It was just another typical summer Wednesday and I was refreshing my browser every five minutes to check the status of potential thunderstorms. With mixed emotions, I clicked refresh once again as the big green blob continued to cover the area. I looked out the window. Rain. I clicked refresh again. Same thing. I zoomed into see if it was raining at Wakefield. Yes? Maybe? No?
I have always had sort of a love hate relationship with the Wednesday at Wakefield races, our local weekday summer mountain bike race series. Often, I find myself hoping for thunderstorms to get out of racing. It’s not like I am REQUIRED to go, but at the same time, how can I not go? It’s just something you do. Summer would feel weird without it. Summer would feel weird without hoping for Wednesday thunderstorms and racing in 100 degree weather 100 feet from the busiest section of highway in the D.C. area.
Last week’s Expert Women’s race was probably the most competitive mountain bike race I have ever been a part of. Usually, I spend much of my race in sight of no one at all. But last week, we were a tight train of first, second, and third place for an hour and fifteen minutes. I could only expect something similar this week. My legs however, were feeling pretty dead from Saturday’s 12 Hours of Cranky Monkey race, so I was really rooting for a thunderstorm. But alas, the weather looked like it would hold off, so off I went.
At the race start we all started talking about how tired we were from weekend events. Great, we ALL have excuses, I thought. That means that my excuse is cancelled out and officially voided from acting as an excuse. Everyone was chatting about how they didn’t want to race, but in my experience, when women talk about how they don’t want to race, they are lying.
At the start, I tried to let someone else take the lead, as I do better to chase than to be chased, but no one was going for it. So similar to last week, I charged up the small gravel hill to go off in the front and lead the pack. Luckily, the trails were drier than last week, and I wasn’t as sketchy and nervous to be in front this time. I worried that I was going too slow, but I didn’t really feel like going faster. About two-thirds of the way through lap 1, the first place Sport dude caught us. He passed everyone behind me, and when he got to me, he clipped my handlebars. In an instant, I flipped over the bars and landed bike flat out all over the trail. Becky (who was behind me) slowed down and asked if I was ok as she went by. I said yes and yelled for her to GO! I didn’t want the other two women to catch us. Becky yelled for me to stay on her wheel and I quickly got back up and hopped back on. I think Becky was more angry at that guy than I was, but I guess he passed her (and the rest of the women) pretty poorly and then she got to watch him take me out.
Note to the Sport Men: Chill the @#$% out or step it up and race Expert.
I stayed behind Becky for the next two laps. She would get ahead, and I would catch back up. The Sport dudes continued to pass over zealously or not zealously enough.
Note to the Sport Men: If you are going to pass, find a spot and DO IT QUICKLY.
By the middle of lap 3, I was squarely on Becky’s wheel and plotting a chance to pass. At the very end of the lap, she slipped out on a weird section of trail and I was able to zip around. I kept expecting her to pop right back out behind me, until I realized that the spot she had the misfortune of clipping out would be very difficult to get started again, and she probably had to run the short steep climb. I rode the rest of the lap alone and snagged first place. There was also a pretty impressive sprint finish for third. The Expert women continue to be the most entertaining in the 2013 W@W series!
In 2010, Wednesday at Wakefield #2 was my first mountain bike race. I was so nervous that I might have turned around in the parking lot and left if I had not run into a friend who helped get me to the start line. I was last in the two Sport races I did. Like dead last. Like no one was behind me last. Both races were a terrible experience. Not because I was last, but because they were just generally terrifying to my newbie self. I have no idea why I kept going back, but I did. Good thing!