to the board walk
then back on and pedaling
nice technique... that dismount remount is great practice for the approaching cyclocross season

into the woods and more man made obstacles
rocks that have become difficult for adults can be real difficult for the smaller children
Grant hammered through
the easy gear was a good gear

seeing my son ride made me proud
sure it frustrated me when he dismounted and walked down the next little hill
but I tried to be patient
I tried to remember that he is only seven years old

better to be cautious and safe than reckless and injured is what I tried to tell myself

back on the bike I watched as Grant selected a good line
when Grant started to coast I told him to pedal
when we approached any sort of incline I cheered for him to pedal harder
he was really doing well

out of the woods and into the open section I would have liked Grant to shift gears
but I accepted that if he were to switch gears now... I may not be able to get him to switch gears later
so... I watched as he over spun and coasted the course

ahead I could see the parent child duo that had passed us on the first section
I told Grant that if we worked a little harder we could catch and pass that racer
this logic worked with Grant
Grant worked a little harder and we started to close that gap

it was not immediate
but it did happen
just as we had been passed during our mishap
we capitalized on their mishap

Grant and I talked as we rode
as we approached the top of the power lines Grant told me that he never rides this rock section
which was understandable... I have a hard time clearing that section
then I tried to fuel Grant by telling him that I knew he liked the roller coaster just ahead

it was really a joy to be on the bike
accepting his pace
marveling at his effort
witnessing his understanding of the whole experience around him

we had gone from chasing to being chased
Grant knew this and did not let his pace drop
down the hill and through the stream I was pleased to see Grant ride up the hill that he marched the year prior
then followed him into the woods

the course was winding down and we knew it
we crossed the line and there was a good feeling shared between us
off to the side off our bikes I told Grant that I was proud of how well he rode
then he hugged me
Grant hugged me so strong and so tight that our bodies were like one
at that moment... I felt I had done something right



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