RACE REPORT: Wednesday at Wakefield (WAW) Race #3
(but my first WAW in two years)
Last year the whole Wednesday at Wakefield race series was a bust for me. The combination of a straight job and summer afternoon rain made it so I was not able to partake in this local summertime pleasure known as WAW. This year seemed like it was going to be some of the same. The first two Wednesday At Wakefield races surrounded the 24 Hours of Snowshoe event and were overshadowed by another race promoter hosting the Cranky Monkey event at the same venue, thus taking some of the MUST DO sensation from rushing out to Wakefield Park after work.
But, the draw was there and the idea was in my mind. So yesterday morning as Lisa handed Grant to me and gave me an update on Dean's position in the house she asked if I was still on for the after work mountainbike that race that evening. I told her yes, weather permitting. The work day passed minute by minute, hour by hour, and as it got closer to 5 more and more work started to pile on my desk, many things that could not wait until the next day. As I moved about the building trying to finish the tasks of the day I leaned and looked out the window to check to see if it was raining, and made period inquires at weather.com. It looked like rain both in the sky and by the Doppler radar...as I rode my bicycle home from work it felt like rain, as a matter of fact if was raining, not hard, but raining just the same. Lisa and I had compared calendars and we had each marked the #3 and #4 WAW events on our calendar so I felt committed. I pedaled home at a leisurely pace not letting the excitement of the evening get my heart rate to rise. It was important for me not to get caught up in fighting things that were out of my control. i.e.. TRAFFIC and RAIN! So I got home, put my commuter bike away, greeted the dogs, greeted the wife and children, and went to check to see if I could find out if the race was still on! Some emails that seemed up to the minute said that the race was on and the rain was holding off. Down to the basement to pack a bag...helmet...jersey....shorts...gloves....shoes....socks.....glasses....check....double check....everything was in the bag except I had no clean socks in the basement and my glasses were on my head, so I opted not to go to the top floor of my Mt Pleasant row house, but rather to race in the socks on my feet. Checked my bag again for all the requisite gear, everything checked out....grabbed a packet of Fig Newtons, some Frito chips, some Hammer Gel, a bottle of water, and of course RED BULL! Went upstairs to kiss the wife and hug the children and I was out the door. Dean was all over me. He wanted to go. I told him I was running an errand to sound less attractive than mountain biking racing, he said, "I want to go on an errand with you." It was bitter sweet. It is great to be wanted, yet it hurts to abandon him. I picked Dean up and hugged him and assured him that I wanted him to go too, but that I had to go and he had to stay with mommy. Dean clung to my neck and side like a little furless Koala bear. Finally I was able to pry him free, distract his attention with a Capri Sun. Dean ran to mommy Lisa with Capri Sun in one hand and the straw in the other while I ran down to the basement. With my two bags full of gear on my back I grabbed my bike off the wall and headed out the back. As I mounted my bike in the alley to ride around front to my truck I could feel that the rear tire was flat. Assured that I had a 29 inch tube I continued towards my truck, there was no time to fix this here. There was traffic to fight and start lines to stand in.
The drive was as hectic and as painful as every drive is at 5:30-6:15 on a weekday can be on 395 headed south. But I had resigned myself to not getting worked up. I concentrated on breathing and did as little checking of my watch as I could. Checking my watch did not get me there any quicker but it did help me to respect that I need to streamline my tasks when I arrived...parking close is better than far....go to the registration tent with all gear, do the repair there. After registration I still felt good. There was no time for long hellos to friends or familiar faces, had a flat to fix. Seconds into removal of my rear wheel I broke my multitool! the 15mm wrench was useless...I was FUCKED! I asked around, scanned for tool boxes, looked for single speeds with bolt ons, finally race promoter and all around nice guy Scott Scudmore sent me to his unlocked truck to see what I could find. I found one tool! Where was I CHAIN REACTION? Vise Grips have nothing to do with the bike, I grabbed it and used it just the same. Returned it. Returned the pump, then found that had a knuckle buster in my truck, you know....a redneck wrench....yes, a crescent wrench. I tightened things up another quarter turn and mounted my rigid 29 inch wheeled Karate Monkey and headed to the start. As I go closer to the registration tent Scott gave me a hearty hello and motioned down the single track, then made things more clear, "Joel they are lined up at the base of the hill! GO!"
I rolled down the hill making fast and polite passes past dogs and dog walkers, kids, and other cyclists only to be greeted by a mass of people waiting patiently for the race to start. There was my class, CLYDESDALES, 4 big boys plus me! Five Strong, lined up right behind the Sport Women. There was no time to ask to swap departures with the ladies, the other classes were on their way and soon enough so would we. Without warning Scott pushed a button on the megaphone and a horn signaled the start, no countdown, nothing, just a horn and the sight of the other Clydesdales putting their feet to the pedals and moving forward. Rapidly I did the same. My foot came off the left pedal as I struggled to get the cranks around while I tried to find a line on the lose gravel that started the course. At the summit of that first little roller of the climb I was already in first of the Clydesdales. Team captain Brian Pooch was there cheering me on as I turned left into some single track. Then the race began. Wakefield is a local park with a variety of tight twisty single track that goes up and around and doubles back upon itself over and over and then over again. The course is set up so that there are a few good sections to pass, but who can wait for that. I fought as hard as I could to shake the other Clydesdales. I could feel PVC racer Dale right on my tale. As I verbalized each polite pass, so did he. Then right behind him was Chris Redlack, friend and riding partner and oddly enough also a St Mary's College graduate. I felt good on that first lap. I had not wasted too much energy on the drive to the race nor when getting that bike set to race. There had been potential for panic, but I maintained my wit. Now that the race had started I tried to maintain that same level of cool. Intense and focused, yet still cool. One by one I passed women sport riders, always giving them space, always trying to be respectful. Sometimes coming close to colliding or running them off the course, yet only close, never happening.Then as the race continued I started to reel in some of the men in the other classes, it got thick in those woods and the passing was not easy. At times my pace was dictated by the flow of traffic in front of me, as I tried to breath easy the thought that the other Clydesdales are dealing with the same set of variables put things at ease.
The rigid single rocked and rolled on this tight flat course, the 29 inch wheels did their 29 inch wheel thing. I was able to clear all obstacles and all climbs, managed to stay clear of some cyclist crashing around me and also managed to make passes on lines that were not as smooth or as easy as I would have liked. The sky and the air had the feeling of a rain to come, yet the course was dusty and dry. I had opted to race sans Camelback, but had forgotten my water bottle. Luckily at the start a young Clydesdale named Ryan poured some water from his bottle into an small Deer Park bottle I had taken from home. I needed that water, my throat was dry and I knew that it was only going to get dryer. Yet I held out, I had to save that water for when I really needed it, sadly enough I needed it sooner than I had expected. Come half way through the second lap I found myself reaching for that jersey pocket and unscrewing the top, only to make a turn and find that I had to roll over a stack of logs one handed, then put the bottle in my mouth and clinched it with my teeth as I cleared another set of logs. Then out of the woods and fast down some single track power line trail, I put the cap in my jersey pocket and took a swig. Then returned the uncapped bottle to my jersey pocket knowing that I would need that last swig on my final lap.
It is a short course and a short race, as the third lap started I was already smiling. I had battled cramps that were forgotten by the third lap and were nearly forgotten and left out of this report. My arms were a little ragged and tired from the fast chattering downhills, which caused me to slow things a bit, especially as I took those some chattering downhills on the last and final lap. At this point in the race I had less energy to make the pass on each rider in front of me and often just accepted their pace until there was an obvious section to go around each rider. Then just as I thought I should pick up the pace and burn any reserve fuel I may have in my legs the turn to the finish was in front of me. No dramatic sprint to the end, I just rolled in and saved that fuel for the bonding session with the other riders after the race.
There was great relief that the race was over. Perhaps I should have done one more lap just to see if I could maintain that pace and see where I would have finished with the experts, but I felt like I had done my job. At this race the Clydesdales all did something that I aim to do at each Clydesdale event, we brought respect to the class. We all raced fast and would have placed high in other classes, proving that we are not only big, but we are fast as well. Wednesday at Wakefield was once again that summer treat like watermelon and bomb pops. There is no other time of year for the post work race, take it when it is offered. It is a great way to spend the hours after work. It is great racing and an even greater gathering. Friends and competition are created here. This race is at the heart of mountainbiking. Without a doubt weather, work, and life permitting I will try to make it to the last WAW next week and until then I will savor the flavor of watermelons and bomb pops.
the results are posted on the PVC site http://www.potomacvelo.com/2004waw_results.htm
or more specifically
I scored first in Clydesdale and felt I had a strong first lap and a solid 2nd and 3rd
pleased with my choice to race the rigid single speed and stay in the Clydesdale Class
(had I raced Single Speed my times would estimate that I would have been just a few slots behind team captain Brian Pooch who was throwing back the Miller High Life last night like they we one of his sponsors! (hope brian's mother does not read that)
check it out
and if you think of it
grab your bike and head to Wakefield after work next week
the race is a party
and there is always a party at Kilroys bar afterwards