RACE REPORT: Wednesday at Wakefield #1, #2, and #3... but only after reading about Wednesday at Wakefield #4

I think it is time to just hit PUBLISH AND POST
started this... rambled... rambled some more
stepped away... tried to make some edits
but the day is nearly a distant memory and this morning has more pressing things to tend to

it has been a while since I have raced
injury and the responsibilities of adult life stole racing from my priorities
trying to get riding and racing back into my life
Wakefield seemed like a great place to try and slip back into the game

the posts on Facebook after W@W #1 were enough to tempt and taunt me such that I promised myself at least one race at Wakefield

the lure to Wakefield came with anxiety
seeing the podium shots had me wondering about how my fitness and handling would match up
sure... I have been riding
but there has not been much time on dirt

lets and lungs are feeling pretty okay
but the handling ... I will admit... I have never been the most technically advanced mountain biker
my tires stay on the ground... air is not part of my vocabulary
but now... it has been a long time since I have lifted my front wheel

these thoughts created anxiety
racing always brings about a certain level of anxiety

best to just give this a glance and hit PUBLISH AND POST
as I am about to risk repeating myself for a third and fourth time

photo by al green of dcmtb

RACE REPORT: Wednesday at Wakefield #4
Honestly... I am having a hard time starting a race report without knowing my lap times
it is curious... I know how my body felt... I know how the race unfolded
but the lap times tell a different story... a story that involves the comparison of my speed at Wakefield on a Single Speed versus my speed at Wakefield on my squishy geared bike

it does not seem significant
but it is significant
significant to the story 
significant to the events of the day

Potomac Velo Club Results for 2015 W@W

so... I raced three races of the four race series
the first two of my races I showed up on my Ninier Sir Nine with its single speed gearing of thirty two eighteen
at those two races I was able to stand tall on the podium in the number one spot after battling out against the other racers with gears while I over spun my single speed

sure it worked for two weeks... but I doubted that I would be able to race and win a third week in a row against other racers on geared bikes

sure... I won the two weeks prior on the single speed... but I feared that the final race of the series would carry more weight
I felt that the other racers would see this as our last round of king of the mountain
I feared that they would be able to strategize on how to beat the single speed with gears

so... I raced my Niner Rip Nine with its suspension in the front and the rear and its wide range of gears

it had been years since I had ridden this bike
the tires had been flat for sometime
the bike sat dormant in my basement because it was a bike that I reserved pretty much for racing or more technical terrain like Davis West Virginia or The Shed in Frederick... two places I had not visited in years... 
mountain bike races riding had slipped from my priority
just as mountain biking in general had also fell off my things to do list

so... I watched a Stan's  video on Youtube and got my tubeless set up
then I watched a Marzocchi video on Youtube and tried to get my fork set up
the tubeless held air but the shocks?... 
on race day I had Todd Mader of the Bike Lane look at my fork while we caught up by the registration table... Todd put more air in the fork... it seems that the fork pump I used did not give an accurate measure of my PSI

thanks Todd... you and Anne are great and you run a fantastic shop... The Bike Lane Rocks... even if I think that the folks in your jersey are in some sort of cult.... BIKE LANE FREAKS!

The Bike Lane

I was excited to race
the standard pre-race anxiety welled within me
it is always better on the bike
just wanted the race to start

so... after registering I did a little warm up
some up and back on the paved road that acts as the entrance\exit to the park
then I dipped into the Creek Trail away from the race loop to see how the body felt on this bike on dirt
it felt good but unfamiliar

I mixed hellos with my warm up
went to check the log crossing that I did not feel comfortable with the weeks prior
debated the up and over verses the girl scout route path around the log
rode a stream crossing... again I felt less than confident... as the man made steam crossings with their large slabs of rock sort of freaked me out
I feared my front tire getting stuck between the rocks and going over the handlebars

part of my time away from mountain biking and mountain bike racing is due to an injury I had on the bike
an endo that ended with a radial fracture
an injury that involves dislocating my elbow and breaking the head of the humerus
no... that is not funny... painful with a long heal time


time was ticking... it was approaching the race start
it would have been to my advantage to access the gravel hill climb
in the weeks prior I had a weak start
it was important that this week unfolded differently

at the line there were only a few Clydesdales... maybe five total
but really... most races only involve the top five racers
and in this case there was a competitive top three
Julius, Brian, and myself... enough fast legs in the Clydesdale class to have a race
then a few over sized racers to mix things up

at the line we waited as the other classes were release
the Clydesdales always being the last racers to take the course
a questionable format.. as nearly every Clydesdale will have to pass nearly every if not every Women Sport Racer and then also a good number of the back of the pack Male Sport Racers

with everyone on the course we waited another 2 minutes before our release
a minute a half... a minute... thirty seconds... and then a warning at 5 Seconds


I counted in my head and I waited for the words GO
at the words GO I went to push the pedals... the bike did not move... I was stalled in a track stand... it was time to race and I was standing still
with the other racers stalled along side of me 
so much time passed that I uttered the words, "that was another shitty start"
then lurched forward

we raced for the base of the gravel hill
I went wide... foolishly wide...
mistakenly I had thought that there were two fast lines
but somehow there was only one hard packed fast line and it was in the middle
I was stuck in deep gravel slogging slow as my competitors hammered fast up the hill

yes... I should have taken a look at the gravel hill before the race's start

at the crest of the hill I was at the back of our small over sized pack
had their been more racers I would have been further back in the queue
but since the class was small in numbers this week I was in fourth
on the gravel flat I hammered towards the hole shot

on this week it was different... instead of the other racers offering up the hole shot to another racer we all fought for it

Julius entered first... then Brian... then myself
I was in third
not where I wanted to be... but I was racing and I had to get a feel for how I could achieve my goal

my goal of being the first Clydesdale to cross the Finishline
which would put me in the one spot for the day and the series
I wanted it

ONE-TWO-THREE... we were in a line... One Two Three

we had a short three bike single track caterpillar
we moved at a good pace in synchronicity for a few turns
I thought about the race... I thought that we could settle in and I could let them set the pace and then challenge the pace later in the race

then Julius stepped it up a notch
Julius had his own notion about how the race would play out

Julius pulled away
I shouted out to Brian to pick up the pace

"don't let him slip away... catch that tire"

or something to that effect
Brian and I rode a few turns at the same pace
as Julius moved further ahead

being the good sportsman that he is Brian pulled over and let me try to reel Julius in

but... that was more easier said then done
it was more than just a few fast pedal strokes
anywhere I could get speed... Julius got speed
as I looked for Julius ahead I watched as Brian was able to match my pace just a few turns behind

for the first two laps Julius had a good distance on me
racing fast and out of sight for much of this race
when I did see the red and black Trek kit of the Clydesdale in First Place his distance was disturbingly far ahead

I moved fast where I could move fast

on the first two laps I had been technically tentative in a few spots
the unfamiliar geared Rip Nine with its suspension front and rear took some getting use to
this did not help my chase

the Single Speed involves a lot of getting out of the saddle
the double banger with its squish in the back needs to have the racer in the saddle
it is a very different style of riding a geared bike versus a single speed
it is a very different style of racing a geared bike versus a single speed
when lap three came around I was feeling pretty okay
it felt as if I still had some gas in the tank
so I stepped up my intensity

not knowing my lap times has me wondering if I also stepped up my pace
just checked the PVC site... still no numbers... and those number confuse me... are those are lap times or are those are lap times plus the time we waited for the release???

the course at Wakefield is a mixture of tight and winding single track
with a few open sections
but really... there are only a few places to pass
all the racers have to contend with the issue of passing slower racers

in my effort to catch the lead Clydesdale I had to pass an assortment of racers
a number of woman and men in the sport classes
this of course can dictate the pace
seeing those racers ahead I will often slow my pace... knowing there is no need to get my wheel in their shadow
trying to approach their wheel at a place where it would be logical for me to pass

at one point I found myself in the shadow of my friend Joe and Gina's daughter Sagada... as a teenager she is really impressive on the bike... she was hammering pretty good... too fast to easily pass... but not fast enough to catch the lead Clydesdale

we rode together for a number of turns... but at a point where I knew the trail widened I made my request to pass... she allowed it... and I got back to chasing the leader

then on the Creek Trail the lead pony in the Expert Class landed in my shadow
we chatted as I pedaled... he wanted to pass... I wanted to let him pass...
I tried to keep my intensity up
both in an effort to catch the leader of my class as well as not slowing down the leader of a different class

the lead expert was no pushy... he was not demanding that I pull over to allow him to pass... he was comfortable with my slower 
off the Creek Trail and onto the jeep road flat I went tight on the inside allowing the trailing racer to sling shot out of the single track onto the open flat
it was intense to see this racer accelerate and sprint off into the distance
I tried to chase but I could not match is speed for a second, yet I hammered the best my Clydesdale self could
Julius was visible a few turns ahead
I felt as if the gap was closing
only one problem
Julius hammered at speed at the same spots where I hammered at speed
on the out under the power lines I tried to swoosh the curving single track at speed
I did not feel myself getting any closer
but then it happened
on the way back under the power lines I was able to get into Julius' shadow

where to pass? where to pass?
where ever... whenever I tried to pass Julius accelerated
I had the energy to catch him... I had the energy to go faster... but I could not find a spot to make a safe\clean pass
Julius was fighting the pass... I was requesting it... physically he was refusing
if I were in the lead... I would not forfeit lead position either
after all... this is a race

then... on the right hand turn by the towers I gave the warning
"passing on the inside line"
Julius went wide while I tried to shrink small enough to pass on the inside line

out of Julius' shadow I accelerated forward

it was not clear if my pass would be contested
I thought about the final miles of the course and where Julius would try to pass
in the woods former DCMTB expert racer Ian Spivak made a clean pass as he chased the leader in first
I did slow down and tuck myself off trail so that he would not have to slow and would have a good opportunity to try and catch the uncatchable leader

I raced the final miles fast and smart
not trying to risk crashing
trying to move fast forward and not allow Julius to catch me 
feeling a sense of gratification as I started to think that I would win this race
made my last crossing through the XXL Invitational Party... I would have slowed for a "hand up" but they were involved in documenting the moment with a GROUP SELFIE

cheers fueled me as I made the last stream crossing
managed to clear the last little technical section 
then snailed my way across the finishline
gratified that I was able to finish first in my class
pleased that I was able to step up to the challenge of my competitors

it was a rewarding night on the bike
the bike and body held up 
it was not easy... but I did achieve my race goals
the race did not unfold as I had intended but I was able to adapt and fight for the win

a fantastic blend of competition and camaraderie


Thanks PVC, MORE, IMBA, Trails for Youth, and any and all whole volunteer to make this event happen

Wednesday at Wakefield is once again a summer highlight
Bummed I missed this event for the last couple of summer
I will try to attend W@W next summer as well as getting back into mountain biking and mountain bike racing

wish I could have brought my boys for some of the fun
but they were at sleep away camp for a month that overlapped the race series 

another great shot by Al Green

RACE REPORT: 2015 Wednesday at Wakefield

Week One: Had to "bow out" of week number one
I felt the draw, but I could not balance the duties of being a dad

my younger son had travel soccer practice
debated with the notion of having him miss soccer practice and having him attend the race

but there would have been no way for me to leave work early... get the boy from camp... drive out to Wakefield in time for the kids' race
a few months back both Dean and Grant expressed an interest in racing Wakefield this summer
well... some things are more easily said then done
the boys could have made the first race, but they are at sleep away camp on the dates for the following race

I missed race one because of my parental duties

instead I took my dog Didg to Fort Dupont and I rode my bike while he chased behind while young Grant practiced soccer on a field off Ridge Road in that basic area

then over the following days I saw all sorts of mention of Wakefield on the Book of Face

this made me jealous
I got a taste of what I was missing

so... I decided to "throw my helmet into the ring" at next Wakefield Race


yes... the words and images about the first race of the Wakefield series had me wanting to get involved in the action

but... just as I was drawn I was repelled
I have not been mountain biking and I have not been mountain bike racing

I got anxiety about getting my ass handed to me... I was anticipating getting humbled...

the thought of an approaching race always carries a certain level of tension
but after a long break... the thought of my inability to hold my own brought on a greater level of anxiety 

even with the anxiety I did what I could to prepare for the event

which really meant packing my DCMTB kit in a bag and loading my bike on the car and drive to work on Wednesday rather than drive
then leaving work and heading to NOVA instead of home

it was a few weeks back so the details are a bit of a blur

but the afternoon carried the threat of summer showers
I arrived to Wakefield to witness a flurry of people warming up
in no great rush I thought I would traverse the course and take some photos of the early race

after registering I went back to the car

while at the car I sensed that rain was approaching
checked my DARK SKY app on my iPhone and saw that there would be a quick passing rain storm

so I stayed in the car and waited things out

the rain started mid race... the rain was done before the race was finished

I suited up and warmed up
the ground was wet but it seemed like the dark clouds had passed

I warmed up on the road and then dipped into the woods on the Creek Trail

the trails were wet... but so hard packed that they remained fast

it was a little slick 
there was a little opportunity for some Tokyo Drift... but it was fast!

I warmed up and then lined up

at the line I looked at my competition

I got a lump in my throat
I questioned my logic of bringing my single speed to line up against people on their geared bikes

having seen the podium shots from the week prior I knew who a few of the bikes to watch would be...  Brian who I had raced many times years prior... Jason Hade who has recently gotten obnoxiously fast... and a guy named Julius who I think placed first but first the week prior

the race line can be an anxious place

all the classes got released before us

with everyone already on the course we waited for our release
now recalling that I already wrote a post on this day... I put a link to that here


at the end of lap two I was in the lead... they did not measure the second lap
but in the end they awarded me the win for the week
that helps with the series points

it was a wild day on the bikes
it got a little wild... but in the end... it was a great experience

Ian's edited video from that race tells quite a story

for week three I drove to the race
it looked like it was going to rain
but I had to take my chances
I feared that the promoters would be extra cautious about hosting the race after the backlash they got the week prior

sure enough... the race was canceled
I hung out and sipped a beer and talked trails with some MORE guys then went home

W@W#3 would happen the next week...

similar routine as weeks prior

loaded bike into car and drove to work
In the car? yes... can not drive into underground parking garage with a bicycle on the roof
never tried it
but know it will not work

drove to work and then drove to Wakefield

I was tired... dog tired... instead of snapping photos of racers... I tried to nap... not sure if I napped... I know I got out of the car more tired than I was prior to trying to nap
this was not a good way to feel 30 minutes before a race
groggy and racing are not normally associated with each other

passed off an Andrew Jackson at the registration table then I put on my black and red DCMTB kit
ate some energy food and poured some Gatorade and Red Bull into my water bottle
then warmed up

again some up and back on the road that enters the park
then some time on the Creek Trail before taking the line

at the line there were far fewer people than the last races
some of the key players were present while other key players were absent
Jason Hade was a no show... but having Julius and Brian meant that there was going to be a race

most races tend to be top five-top three racers anyhow
it pleased me to know I was lining up against these guys again
while also again giving me anxiety about my opting to race against geared bikes on my Single Speed

 racing a single speed against a geared bike is like trying to play golf with nothing more than a 7 Iron and a putter against a golfer with their full bag
it is a bit of disadvantage

there will be times when it is just the right club... other times where you can make it work... then there will be times when the seven iron is clearly not the right tool for the task

that in an nut shell is the single speed
the right gear sometimes
the wrong gear other times
I had to accept my choices

racers were released as our class waited patiently

the week prior I had a problem with the start
normally I am pretty okay on the start
the hill climb at the start of this race is usually something that plays to my advantage
well... not last week... this week I planned on making this play out differently

the race organizers let us know we had a minute thirty until our start
at 30 seconds we were told he would alert us at 5 seconds and then release us with the words GO
or something to that effect

small talk stopped
breathing got heavy
I waited
tried to get my cranks in the starting position as I waited

then we got the warning
I counted down in my head
waited... waited... waited.. did not want to false start
waited... then GO


I did not move... it seemed as if nobody moved
I recalls saying... "well.. that was a bad start" as all the racers around me lunged forward
we made a made sprint for the loose gravel climb
elbow were flying

I got schooled... I had my ass handed to me...
just like the week prior I was far from the front
in our 5 person category I was the 5th person to crest the hill
well... one spot better than the race prior
but not how I wanted to start

up the hill and a right hand turn onto the flats... more loose gravel as we sprinted for the single track
just as with the week prior... a few racers allowed the pass and then there was some discussion about who would lead into the singletrack
unlike last week... they did not let me enter first
instead... I entered the singletrack in third
not bad... not where I wanted to be... but not bad

swooping down under the powerlines the racer in first over cooked a turn and went off trail
the racer in second took first and then he tried to remount on the trail
my shouting halted his effort

his returning to the trail in this fashion would have stopped the trailing racers and given the leader a gap
I could not let this happen
I chased the lead rider into the woods

it was Julius... the winner of the first week
also the person who jumped into the raging creek to assist the woman racer would was being swept downstream
Julius was keeping a good pace
I held tight to his wheel

in my head I thought about the race... tried to anticipate how things would unfold
wondered what sort of pace Julius would set

then at the tall log crossing that has been ramped out Julius took the "girl scout route" around the log
the route that I usually take
prior to the race I scoped out the ramped log.. I did not feel good about going over the log at speed
so while Julius went around the log I went over the log CYCLOCROSS STYLE

my dismount... hop... remount worked such that I came out the other side right in front of Julius

I had overtaken the leader
I was no longer in second... I was then in first

on the single speed I spun frantically
Julius trailed close behind... really close... I could almost feel his breath on the back of my neck
he was right on my tail
his front wheel knobbies right next to my rear wheel knobbies

I hammered... where ever I hammered... Julius matched my effort...
I thought about where I was at risk of Julius passing and hammered extra hard in these spots

it was a fast lap for the Clydesdales
maybe 17:30
we were rocking it pretty hard
I was glad to have lap one close out

when I crossed the line at the tail end of lap one I had lost Julius from my shadow
he had tried an alternate line at one of the stream crossings... but it may have backfired a bit
back into the woods the switchbacks allowed me to see the distance between Julius and myself
then I noticed something... it looked like Julius and another racer got tangled up
I was not sure what had happened... maybe he stopped to help another woman racer

with Julius our of my shadow I dialed it back
still racing hard but knowing I could not repeat my first lap pace for three laps I toned it down
I looked over my shoulder and did not see anyone
on the power lines I had a long perspective from the Dippity Doos... I did not see Julius and his Red Trek kit or Brian and his beard and camo kit

I tried to race the last two laps "smart"
|no crashing... no flats...
I may have gotten too cautious
lost my focus at one point... sort of forgot how to mountain bike

when I finished the race I found both Julius and Brian at the Start\Finish
both of them had mechanicals
turns out Julius rear ended the woman racer and "tacoed" his front wheel
while Brian had a non-crash related technical issue

my main competitors had dropped out early
giving the 4th and 5th place racers podium finishes at 2nd and 3rd

it was a good race...
the Single Speed worked fine... but was a battle
it made the race more challenging... but really... I am not looking for more challenging
I love the ride of the single speed... but I am faster with gears

Wakefield is great Single Speed terrain... but I am still faster with gears.

Ian's Video from W@W #3


1 comment:

mh said...

Great post man! Nice effort! Every year i do that course i think it gets better and better. People in this region should know how lucky they are to have this and the Greenbelt race (GAWG you should get one of those in before the seasons over)for weekly series. For some, this is the only time that people have to race. Especially parents who have kids in weekend soccer leagues etc.
Nice racing out there! i think you were right that one of the those clydes in notta clyde....bring a scale