7.21.2005

there are a number of things that make summers great...
astro pops and snow cones
blue crabs and Old Bay
watermelon and corn on the cob
women in bikinis and women in sun dresses
amusement parks and state fairs
everything water: ocean/lake/pool/river/stream/water park/backyard hose
then of course there is... Wednesdays At Wakefield

last night was race four of the local mountainbike race series Wednesday At Wakefield
I was lucky enough to schedule my evening to attend this event
what a great way to spend a Wednesday After Work!
here is how it played out

RACE REPORT: WAW-Wednesday At Wakefield #4 2005
having raced the geared Surly Karate Monkey the Sunday prior at The Fairhill Classic
I felt that it may be a good chance for me to get a little more practice on the geared bike
as well as to take this time to compare my lap times on the Geared Monkey with Suspension vs. the Rigid Monkey with only one Gear

the trip to the race site was as uneventful as usual
as I pointed down 14th Street in Norhtwest Washington DC towards Northern Virgina the radio announcer gave a run down of trouble spots in Rush Hour traffic
the mention of slow traffic on I395 South was about as unexpected as if they had said that it will be hot and humid in DC this August

IT IS ALWAYS SLOW AT RUSH HOUR HEADED SOUTH ON I395!
and yes... IT IS ALWAYS HOT AND HUMID IN DC DURING AUGUST!

so I maintained my course and managed to arrive 15 miles from my house in roughly 45 minutes
there was just enough time for a few manic hellos... rapid registration... like Superman in a telephone booth I slipped into the City Bikes Orange and Red in my Element (okay, I was naked in the parking lot)... then pedaled down to the start line and waited for the starting gun

at the start line I was greeted by the pleasure of a large Clydesdale group; six people thick
or
was that six thick people
either way it was good to see more competition on the line
to my mixed pleasure there was my friend and occassional riding partner Chris Redlack
as much as I love the competition.... I also hate to lose
Chris has gotten fast... his performances this year have been fast for any marking
for a Clydesdale... he is super fast
I knew that he was going to be gunning for me
which made for some potential excitement and anxiety
Chris had
raced strong in the Single Speed Class earlier that day and was riding his SS again for this race
those are all factors
but
we do not weigh the excuses for victory or failure until after the race

in my mind this 6 person race was really a 2 person race

at the sound for the release at the START my rear wheel spun out
maintained composure and balance and stuck with it
sprinted with the other racers fighting up the gravel road to be the first into the single track
having gears confused me slightly
never sure to hammer hard or spin strong...
at the crest of the hill I leading the pack
as I turned into the single track I took my speed down a bit to regain breath and composure
behind me I could hear the sound of another biker following close behind
it was clearly Chris Relack
no time to turn around and look
kept my focus forward
yet I was confident it was Redlack

down a small hill and across the creek
as I crossed the man made Paris Roubaix style rock path I tried to use my big wheels and big gears to get a little jump on Chris and his 26 inch wheels and single gear
entered the woods and saw several female racers ahead of me
the trail got tight
there were very few places to pass
trying to respectful as possible I looked for a place to pass
as the racers ahead of me dictated my pace I soon heard Chris on my tail again
able to make a pass I moved from racer to racer
experiencing the same cat and mouse game on each rider
no chance to gain any ground on Chris
the course was too tight to get any distance

on the open powerlines I was able to use the big wheels and the big gears
but sure enough
back into the woods there was more traffic
then the sound of an aggressive racer on my tail
that same aggressive racer

after passing the majority of the Women's Sport racers there was the ever entertaining obstacle of the Men's Sport Racers
at one point a strong and fast women racer was stuck behind a men's sport rider (he fits the demographic)
she was trying to make a pass
he was not allowing it
with Chris hot on my tail I quickly grew aggravated with the slow pace
asked for him to allow
"us" to pass....
TWO RIDERS ASKING TO GET BY
CAN YOU ALLOW US TO GET BY AT THE NEXT AVAILABLE TIME
asked again
tried to point out a good place to let us sneak through
then eventually had to make an aggressive pass
went high on the trail to their side passing both racers in one push
a little danger and a great expenditure of energy
but just like in city traffic... if they will not give it to ya... ya gotta take it

after these guys there was another racer ahead
sure enough Redlack was right behind me
as I rode at this next rider's pace I asked politely to make a pass
there was no answer
I made mention of a good place to make a pass
still no answer
then the request again
he was pedaling faster... but still not at my pace... and his pace was sure to drop again
then I told him I was passing on his left
in a classic New York sort of way my warning on his left was an indicator that he needs to block left
as I accelerated past him
he accelerated as well
to this I shouted... YOU ARE SPEEDING UP!
just in front of us was a gap between two trees
I made the "hole shot"
not sure what happened to him
I felt a brush of an elbow
then went on with my day

not every pass is eventful enough to recount
there were plenty of racers more than willing to share the trail and allow the pass
it seemed as it there were enough racers working for Redlack to make things difficult for me
made some more uneventful passes then found myself behind another racer forbidding me to pass
at my request
there was nothing
at my next request this racer told me to FIGHT FOR IT
unintentionally in a very SPEED RACER sort of way my front wheel grated against his rear wheel
there was lots of noise... knobby tires slapping and spokes plucking
the resistence was enough that we started to slow
the contact was unintentional
although to keep from crashing I had to steer my front wheel into his rear wheel with great strength to keep from crashing
to avoid a crash this rider stopped
with him stopped I was forced to stop and move around him*
*there were some words... nothing too damaging... we spoke after the race and he was cool... adrenalin of the moment
only to sprint to the next rider and find him colliding into a tree and then me colliding into him
from their I dismounted and ran up a little hill with my bike beside me only to find City Bikes Team-mate DT cruising along at a good clip on his IF Mountainbike with a FIXED GEAR
again wanting to make a pass
DT granted me space immediately
to which I am thankful
to my regret Chris Redlack was able to ride in most every wake I created on each pass
we crossed the finishline on lap one and lap two within seconds of each other

the second and third laps went similar to the first
only with a little less aggression on the pass
as I was moving slower
and those that I was passing had less energy to put up a fight

in the end the geared bike was no faster than the single speed for me on this course
yet
my body felt far less beaten up
perhaps I should put a shock on my single speed
ah... economics

ended up finishing first in this race and with my three first place finishes in a four series race I was able to win the Clydesdale Class for the WAW series
after the award ceremony a good number of the racers went over to a local pub for some food, drink, and an all around good time
got home late
but
Wednesday At Wakefield only happens once a year
and well
it is definitely worth it

results

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