some words about The Liberty Jamboree

The coveted Yellow Jersey

it has been a week... exactly one week since the Liberty Jamboree
well... now it has been a week and a day then another day and if I don't just give this another glance it will never make the page
so here goes...
the details are a blur... a mud splattered blur
perhaps a glance at the photos shared on FACEBOOK may aid in bringing up something worth sharing
perhaps not
either way... here I go

Me and the host Jim Casey
The 2012 Liberty Jamboree: 
Race Report Liberty Jamboree IX

the Liberty Jamboree is a small gathering of people associated with WUSS
WUSS being the Washington Underground SingleSpeed Society
this event is far from a major NORBA-USCF production... The Liberty Jamboree is a small event of friends hosted by Jim Casey, Jim's wife Amy, and Amy's wonderful parents
there is a mountain bike stage race in the woods just off Amy's parent's property on some trails that link up to the back side of the McCeldan side of Avalon or something to that effect
there is no marked course
it is not red caution tape on the right and yellow caution tape on the left
it is more simple... it is more basic

there are short stages where there are volunteer marshals standing at points where the racers have to turn
there are soft pedal parade pace rides in between stages
the racers regroup at the finish of each stage
each stage is short enough that it is pretty much a heart attack sprint
after the mountain bike stage race there is a bbq 
the last stage usually ends down by the water
which often involves a quick unsanctioned dip
it tends to be a summer highlight for all those lucky enough to attend
The Liberty Jamboree is in its 9th year... I have attended a handful of those years

good fun not just for the people on the bikes... but also for those there just for the bbq 
good group of people and beer
what more could you ask for
classic all american bbq with backyard action including tire swing and temporary kiddie pool
throw in the mountain bike stage race?
it is definitely a highlight of the season

oh yes... of course the kids race... the Shenandoah Mountain 100 of kids races
it is not just fun for old folks on bikes... but also fun for the kids
the kids race that usually draws a big crowd of little people
the kids race also draws tour de france level crowd activity
a good day all around

it is a mellow day with some moderatelyds intense fun on the bike
there is a wonderful blend of competition and camaraderie
my favorite type of rivalries
those in attendance pretty much know each other
if they are not already friends
they are all friends of friends
and by the end of the day... everyone has become friends... or at least friendly strangers

this year the Liberty Jamboree was a little different than years prior
in previous years the event was held in the glorious splendor of heat and humidity that is the East Coast in the summer time
but this year... Mother Nature served up a different set of variables
instead of slugging it out in the hot sticky heat
it rained
being that the event is "rain or shine" we were schedule to meet and race

I will admit... I am not a fan of riding\racing in the rain and the mud
it is not so much the rain or the mud... but the threat of crashing
slipping out on a turn... peeling out on some slicker than cat shit slick roots... losing grip on rocks that are normally grippy causing that inevitable knee to the stem slam... it all gives me a bit of anxiety
as I have crashed and I have been hurt
I do not want to be hurt

so... it is crashing that I hate or all that goes along with getting hurt that I hate... 
o yes... it is also... that I often lack motivation 
everyone knows that rain can steal motivation
so little motivation I have... it is in danger of being poisoned by the rain

additional hesitation came when race day morning had arrived and I woke to a wet world outside

earlier in the week I had tried to enlist someone to carpool with from downtown Washington DC
but... there were no takers
Mike Pearce, aka Cargo Mike, could not attend due to friends coming in from out of town
and DC Tony was set to race The Lost River Classic in West Virginia
that short list pretty much sums up the DC representation
this had me rolling up solo... rolling solo is not as fun as rolling up in tandem

teaming up can increase motivation
rolling solo is often in danger of losing momentum with faltering motivation

there was an issue.. Mike Pearce had won the Yellow Jersey the year prior
and well... I felt a certain responsibility to bring the Yellow Jersey back to the Liberty Jamboree
as the jersey and its essence is a big part of the day
so... although I was driving up solo
I was driving up with a purpose greater than just my attendance
it was my obligation to bring the Yellow Jersey 

I put the Yellow Jersey and drove in the HOV lane
that jersey is ripe and has a life of its own

I woke up plenty early but dragged my feet
my wife Lisa was visiting her parents with the boys
so I shuffled around the house aimlessly
without the activity of my family I woke up later to a quiet house
walking the dog and doing my morning routine without coffee had me moving tortoise slow

without coffee brewed and ready in the kitchen my morning was slower than usual
yes I could make coffee... but I did not

being coffee-less had me moving about as a complete Zombie
morning is not my time... I am a bit of a night owl
late nights can make for tough mornings
I did not go to bed especially early the night prior

I toyed with the idea of Einstein Bagel stop on the way up to grab something to fuel me for the day
but by the time I was heading for the door I realized I did not have time
McDonald's drive throughs on the way were packed with too many cars for me to even consider such poison
luckily I grabbed some left over frozen pizza from dinner the night prior as my race day fuel

and yes... on my way out of town I stopped by Mike Pearce's house and grabbed the Yellow Jersey then drove northeast out of town

the morning was wet... so wet that I put my bike in the car instead of on top of the car
the bike is new
arriving at Pearce's 16th Street apartment just a mile from the White House I expected mention of the void on the bike rack on-top of the Honda Element
and well...
I did not want it it get wet
which is funny... because I would riding the bike in the rain and the mud for the duration of that day
the bike would eventually get soaked
yet I postponed the inevitable 

with my iPhone in one hand and a printed email with directions in the other I drove out to Amy's parent's farm-like house that is somewhere north of Baltimore

anxiety of the day was increased by the dread that I would arrive late and miss the start
the drive was slowed by series of intense downpours that decreased visibility
it was seriously raining... not sheets of rain... but long steady downpours... downpours that let up but did not stop
the directions explained themselves clearly and I felt vaguely family with the final approach
when I pulled into the driveway at the race location I was pleased to see a cluster of cyclists still getting suited up for the day

to my pleasure the rain was causing a slightly later start to the day
people were still arriving
there appeared to be significantly smaller group this year than years prior
so many usually faces were missing
it was nice to see a new group of people showing up to join in on the fun
but the missing faces would be missed

there were many obvious vacancies...
the previous mentioned DC Residents and Jamboree winners Cargo Mike and DC Tony
then there was the absence of Joe Whitehair and so many of the Single Speed Outlaw riders
RickyD was not there wearing something weird and riding something even more weird
yes... lots of people were missing

there were even some people missing who I had spoken to days prior who had said they would attend were not there

there was definitely a shortage of children... my children would not be in attendance... I felt that other families would not attend due to the rain

for some it was the weather
others it was change of plans
no matter the reason... the numbers were down

John Claman was there but marshaled because he could not race with a busted up hand
and Nick Daniels recently dropped some weight, got real fast, and then broke his hip at Fountainhead a day or two prior to the event
and Larry Camp would be leading a kid XC ride in Chambersburg
that accounts for some... but what about the others?

no matter the reason
valid excuse or not
the showing was sparse 
the numbers were low
but the ratio was interesting for a bicycle event

there seemed to be as many woman as men at this incarnation of the Liberty Jamboree

Anne Mader and a handful of ladies from the Bike Lane's Women's Mountain Bike Team drove down showing no fear of the rain or mud
the Bike Lane Ladies were on a mountain bike high from a West Virginia adventure the weekend prior
so a little rain was not going to chase them away

after all....
given the choice between gears or single speed in the mud... there is no question which machine  to choose

okay... I started this... drifted away
now I am back and looking to finish this
still not sure what I am going to say
but I guess that is the pleasure of being and extrovert
I get to hear what I am thinking as I say it

so... it was raining and people were swarming around getting ready
water bottles and hydration packs were being filled as some people cracked open their first beer of the day
people sought shelter in the garage
looking out on the rain soaking the the world in front of them

I looked around at how people were approaching the day
my feeling is that the hydration pack might be 'overkill'
thinking that the cooler temperatures and rain would have me needing less water
also thinking that the pack would weigh a thousand pounds once it got saturated with rain and coated in mud
so... I opted for a water bottle in the cage and riding bareback

then coverage...
I had to consider coverage
I looked around and saw a good number of people wearing rain jackets
although I brought a Gortex-esque rain jacket... I did not think I was going to wear it while I rode
partially because it is so new
but also because I knew that even with its breathability... I would be sweating and soaked so much that I would be just as well without it
so I decided I would ride with my wool MYBIKELAW jersey and no rain jacket

it was a tad frustrating...
I was anxious about my gear selection
it amused me that I have a basement filled with an assortment of cycling vests
but none of them were with me at the time
I thought about all the various combinations I could have made to make the day more comfortable
none of these options were available to me
so I accepted my under gear situation and considered everyone's use of a shell as over gear

people were milling about... catching up... socializing... 
there were a good number of people new to the Liberty Jamboree
thus making the pre-race meeting a little more important
the various stages... the point scoring system... the placement of pink flyers called OUTLAWS on each stage that also earn points... and then the single round of BLACK JACK that decides the winner for the day

when it was all settled up everyone mounted up on their single speeds and did a mellow parade pace into the woods
the rain was coming down pretty good
it was wet... the earth was soaked and soft
it was agreed that the stages of the day would try to stay on higher ground and try to avoid areas where things would be excessively muddy

once again... I have lost momentum... my memory fails me
the details of the day have been washed away
not sure why I am continuing this far

a glance at an email where someone else gave a play by play helps... but not sure if I can go on any further

in the woods we lined up
I followed pretty much the same routine on each stage
on each stage I placed myself somewhere near the front of the racers
on the words GO I pedaled forward fast and furious
this seemed to work

on stage one I was introduced to the potential sketchiness of the day
the first stage sent riders on a moderately steep double track road
choosing a line was as difficult and figuring out the speed
even with disc brakes stopping was not an option
controlled skidding was introduced in panic situations

the first stage was supposed to go to the base of a tower that stands in a tall field where they have cleared the trees
to my favor the climb was cut short by having course marshal and finish line for this stage John Claman got a flat
I would have surely been caught and passed had we trudged forward any further
which gave me the honor of putting on the Yellow Leader's Jersey

the Yellow Jersey from the Liberty Jamboree has rules
these rules give the yellow jersey a little 

okay... sorry
that is all I have
I can not re-read it 
I can not finish the story

in the end the rain was caught by the tree canopy
we were soaked
so the rain was not so bad
rain in the eye was better than mud in the eye
there was plenty of mud in the eye

it was fast fun and sketchy
I got schooled by so many more confident riders
but was able to use the wisdom of old age to gain the points to have me sitting strong going into the post bike ride Black Jack game

as the photos say...
I brought the Yellow Jersey back to Washington DC
next year I anticipate there being a PINK Jersey for the woman
I look forward to seeing who wears the PINK Jersey

previous posts about The Liberty Jamboree and The Yellow Jersey

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