July 11, 2014

Wednesdays at Wakefield 2014 race series (round 4)

Conditions - Unlike the last few weeks, the final installation of the 2014 Wednesdays at Wakefield saw wet trails and cool(ish) temperatures.  The humidity was as high as ever.

The last round of the W@W series saw a stacked field take the start.  It wasn't clear whether the race was going to occur.  I ran straight into a large thunderstorm on my bike commute home from work prior to the race.  Somehow, there is a local weather pattern at Wakefield that diverts storms away from the park.  The storms parted and left us with just a sprinkle of rain and fast, tacky conditions.

Expert field start
Joe Dombroski's rumored return to Wakefield turned out to be correct. Joe's performances in the DC area are legend.  He missed the start of one cyclocross race by a few minutes, yet caught and passed the entire field to win by minutes.  He used to rule the Wakefield races - riding away from everyone before he turned to road racing and moved off to Europe to join Team Sky and take on the world's best road racers.  Jared Neiters, also a past W@W champion joined in, as did multi-time national champion, Wes Schempf, Ian Spivak, Chris Dobroth, Jed Prentice, and others.

2009 W@W Champions - Neiters 1st, Dombroski 2nd, Matt Bailey 3rd
At the start, Dylan got into a good position, entering the singletrack third behind teammates Schempf and Neiters.  He was patient until a slip on a wet off-camber root by Schempf gave Dylan an open trail and he was not seen from again.

Dylan with a good gap on 2nd
Dylan put in consistenly fast lap times - going almost 20-30 seconds per lap faster than the same time in 2013 - showing his great form going into next week's U-23 National Championships.

Keeping the power to the pedals
Dylan was one of the few riders to stay upright.  Possibly that was due to the extra low pressure he was able to maintain on his Stan's Race Gold wheelset (maybe 15psi) that let him stick to stuff where the rest of us crashed.

I had a tougher time of it than Dylan.  I started a bit slower and eventually made my way through the field into second place toward the middle of the first of four laps.

But, going into the second lap, I crashed heavily on one of the newly constructed bridges.  I'm not sure why they were built this way, but the new bridges require either turning when entering the bridge or a mid-way turn to cross it properly.  My rear wheel slid out when turning off the final bridge, I fell on my side and slid off the bridge and down ont a pile of broken concrete, landing on my shoulder and ribs.  I had a 30 second lead on 3rd place at that time and I gave all of it up while laying stunned in the ditch.

Eventually, I got up, having conceded 8-9 places.  I got back into a rhythm and started picking riders off. Finally, I got around the 4th and 5th placed riders with a lap left to go and could see Joe and Jared off in the distance.

I worked my way up to them at the top of the climb (helped by lapped traffic that slowed them down a bit) and got a pass on Jared after a stream crossing (he also flatted).

In the last climb following the final stream crossing, Joe took the high line and I took the low line.  I got around him to finish 2nd (though I think at that point, he was just riding easy into the finish -- he's got bigger things to think about than a local mtb race!).

A day later, and I can't get my wedding ring on my left hand because my fingers are 3x their normal size and I can't take a deep breath without stabbing pain; either bruised or cracked ribs.  Ouch.

But, it was a very fun way to end the season.
Dylan also took the overall series win - he took 3 convincing wins in the four race series this year.

Testing the winning gold medal
2014 Series Podium - Dylan 1st, Chris Dobroth 2nd, Kevin Carter 3rd
A fine end to a fun season at Wakefield - though, it felt like we were riding through a swamp it was so humid!
 Next up, the national championships at Bear Creek, PA, July 17-20.  Hope to see you there to cheer Dylan in the U-23 event, and Cam in the Pro field, and Adam in the Cat 1 19-24 race.

- Jeff

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