8.11.2013

Liberty Jamboree Number TEN!


above photo by Lee
other photos to follow... I am sorry for not crediting the photographer
forgive me... I should be more respectful
as I am often agitated that people do not give me photo credit when they use my images

The Liberty Jamboree
a week has passed and I have yet to finish this post about The Liberty Jamboree
I am going to find it hard to find any details
so much is forgotten
so much is a blur
so... I will give a glance to what I have written and I will have to just hit PUBLISH AND POST

previous mentions of The Liberty Jamboree







 Last weekend Jim Casey and his wife Amy invited a colorful cast of cyclist to invade Amy's parent's country house just north of Baltimore in Libertyville for the 10th Annual Liberty Jamboree.

What is the Liberty Jamboree? 

The Liberty Jamboree is a one day single speed mountain bike stage race. The event starts and ends at mountain biking WUSS* Jim Casey's inlaw's house. Points are awarded to the top five finishers in each stage. The winner of each stage gets to wear the yellow leader's jersey. At the end of the day there is a single hand of Black Jack to determine the overall winner for the day. The points earned by placing in each stage decides how much each racer has to bet at the Black Jack table. Oh yes, in addition to earning points by placing each stage there is a pink flyer hidden off trail on each stage, this pink flyer is called a "punk or an outlaw" A punk earns as many points as a stage victory. The "punks" are coveted... it is not uncommon for racers to try and "steal" the pink flyers from their opponents throughout the race. 

The stealing of the pink flyers has a fun yet menacing tone to it.

 Perhaps a glance at the above links makes more sense than me trying to describe things any further. 

Let me just try to recount some of the events of the day...



Last year at the Liberty Jamboree I had a strong showing... it played to my advantage that some of the local heavy hitters were not in attendance  My placement in each of the stages was high. I scored a good number of points through racing\riding hard. Then I also scored some points by getting my hands on a few of those pink flyers. It is hard to recall how I got them, but I don't recall finding them pinned to any trees. The combination of those points from riding, racing, and stealing had me sitting at the Black Jack table looking pretty solid. 

At the end of the Black Jack game I was king for the day! I was the winner of the Liberty Jamboree! THE YELLOW JERSEY WOULD BE MINE FOR THE YEAR TO FOLLOW! I got to bring the jersey back to Washington DC... where I quickly put it in a zip lock freezer bag and tucked it into my basement freezer to go unseen until the eve of this year's Liberty Jamboree.
The night prior to the event I prepped my bike and packed my gear. Realizing that I had earned the right to wear the Yellow Jersey for the opening stage I thought it best to do more than just thaw the jersey. I hung the jersey by the dehumidifier for the night. 

The Liberty Jamboree is a summer highlight for me. I am not certain how many "jamborees" I have attended... but I can say that had so much fun at the first event I attended I promised myself to make a mental note and put this on my mental calendar for each and every summer that followed. 

Well, as much as I look forward to this event... it was approaching this day with a certain degree of hesitancy. Demons? Malaise? DeMotivational Syndrome? 

Yes, Demons. Demons of Malaise!

I was not feeling it... I have been enjoying mountain biking... but have not been doing much racing. And honestly... I have a bit of a black cloud looming overhead that was causing me some hesitation. To aide in getting motivated I thought about who I could partner up with to drive to the race. Cargo Mike is in Poland. Tony Barisa is not on my speed dial. Then who?

I was the only person from Washington DC headed to the event. I was the only member of my mountain bike team DCMTB headed to the event. This would have me driving up solo. It is always more fun to go on an adventure with a friend rather than making things happen alone.

It is less eventful approaching the event alone... planning alone... driving alone... arriving alone. For a second I considered bailing all together. But, having possession of the yellow jersey gave me a certain level of commitment to attending. So... I did not have to battle my demons... I just had to show up.

The bike was prepped... the bag was packed... my alarm was set... food and drink were set aside and ready for me to fuel up on the drive. I took it easy the night prior because I am old and boring. Just hung out and drank a few beers at home alone because I am old and boring without anyone to hang out with. Not even my kids... the kids are visiting their grandparents for the week... which has me acting out the adult version of "Home Alone." 

The morning came fast as it often does. I woke up on time but was slow out to get moving. Like a robot I stepped into the morning routine. I made some coffee and walked the dog. Time was moving fast and I was moving slow. It was getting late and I was frustrated that I was not already in the car. Guess I should not have hit that snooze bar so many times... even if it did feel good to hug the pillow for those few extra minutes.


Eventually the car was loaded up and I was pointed out of the city. Not rolling by the time I had wanted to leave... but leaving with ample time to get to the event.

Not far into my drive and I stopped at Einstein Bagel in Silver Spring. Oh man... the pleasure of an everything bagel with sausage, egg, and cheese. It was a good start to my day. Then after the bagel I went for my banana... I brought two bananas... but the bananas had been sitting next to my ice cold Camelback bladder. The bananas were not entirely in tact... the banana peels were brown, cold, and crushed; leaving the interior of the banana with a baby-food like consistency. This was more than cared to endure. I bypassed the bananas and grazed on some granola bars as I tried to get myself hydrated before what can prove to be a long day on the bike.

Then I finished my coffee... I definitely could have used more coffee. I can always use more coffee... well... until the point where I have clearly had too much coffee.

The drive was virtually traffic free. There were plenty of cars on the road, but there was no blockage of any sort... it was a mellow cruise up Route 29 out of town. 

The route has become moderately familiar. Not so familiar that I would be confident to make the drive without some sort of written instructions of Smart Phone GPS... but familiar enough that I was not at risk of getting lost.
 I arrived before the slated start time; not early but not late. IT WAS PACKED! There were more cars taking up more space than of each of the years I had previously attended. People were swarming around on bikes while others were scrambling to get ready. I found a spot for my Honda Element along side another Honda Element then started scrambling myself. 

The Liberty Jamboree is a gathering of friends and familiar faces. It is an invite only event where anyone can invite who ever they care to invite. Each year the event gets larger. This year appearing to be the largest yet. Go figure.

Not only were the numbers greater than the year prior... the level of competition was also higher.  A quick glance around as I drove down the driveway looking for a space I had seen... Joe Whitehair... Jonathan Seibold... Nick Daniels... Batbayer... Todd Bauer and a few others who were faster, more fit, and better handlers than myself. These fast sets of wheels were not in attendance last year. This would make it more of a challenge to break the top five. It would be more than me and Brad Hawk dueling it out.

In an effort to not be the guy that everyone is waiting for I hustled to get ready. By the time I was fully kitted up I was pleased to see that others were just arriving. Once everyone seemed to be ready to ride Jim Casey grabbed the mic and started the pre-race meeting.

There was a short explanation of what to expect. Then the need to present the yellow jersey. At this point I was in my DCMTB kit... I will admit... I was not excited about putting on the Yellow Jersey... a jersey that has not been washed since its first Liberty Jamboree some years ago... a jersey that carries the sweat, the blood, and maybe the DNA of a wide assortment of riders.  Per ritual and request I pulled off the DCMTB jersey and put on the dry yet pungent yellow jersey directly against my skin. 

IT WAS WRONG. THE SMELL WAS SWEET AND A TAD PAST RIPE. 

My eyes went cross as I could not get clean air into my lungs. Because misery loves company I gave Jim Casey a sarcastic hug... sharing not my essence but the pungent essence of the yellow jersey. A light breeze cleared the dank cloud of body odor that engulfed me as I migrated through the crowd back to my bike. There was laughter as I passed as the scent migrated more than a few feet away.

Yes... I stink... but it is not me. I SWEAR! IT IS THE JERSEY NOT ME!
Wearing the yellow jersey gave me mixed emotions of pride, embarrassment, and disgust.

It was comical... it is quite comical.... it is also disgusting and continues to be disgusting.


Bikes gathered as the race marshals took to the woods. This year with the larger group there would be some changes to the race. Normally there is a "parade" to the start of the first stage. Just as there is a bicycle parade from the end of each stage to the start of the next stage. On this day the race would start from Amy's parent's country house whose yard butts up against some dense woods that contain a network of trails that border the McKeldin area of Patapsco. 

We waited. Then with a little jolt and a little surprise there was the release. I looked one way and then another and took off for the singletrack.

There is only one way to place in the top five of a stage at the Liberty Jamboree. That is to start lined up at the front of the pack. Then when you hear the words "go" you GO HARD... and then SPIN FAST... THEN PEDAL HARDER.... and then SPIN EVEN FASTER... and then PEDAL EVEN HARDER!

Everyone is on a single speed... so everyone is frantically spinning to either catch the person in front of them or out run the person behind them. Passing is not free or easy.

I entered the woods first. The course is not entirely marked. There are some people who volunteer as race marshals and stand and point at forks in the path where people would be at risk of taking a wrong turn and then there are pink ribbons along the course on each stage to give racers the indication that they are going the correct direction.  I lead into the woods and took a turn at each race marshal. It was not far into the woods and I was over taken by Todd Bauer on a sketchy technical descent... then on a climb just after that I was passed by Jonathan Seibold... I worked hard to keep pace with the faster and fitter riders. I felt pretty good about matching pace with these superior riders. My heart was racing and my lungs were working hard to find air.  Then we ran out of trail. Our trail ran into a road.  

WE HAD TAKEN A WRONG TURN! WE WERE OFF COURSE!

Jonathan immediately turned around. Todd and I opted to climb the road higher. I thought that the road could take us to the tower at the top of the hill that was the finish of a stage at one of the previous events. Todd reentered the woods at the first opportunity. I decided to follow him. It was not long before I was following Todd's tire tracks rather than his rear tire. I did not want to backtrack... I wanted to find the finish.

It was not long before I looped around a few times without finding anyone else... so I took back to the road and headed back to the country house. Back at the house I thought about heading home... after all... I still had the yellow leader's jersey... this seemed like my only opportunity to get to take the jersey home with me again. But no... instead I talked to Amy and her father if they knew the intended course. They each thought it would make sense for me to try and catch the group at the McKeldin entrance to Patapsco State Park... so... back to the road I pedaled back the way I had come and then rode further on the road. Then on into the park... where I found no one. So... back on the road I pushed further. Trying to guesstimate where they could be.

So I backtracked... not where I had just come from... but I backtracked to where I remember the riders had exited the woods before riding the road to McKeldin.

Not far into the woods I found the group. People were just finishing up the third stage. There were smiles and laughter. Everyone was enjoying the chaos that is the Liberty Jamboree. Too bad I had not gone straight past McKeldin and into the woods... maybe I would have placed on that stage. I turned over the yellow jersey to a more deserving rider. 
Everyone was all smiles... stoke to be riding and racing... I had been wandering around the roads of Maryland aimlessly on my single speed. I was having a very different day than the rest of the riders.  

It was funny... well... funny for everyone else. Less than fun and not quite funny for me. But really... it was not that big of a deal. I shook it off and joined got into line with everyone else.

It was still early in the day and there was plenty of riding to be had. But, the wind had been taken out of my sails. My head was just not right. I had lost before I had even started. I gave the better riders too much respect. If boxers does not enter the ring to win... they best not enter the ring... as they are at risk of getting hurt. Luckily I am not a boxer... because I would have been lying with my back flat on the canvas with canaries swarming around my head.


The Liberty Jamboree is a very different experience to ride rather than race. Going elbow to elbow in the top seven is very different than accepting your place in the single track caterpillar.  Yet... I was resigned to taking my space. I was not a contender .. could I have been a contender?

It did not matter. I dropped my level of intention from racer to social rider.
I lacked the "want" that is necessary to place. My head was just not in it. That said... a social ride has its merits. It amused me to ride these trails at a non-race pace. I recognized many of the stages from years prior. But they seemed longer at a social pace rather than at a sprint race pace. 


The weather was unlike years prior. Last year it rained from start until finish. Years prior to that it was hot... brutally hot. This year it was moderately cool with the threat of rain. The trails may have been a little more damp than we would have liked... but it was a good day to be on the bike.

The race ran its course. The people at the front fought it out with a great mixture of intensity and fun. There were battles not just for first place but also for the "pink outlaws\punks." There is a great lighthearted tone to this day. Smiles all around!

The stages winded down and we raced the final stage that has the ritual of ending at the reservoir. Although it was cool... it was still refreshing to get into the water. The winner of the last stage Batbayar came close to breaking the rule of no taking the jersey into the water... a mistake that Joe Whitehair made a few years ago and will never live down.

After a quick swim we all returned to Amy's parent's house where people were already enjoying the bbq atmosphere. Mountain bike families were in attendance. All sorts of kids were swarming around swinging on the rope swing, playing whiffle ball, and of course... riding bikes.

Food was ready and I am certain I was not the only person who was hungry. People drank the recovery drink of choice, beer. The "unofficial MORE band" played as points were tallied and people socialized. There was the game winning Black Jack game and then the kids' race. Honestly... not scoring any points and not having my kids in attendance had me witnessing these events from the sidelines. 

I ate... drank a few beers... socialized with friends and then loaded up my car and headed for the city. Another Liberty Jamboree in the books. Thanks to Jim, Amy, and Amy's wonderful parents for another great Liberty Jamboree. YES! A SUMMER HIGHLIGHT FOR SURE!

Great to see so many people I do not see enough of!  






WUSS: Washington Underground Single Speed Society

1 comment:

JKC1x1 said...

Thanks for the write up Gwadz, we have a blast putting this event on & it's great to hear the riders perspective. I think it might have been a strategic move by Todd B. to take you out of contention by guiding you down the wrong path on Stage 1 and ensuring DC didn't win for the 4th year in a row!