9.30.2014

What is this?

2014 JBOMB: Race Report: Dean and Grant from Dad's Perspective


RACE REPORT: Dean and Grant Race the JBOMB at Wakefield Regional Park

last weekend I took the boys to West Virginia for the MORE Fall Camping Trip

nothing reminds me and the boys how much we love mountain biking more than going mountain biking

so... while still on a buzz from being so stoked about our trip to West Virginia we took the bikes out to Wakefield Regional Park for the Trails for Youth's JBOMB!
in years prior the JBOMB was a series... this year the JBOMB is a one day affair
bummer... but we will take what we can get

with the growth of NICA mountain bike series in Virginia the attention of Trails for Youth has been chasing down these other races instead of hosting their own series
I can see a lot of advantages to supporting the growth of the NICA Series
in fact... I would love to see some NICA action at Fort Dupont 


wow!


what a thought... a NICA Race at Fort Dupont? 

yes... a NICA Race at Fort Dupont

that is something that should happen

sorry... getting side tracked

and well... with my no more than a scan before hitting Publish and Post I need to try to keep on task
trying to get something down about the boys racing this Sunday past at the JBOMB



there was not much that needed to be done to the bikes
just air in the tires and lube on the chain

oh sure... Grant's suspension fork is blown out... nothing I could do between last weekend and this weekend
no time for a rebuild... plus... in part because I lack the know how to do a rebuild a suspension fork... but also because there was no time to get the fork to a shop and back between West Virginia and Wakefield


so Grant would be riding his geared Trek mountain bike with a fully compressed suspension fork... to which Grant shrugged his shoulders and said... "rigid is faster!"
while Dean would be racing his single speed Gunnar that he has nearly outgrown


like father... like sons

I have always ridden bikes that are tragically too small for me and always out of tune
but this is not about me
this is about my boys racing at Wakefield

the boys were stoked... stoked yet nervous

pre-race anxiety is normal...
they each got a little more than butterflies when we talked about the race
they each went through the same set of emotions that any adult racer would go through

who will be there? 
how will I perform? 
blah blah blah...

this is completely normal... it is not about the anxiety... it is about how you respond to the anxiety

that energy... that nervous energy... that adrenaline can be a valuable tool
gotta try to capture that energy
gotta fight caving into that energy

on the car ride to the race we talked about pre-race anxiety

we talked about preparation... breathing... fueling up... getting your bike ready... getting your body ready... getting your mind ready
there was talk about riding their own race
going hard... but no so hard that you blow up and are too tired to finish

then Welcome to the Jungle came on the radio...
HERE IS A GOOD SONG TO CARRY WITH YOU!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1tj2zJ2Wvg

listen to this... a good song in your head helps to keep the tempo up

the boys only gave me half attention... I had my distracted sons repeat what I said so that I was not just talking to hear myself speak...

"be considerate when trying to pass
find safe smart places to pass
be vocal about the pass
ask to take the pass... if you have to... take the pass
but do not put yourself or others at risk trying to pass"

and of course... allow the faster racer to pass

but that does not mean pulling over for the other racers... especially if you are racing them
decide accordingly
if someone is faster... let them pass... let them ride their race
if someone is going to pass and drop their pace... do not let them pass as you do not want to get stuck behind them... you want to try to ride your own race... not get stuck at someone else's pace or their inability to clear various technical obstacles

there was all sorts of talk like that

the boys understood... they had been through this before
I warned them about the possible competition
respecting that we are city folk and do not get into the woods that often
and that there are kids who are taking cycling seriously... mountain biking and biking in general as their main sport

we talked about winning

not that it is so important to win... but to go out and try your hardest and to try and do your best
ride within their limits
again being safe and smart

don't "over cook the turns" 

don't crash going out of control

and of course... have a good start

if possible... WIN THE HOLE SHOT!
do not crash trying to win the hole shot

be up at the front... don't burn out trying to win the hole shot...
do not get stuck behind anyone slower than you
and worse yet
do not get stuck behind someone who might crash

it all sound so confusing
so many "if then" statements



there was some city traffic... but Interstate 395 to I-495 and then Braddock Road was pretty smooth
we arrived with a little less than an hour to prepare for Dean's race
which is really just enough time to register, warm up, and take the line
Grant would have two hours before his race start

before getting out of the car I turned to Dean who was in the back seat and said something to the effect... "I love watching you race... I love your riding style... it is this weird mix of happy go lucky and mellow all the while being intense and totally focused"
then Grant asked me what I thought of his riding style... to which I responded... "Grant... I love your riding style... you race with passion and heart... you attack the trail and try to crush anyone that gets in your way"

I got out of the car and starting pulling bikes off the roof rack

Grant was suited up and riding his bike before I got his race number
he was not warming up... he was checking out the bridge over 495 with the dog
which was fine... it is nice that he is confident with his surroundings
able to explore without getting lost

after registration and numbers on the bike Grant was off to pre-ride the course
while Dean was a little more under my wing

somewhat anxious for the race... me not Dean... I moved frantically between actions

unloading bikes... registration... numbers on bikes... fuel up Dean... release Grant... I had Dean do a little warm up and then when we encountered each other again I took Dean to the gravel uphill
strict and firm... maybe a little too curt... I tried to explain "the fast line" on the lose gravel
and how he would need to chose a smart line

he would be racing with a handful of other people
I told him not to crash trying to get to the hard pack line

I showed him the indentations of the jeep track
and how there were two fast line options
and dangerously soft loose gravel and soft earth options flanking the two jeep track lines

then I had Dean try the hill once.. then again at speed
I wanted him to know if he could clear this short steep loose gravel climb on his single speed
making him understand not to try and grind it
"if you can't spin it... you will have to dismount and run it"

Dean was able to ride it
he rode it twice and then I sent him on an up and back on the road by the creek and some single track
stressing that he take it light
just warm up... stay loose

when Dean returned there was a little time before the start
I had him stand in the shade while I took the dog to the creek


out of the woods with the dog and I rode up to Dean and gave him a quick good luck
race director Pat Childers was giving his pre-race pep talk
his advice to his racers being the exact inverse of mine
sure Pat was right...  the gravel hill does not decide the race... it is a long two lap race and will be places to catch up and places to pass...

all that was true... 
but...  the strategy to win and control the race... the best strategy if the racer can make it happen is to win the gravel climb... sprint to the hole shot... then control the race from the front

let all faster riders pass you
don't get caught behind any suckers
avoid the crashes and the pile ups
if someone passes... pace off them... decide where to fight to regain the lead 
and then gauge the race from there

then a pinch on dean's arm and I was off with the camera
off to find a good vantage point to take some photos of the young racers



although it is not displayed in these photos... I was a little shocked and totally stoked to see Dean was the first Junior in the older age group to be rolling down the singletrack
when Dean passed he already had a pretty decent gap before the next racer
he was spinning that single speed pretty good
I feared he was going a little hot and called out for him to settle in
not sure if he knows what settle in means





I snapped a few shots of a few more racers then grabbed the dog and the bike and took off to try and catch Dean again at the power lines
sure I could have found the racers sooner
but I did not want to go all crazy and end up missing some decent vantage points


so... up to the powerlines
I hung with race EMT volunteer Chris Barnes as we watched the ant size racers in the distance
I could see that Dean was the leader in his jersey that I found as I checked out of the Hotel in Fort Collins... I looked for it could be owner... then forgot about it... Dean has been wearing it ever since

the San Diego Bicycle Coalition would not complain... Dean is putting them on the podium from time to time
Chris and I talked about the short steep rock section before the powerlines
we questioned if Dean and the other kids could clear it
I think Dean did a dismount and run
smart move
less effort and more speed



at different parts of the race there were different racers on Dean's tale
first one... then another
until finally the kid in blue jeans became the chase

he got close... but when I saw him... he was never in his shadow

threatening... but not quite 

after snapping a few shots... just before Dean finished his first lap... I took off to find young Grant
it was getting to a point where Grant should be warming up
I know that he pre-rode the course
but where is he now?

I did not leap into worried parent mode
but I was a little anxious
not because he was lost
but because I was splitting my attention

where would I check
on the bike with the dog at my side I went looking for Grant
first to the Start and then to the Finish 
I slowed and scanned the group of riders in his category
then up to the car

sure enough... chill laxing in the car
smart place to be
relaxing in comfort
I instructed him to fuel up and warm up
and then to meet down at the line

Grant has a good handle on time
he takes instructions pretty well
well.. he takes instructions well for things he wants to do
he hates when I say it... but he is head strong
we lock horns quite often

with Grant suiting back up and eating some pre-race fuel... I was rushing back to the race course to try and catch Dean's finish
he was still a little bit out
none of the racers had finished
I was excited to see if he had held onto first

lots can happen
faster riders... crashing... mechanical... bonking
but none of these would be a concern until I started seeing other Juniors roll into the finish
the I saw him
a few turns ahead in the woods

spinning to the finish
he maintained his pace
he maintained his lead
he set out to win and achieve his goals

AWESOME!
My 13 Year old son Dean won his category and was fastest over all for the day!
WOO HOO!





then it was time for the younger kids's race

they would have a slightly different start
no short steep loose gravel climb for the kids 12 and under
instead they would have a spring on the hard pack road along the creek
then turn into the woods and run pretty much the same loop as the older kids
only they would do one lap rather than two

Grant was stoked... I had given him is pre-race pep talk
and he knew what he wanted to do
Dean and Grant have very different personalities
how they express themselves on the bike is very different
yet they each have their successes



with Grant at the line I took to the woods with Dean
we did not see the start... but at first glance I could see that Grant had taken off fast and was in the lead
Dean and moved from one spot to another to try and get some photos and cheer


humorously... we took to a spot that was not on the course
we waited and we waited
but I missed the initial photo op

so we traversed the trail


out by the powerlines I waited to get at least one good shot
SNAP!
got it... it is posted below

I cheered... I was so excited to see Grant rocking the course
he was so focused
so intense
moving fast yet still in control

no one near him... yet self motivated to hammer fast forward



broken shock and all... Grant rocked the course
he was so fast that I did not get as many snaps as I had intended
at the finish I was ecstatic to see my boys 
ecstatic to see them win
but also just happy to see them so happy

I miss out on so many riding opportunities so that my boys can ride
so moments like this make me feel as if it is all worth it

then before the awards... Dean and I went to retrieve our bikes from the woods
there was a moment of panic
I thought someone had moved them... worse yet... someone had stolen them
I usually do not jump to this conclusion
but I was confident I knew where we put them
but alas no... I had put them in spot one but forgot that we moved them to spot two
my bad


it was a great day
the boys were very pleased with their effort
they each had fun
they worked hard and achieved their goals
I tried not to take the wind out of their sails by telling them that this is just a local grass roots race with a little "just for fun" element to it
but that talk would come later
I let them enjoy their glory
they have heard my diatribe about them being strong on the bike but their being kids who ride and race with skill and technique like small adults

they know that Colorado kids have more opportunities
heck... Germantown kids have more opportunities
but for city folk
they rock it pretty hard

they made me proud
it is a lot of work for a parent to make this happen
but it is worth it
I enjoyed myself

now... when do I get to ride my bike?
oh yes... when I go to work each day



the boys expressed their personality differences on the podium
Dean shy and contained
Grant bold and in charge
I love them so much
I would love them even if they did not make the podium

good times... good times for sure
bummer that the JBOMB is only one day
we need to search out other mountain bike options for the kids
I guess we need to take a measure of our intentions\opportunities for the MoCo Epic







my best two shots of the day... just happen to be of two of my favorite people in the world





not significant.. but not insignificant... there have been some changes to Wakefield Regional Parks Mountain Bike Trails since I last rode\raced there


10 year old "catting up" at the JBOMB

yes... he rode two laps
but I do not think he would have finished one lap faster than Grant finished his
I think... but am not certain... I think that Grant reeled in and caught all but one or two of the 11-12 year olds
quite possible that even with the delayed release of his group... quite possible that my son Grant
not pictured here
quite possible that Grant was the fastest over all among the sub 12 year old racers

Wakefield Regional Park
I need to get my fat ass and my fat tires to the trails at Wakefield
it has been too long since I have ridden or raced at Wakefield


I considered only sharing the top photo
but... since I took both
I will share both


one more shot of that same rider by Treasury... seconds later


things I see... places and people when I ride straight for work... I need to get back into the swing of things... life and work have gotten me lazy about extending my commutes


Treasury
Ali doing backwards circles on his track bike


Pennsylvania Avenue
Tar on his Track Bike



9.29.2014

Robert Lighthouse... Major Lawrence always tried to get me to see Robert Lighthouse... and that was decades ago... finally saw Robert Lighthouse



I never saw this shot... I did not get the memo that we were supposed to wear our Folklife t-shirt... I thought it looked like a Gap shirt so it never made it high in my rotation... I think Holland got bounce from the World Cup the day prior... so I am wearing my Dutch orange t-shirt


some photos from a party after the 2014 Folklife Festival

Battle of Bethesda? I thought it happened in the McDonald's Parking lot!


photos from the JBOMB


I did not take a photo of every child that passed
but I did take a lot of photos
threw those images on the Gwadzilla Facebook Page

and some mention of the JBOMB previous years

my brother Marc won his age category at the Head of the Potomac... I searched for results online this morning... but had to wait for information to filter through Facebook


row row row your boat would explain why you were not racing the first MABRA Cyclocross race of the season

Marc on the Gwadzilla Page

brother brings up some randomness that is... oh
I always say that
but really... there are some words on this tangent worth chasing

Police CRACK DOWN on Bicycles on the sidewalk... etc.

Washington City Paper Article about Police ticketing cyclist
http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/

Don't Get Me Started!
oh... you already did...
ticketing bicyclists?
who is the genius behind this...

lets start with the cars and then go down the line...
really...
who put in the complaint?
a pedestrian? one of those suit or skirt cell phone wielding jaywalkers
one of those penny loafer wearing terrorists

or was it one of those Nascar wanna bes?
one of those car drivers with their 0-60 in seconds flat accelerators?
one of those eco-terrorists with their AC cranked and their windows up
GPS system talking to them like a modern day hover parent

oh...
those car drivers with their high end vehicles
the capacity to go well over a hundred miles per hour but tend to do most of their driving in a 25-35 MPH Zone
those machines that comfortably seat four but tend to be occupied by one
was it one those people

who was it?
and why?
what is their objective?
are they trying to make the streets more safe
or are they just responding to a squeaky wheel?

THE BICYCLE AND THE LETTER OF THE LAW!
that is a notion that cracks me up
WHY DOES THE BICYCLE HAVE TO ADHERE TO THE LETTER OF THE LAW... BUT THE REST OF SOCIETY CAN DO WHATEVER THE FUCK THEY WANT?!?!??!?

enough on this...
my words on this blog mean nothing



Halloween Themed DC Bike Party!


harsh reality slaps me in the face riding the trails at Bike Bear Lake in West Virginia


one of my life's greatest joys is riding my bike with my boys
yes... I love riding and racing mountain bikes
but I find great joy in dropping my pace and pedaling with my kids
although I do not let them drop their pace
which has me pushing them all the time

yes... sometimes I may inadvertently push them too hard
by the nature of riding with both of my boys there is the risk for failure
Dean is 13 and Grant is 10
although Grant is strong on the bike for a ten year old... it would not be fair to expect him to keep pace with a 13 year old boy
especially his 13 year old brother Dean... a young boy who is able to ride his single speed mountain bike at an adult pace

the discrepancy in the ages and the varying skill level is something that I have tried to balance from their humble bicycling beginnings
always knowing that there is the potential issue where the three of us are riding together has my older son uncomfortably forced to slow down or wait
while my younger son is forced to push his pace and not permitted to stop as much as he may feel he must


they have managed...
it has not been without issue
but they have managed

during the period where I was working part time I ran a system where I would drop the kids off at school with their bikes
then instead of picking them up from school
I would ride my bike to their school and we would ride our bikes home together
usually making the route longer than the most straight\direct route

oh man...
there would be fights
each boy wanting to lead
me trying to be fair
but more than likely favoring the whine of my younger boy

it is troublesome... something that I scripted
in an effort to be fair
in an effort not to leave anyone out
I have ended up making an awkward situation for all parties involved

even with the best intentions 
often I get frustrated\grumpy\angry
while each of the boys gets frustrated\grumpy\angry
and this did not start with our mountain biking together
even our urban rides have had their moments of youth rebellion

I can remember riding down to the museums
it was always a party heading downtown
but heading back at the end of the day
not only is it the end of the day
but it is also all uphill headed home
man... the number of times that Grant threw his bike down and took a stance that he would pedal no more
well... I think I could count how many rides we did like that
and well... that would be the number of times that he revolted or at least complained


youth events tend to go pretty well
the kid bicycle events usually separate the kids by different age groups
which is good
so rather than having the boys compared to each other
they get to line up and get compared to other kids their own ages


the boys are strong... they always make me proud
there is a good chance that they are not as strong on the bike as they once were
not to get too deep into it
but all the bitching and moaning that the boys go through when I try to rally them for a ride
well... it wore me down
they won... well... actually... they lost
I no longer have the strength to fight them
their resistance go their way

sadly... kids do not know what is best for them
they only know what they want
and
it would be best for them to listen to their father
but alas no... that is not the nature of the relationship

so... we ride far less frequently together than I would like
but this is not the point
this is not the direction I intended this post to go


BACK ON TASK
BACK ON POINT!

oh yes... the MORE Fall Camping Trip
that was supposed to be the center of this rant
the MORE camping trip and my effort to take a 10 year old on a the Big Bear Race Loop aka the Yellow Trail

this weekend past I went on the MORE Fall Camping Trip
this has become a seasonal highlight for me and the boys each fall
so much fun that I have accepted that the boys will miss soccer and I will not be able to coach my younger son's team
I feel the experience of camping and riding their bikes in the mountains is as valuable as any "rec" soccer game

FLASH FORWARD\FLASHBACK!

jump to Saturday post breakfast
we are at the campground at Bike Bear Lake in West Virginia
everyone is suited up and all jittery
everyone is all hopped up on coffee and ready to rock and roll
I gather with some of the SMORES ride coordinators to see what they were thinking

there had been talk of three rides of varying skills
but when I meet up with Jason Miller and Eric Crawford it is sounding more like one large SMORES ride and me and my boys doing our own thing... which is fine

we start off with the kids...
out of the campground, into the woods, and onto the trail
not even a half mile into the ride I stop in the shade before the "pumptrack\jump lines"
we wait... kids are collecting... we wait some more
more waiting

kids are getting anxious
some kids in the front ask if they can ride the jumps and come back
I sent them forward... they leave off
then every kid who arrives just rolls right by me

it is madness... it is like herding cats

but... I still think that all the kids are going to the other side of this open section and then turning back
then Jason Miller rolls up and tells me that my dog Didg did not see me go ahead and has gone back to the campground looking for me
so... I turn it around
I head back to locate the dog

at the campground I give a whistle and a hoot and I hear the jingle of my dog's collar
then back into the woods and I am in chase mode
trying to catch the kids
at the dam I see kids and adults
I ask where my kids have gone
people think that they are in a breakaway group on the black trail
but there is no definitive answer
I continue to chase

in the woods I run into Eric Crawford and Todd Bauer's son Johnny... but still no sight of my boys
so I continue on... then 100 yards or so forward I run into my boys and another kid from the SMORES group Calvin
Calvin wants to go with the other group... so I send him backtracking

here is where the story starts...

I am on the Black trail in the woods not far from the actual Big Bear Lake
it is Dean, Grant, Didg, and myself
things are already moderately technical and we have not even gotten to the Yellow Loop yet
the boys are each picking solid lines
Didg is as excited as everyone else to be covering some ground in the woods
and I am stoked to be in Wild and Wonderful West Virginia

the trail is tough
not only is the trail tough... Grant's shock is frozen in the compressed position
so... young Grant is riding rigid
RIGID IN BY GOD WEST VIRGINIA
THAT IS HARDCORE! 

it is not long into our ride and Grant is starting to wain
we slow... we wait... Grant catches up
Dean and I roll forward... Grant falls back
we stop... we collect
Grant is not having fun

things are discussed... I am chastised for not giving Grant a choice on what to do
Grant would have preferred to ride with the other group

so... I have Dean hold the dog and Grant and I start to see if we can back track and catch the other group
100 yards down the trail and Grant stops his bike then turns back to me... "lets do this... I can muscle through this"

ah... that is my little trooper
that is the never say whatever attitude that I was looking for
so... we turn it around and roll back up on Dean
we approach things a little differently

I put Grant in the lead position... Dean and I stay back... we give Grant a head start
this seems like a better plan
it is so defeating mentally to be the caboose
it feels so much better to be up front as the engine

we continue this cat and mouse game
slowing and stopping for the dog to get some water and the boys to catch their breath
then I send Grant ahead and Dean and I wait back
this continues for a bit
then we run into Bike Lane's Lynne Grasso and her daughter
by this time the we are on the Yellow Trail and it has gone from kinda rocky to all rocks all the time
ride-able... but no flow... noting free... nothing easy

Lynne and her teenage daughter are turning back... 
actually... she has the map out and is trying to establish which way would be the most immediate route home
I was confident that our approach was the quickest way back
then I turn to Grant offering him an escape route
it is the rational thing to do
it is what is best for Grant
it is also what is best for Dean

this trail did a good job in showing the discrepancy in their ages and the difference in their strength and skill
this is not viewed as quitting
this is viewed as playing it smart

I thank Lynne... Grant tears back to camp in record time


Dean and I muscle our single speeds up a gradual technical climb
it gets hard and then gets harder
then there is some hike-a-bike
and then it keeps going up
not a sustained climb
but a difficult slog
Dean and I dismount and push our single speeds up the hill

I am pleased that Grant went back when he did
it was the right decision
it was a mismatch to bring these boys onto this trail together
Rosaryville... Schaeffer Farms... Wakefield... the flowing trails there is less to show the difference between a strong 10 year old and a strong 13 year old

the trails of West Virginia will separate the men from the boys


but what are my best options...
I guess separation is the best option
well... some days together... other days apart 
in these group ride scenarios I will have to make that painful Sofie's Choice
I will ride with one and send the other off with an alternate group


growing pains
growing pains for a father who wants the best for his kids
a father who wants to push his kids
and also wants to be there to support his kids and to have fun with his kids

I love riding with my boys
but... I think we need to sort out this varying intensity thing
Dean gets less out of the rides with we have Grant in the mix
but if Grant is left out... then Grant gets nothing out of the ride

what to do? what do do?