words about Wakefield... W@W! (race report W@W One)

Here it is Thursday... a week and a day since W@W#1
I started this report but never finished it
wanted the results to be posted
was thinking a photo or two would surface
then time passed and details faded with importance
well... the results were posted and I wrote this much
so... I will give it a glance and share what I got

PVC W@W Race Results for Week One

Last week was Potomac Velo Club's Wednesday at Wakefield... more than likely I do not need to give any history to this event because the only people interested in reading any further are more than likely past or present participants in the mountain bike summer training series called Wednesday at Wakefield.

So... here it goes...

Well... last Wednesday was day one of this four race summer training series.  Just like summer itself this day crept up on me. A few weeks prior I ordered a Niner Single Speed from The Family Bike Shop... fingers were crossed that the parts would arrive and the bike would be built in time for this race. As it turns out, as expected, all the parts had not arrived... which had me in a panic for a minute then I realized I was fine... my geared Rip Nine is tuned and ready to race.

On Tuesday I spent a good part of the day prepping the bikes... not my bike, but my boy's bikes. Dean and Grant were going to be racing in the kids race at Wednesday at Wakefield. Each of the boy's bikes needed some TLC... maybe more than air in the tires and lube on the chain. Some time ago the shifter on Dean's bike started to become less than effective and I was not sure about the braking on Grant's bike. So I dug through my parts bin and tried to find something that worked to make these bikes trail worthy again. Sure enough I had a nice two finger Sram V-brake lever and an XT 8speed rapid fire shifter for Dean and and XT V-brake set for Grant.

The repairs were as difficult as expected. I had to bastardize a multitude of v-brakes to get two working sets... and there were multiple XT 8 speed shifters... it was not clear if any of them would work. Parts bins should be working parts and broken parts should go into the trash! I fear that my parts bins are more trash than parts.

After a good amount of time getting things working as they should for the boys I got a chance to take a look at the Rip 9. It shocked me and stressed me out to see the race number still on the bike from the Greenbrier Challenge. That race was months ago... with the Rip Nine as my only working mountain bike I was disgusted to think it had been that long since I had been on dirt. The disgust was quickly out weighed by stress. I was about to race my mountain bike when I had not mountain biked in months.

Racing stresses me out. I try not to think about it. So I convinced myself that I had some time on some dirt on one crusty single speed or another. Either way the geared Niner was in the stand... this bike needed little more than air in the tires and lube on the chain. Anxious about the boys part replacements I grabbed one of those crusty single speeds and had the boys get on their bikes. We went for a late afternoon urban ride. It is not often enough that we ride just to ride. Actually, it is hard to get the boys to ride just to ride. So this ride, like most any other ride was a ride with a purpose. With the frisbees in the bag we were taking a less than a direct route to Malcolm X Park.

Our route through the city involved going from small urban park to small urban park. Each of the parks selected had a small series of stairs that the boys could ride down. It seemed logical for my kids to get some technical practice before racing at Wakefield. I blame myself, the boys have not been doing much mountain biking. Spring is so often absorbed with soccer that we do not get on the bike enough... and getting the bike on dirt even less.

Wednesday evening came along pretty quick. It was time to get in the car and boggie before I had time to slice the watermelon.

In the car... one bike on top and two dangling on the rack off the back and we were in the Honda Element fighting through city traffic to get on Interstate 395.  The day was hot and as it got later it was not getting any cooler. With the AC cranked in the car I instructed the boys to hydrate. I passed bananas and a Honey Stinger Waffle back to the boys... EAT! Out of the city and onto the bridge and in the HOV Lane we hustled our way to Wakefield Regional Park in Northern Virginia. The trip was not without its own traffic. The city was already suffering Rush Hour congestion an hour before the whistle blows... and then on the highway those not able to get into the HOV lane were stuck cruising at a snails pace. With the boys in the back I saw what I believed to be Pooch in one car and RickyD in another... I did not celebrate their situation.

With a little time to warm up I sent the boys off on their bikes as I went to the registration table. Friends and familiar faces were all around. Anxious to get the obys set up I signed the waivers, paid my money, and got three sets of numbers; Ten and Under, 11-12, and Clydesdale. The boys returned quickly which is better than me having to search the woods for them. We returned to car for a final opportunity to hydrate. Numbers went on the bikes as the boys chugged some Gatorade. We rode down to the Kid's Start Line. When we got there things were setting up... kids were setting up their bikes for a LeMann's style start. Dean set up his bike and walked down the jeep road with the other 11-12 year olds. While 8 year old Grant would be running with the ten and under group.

With a Whistle, a Scream, a shot from a gun? I can not recall. The 11-12 group was released. Dean was running shoulder to shoulder with a handful of other boys and girls and quickly on his bike. By the time Dean and the other racers were on the singletrack alongside the creek Grant was running to his bike with the 10 and Under group.  It as a big group that did not thin out.... the kids ran fast and furious like an angry mob. Everyone getting to their bikes and nearly the same time. The younger kids took the same path over the bridge and man made stone pathway that leads into the singletrack.

With the young racers on their bikes I grabbed my bikes and took off for the woods where I could find a spot where I could cheer for my boys. I felt naked without my camera. Although it is good to be without the camera... as it is good to experience things face to face rather than behind the lens.  I STILLED WISHED I HAD MY CAMERA! Cheering on my boys is my primary objective even with the camera around my neck. I took to the woods. Instead of my usual spot I though I could catch them sooner. But when I got to my location I could tell I had missed my older son, so I moved to a spot where I thought I could see one and then a bit later the other. It is hard to recall... days have passed.... did I see them both several times? did I not see my older son? how many times did I see my younger son that I clearly saw more than once? It is all a blur... I now recall riding the powerline section with my younger son Gratn, but did not chase him onto the dipty doos or into the woods, instead I went and waited for him and cheered for him as he crossed the creek.

My boys are at home at Wednesdays at Wakefield. Dean and Grant have come to know both the course and the competitors...  I mean their friends or at least fellow riders.  The boys finished and gathered on or around the gravel mound... usually I bring a cooler to this spot... but hesitated that they would not be there long with the kid podium placed near the adult finish on the upper gravel road.

It was important for me to make sure the boys were all set and covered before I started focusing on myself. The boys would need to hydrate and if possible... eat something. They refused everything offered. The free HONEST TEA at the finish seemed to be enough for them at the moment. This gave me more time since I did not need to slice the watermelon. Even the Capri Suns were rejected.

There was not that much time until the start time, there had been plenty of time. But that time did not involve a warm up... which was fine... because warming up is not entirely my thing. Anxiety was all around me. I had no idea what to expect of my body. I had no idea what to expect of the competition. I had signed up early and was the first name on the list. Never did it occur to me to check for the list of pre-registered racers. I guess knowing would not change anything. Then it happened... I saw a familiar face... a familiar form... not Scott Young... but Robert Georgantas.

I got hit with a mixture of emotions when I saw Robert... good to see him...not good to see him... Robert would be pushing the pace... Robert is always pushing the pace!

Robert and I exchanged hellos and then we eat peeled away to spin the bike and warm up the legs. 

WIth nothing more than a few ups and back on the double track jeep road and a little time on the sandy trails of the creek trail and I was at the line. Along side of Robert Georgantas I tried to get an idea of the competition. I was there to play. There were all sorts of familiar Clydesdales from years prior. Some who were not to be so worried about, a handful of people that I remember nipping at my shadow, and then a few unknowns... I tried to respect the unknowns as well as any other potential contenders. But... more than anything I was focused on Robert.

The race officials released each class with a short time gap between each group. After the Sport Woman were released it was two minutes till the start of our race... the Clydesdales would be released last. We waited. I hate waiting. One last sip of water.... some deep breathing.... a glance at the loose gravel ahead... an inaccurate countdown along side the countdown of the official... and some more time to stress.

Two minutes... one minute... thirty seconds... fifteen seconds... five seconds... GO!

Wakefield has a classic start... there is a short fifty yard mad dash on gravel to a short twenty yard loose gravel climb... that feeds onto a hard packed road that dips into a short downhill singletrack section that crosses a creek and starts the race. There is man made stone boardwalk and wooden bridges that lead into the singletrack. It is good to be the first bike into the singletrack. Wakefield is a tough place to pass.


The Niner Rip Nine is one hell of a bike... it may not be the bike for me... but it is a fantastic bike... if only I knew how to harness its potential. My out of the saddle style of hammering may not be the best riding style for a full suspension bike. In some ways I feel that this is not just the wrong bike for me... but the wrong bike for the course at Wakefield. But... the bike is dialed in... and I am on it... so... I am letting it RIP!

On the flat leading to the gravel climb Robert is a bike length to my left... I am looking for solid ground to put my tires. I find a line. As we start the hill I hear words to my left. There is a rider there... I try not to squeeze him out. I find a good line and get out of the saddle. I hammer up the hill. I cross the crest of the hill just ahead of Robert... we sprint for the hole shot... I win it. I am in the lead leading into this first stretch of singletrack. I bring my speed down and try to recover from that first effort. There are a few tight turns that have loose earth and could easily be over cooked. I bring it back into control and accelerate across the creek and then hustle towards the stone boardwalk and wooden bridges, entering the woods in first. Robert is in my shadow and pushing the pace. My usual effort to put in a fast lap and build a gap on the other Clydesdales will not work here. My usual effort to make some fast aggressive yet polite passes will not work here.

Robert and I pass a number of Sport Women.  We are moving at an impressive clip. The bike and body are feeling good. I am in it to win it... but so is Robert Georgantas. I try to muscle up a short winding section. I try to groove fluidly on some turns. Nothing will shake this racer out of my shadow. Whatever I try to do... is matched. 

In the pre-race conversations I learned that Robert has been training with Chris Eatough as his coach. A bit of a mismatch for this dad racer who does most of his riding at the pace of his 8 year old son. I try not to let this factor into my game. There is not much conversation. We are moving at a pace above a comfortable conversation pace. But we do share a few words here and there. Robert comments on claiming to be off the bike... I clarify... I have been off the mountain bike... but have been riding my road bike. Not race training, but some decent short mid week mid day efforts... nothing as intense as this... but I have not been entirely off the bike.

Laps One, Two, and Three play out pretty similarly. It is a two man race. I am trying to control the race from the lead spot, while Robert tries to control the race from my shadow. Every time Robert tries to attack I try to match him. We are moving at a pretty excellent pace for the first two laps, then on lap three I try to slow things down a bit. An effort to prepare myself for Robert's attack. I try to anticipate where he may try to pass me and match it. Where ever the trail widens I feel him try to slip by and I sprint with him to prevent him from getting in front of me. 

It was intense... so intense that I was not able to hydrate durning lap two or three. I feared that fumbling for my water bottle would be just the thing that Robert was waiting for. So I dealt with a dry crust of dust on my tongue and throat. It was the last quarter of the race and I tried to think where Robert was going to make his move. I thought about the final yards to the finish and I thought about the the mini switch back after the last creek crossing.

I knew that Robert wanted to finish first... I just could not get where he would make his move.

One lap two I had tried an alternate line on that mini switchback past the last creek crossing. I thought about which line was most effective... most effective for getting up that little hill faster and most effective for blocking the pass.

Then something weird happened. With all the focus on the one and two spots... Robert and I had forgotten that there were another dozen Clydesdales in the race. Sure enough... we had slowed down enough for the number three guy to catch up in the final hundred or so yards. On this little mini switch back there was a switch from one... two... and three. We shuffled for a second. Then sorted things out. I managed to get back in first... Robert managed to maintain second... and third got pushed back to third. 

We nearly bobbled the race... we muscled and hustled those last final turns and then crossed the line ONE-TWO-THREE! seconds between us... not enough space to put a bike between each racers. HOLY SHIT! What a race! It felt good... I was spent.... I put it on the course... I left it on the course! It was a good effort and it paid off! The bike and the body held up and did what it was supposed to do. Tactically I managed to control the race. I won the hole shot and managed to fend off any of Robert's efforts to pass.

Robert and I rode as if we were on a four wheeled tandem. The whole race... all three laps. We rode together for so long that the wind chime sounds from his disc brakes sounded like they were coming from my disc brakes. It was good racing. I felt depleted at the race's end. 

It was a good day at Wednesday at Wakefield. I went and checked on the boys... they were were still having fun, but ready to go. I loaded up the car. No more socializing... missed the podium... was pleased to hear that the boys did not need to stop for dinner. With the car loaded we pointed for home. In the car we exchanged tails from the trail. It was smiles all around. Wednesday at Wakefield is a summer highlight every summer! THANKS PVC for putting on a great event!

PVC aka Potomac Velo Club


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