The Curious Case of Wednesday Worlds

It’s sometimes strange the way that a story unfolds.   It’s why we read I suppose, and on a deeper level, why we race.  This Wednesday Worlds was a unique opportunity to air out your training methods, timing, expectations.  But the only thing that really matters is can you perform – and it’s always a Yes or No answer.  

It’s a few days into Spring but yet the weather hasn’t really broken.  Cool to cold in the 40s was on tap for the third event of the 2013 edition of the WWs.  In addition, a strong-ish breeze was out of the north.  I had some meetings in the morning and a conference call at 2 that afternoon. I took the late afternoon off to take care of some family business.  I dressed and threw a broom into the car, bike on the rack and drove to the course.  On the way, I stopped at the Eastside Bakehouse to pick up three bags of Granola.  One bag for the men’s winner, one bag for the women’s winner and one for the midway prime.  This particular offering was to later be my undoing.

I drove to the course and parked at the top corner, surveyed the sand and swept a 40 foot swath starting with the best line through the corner and going six feet on either side, up to the yellow line.  I repeated this on the bottom corner.    After that task, I parked near the water company mid-course, got on the bike and cycled the 6 miles or so back to the Sample Gates to meet the group.  gates of hell

I stopped at the Bicycle Garage and Ryan Shanahan put my bike on the stand for a quick checkup.  My shifting was off, having put on my race wheels for the first time this season.  I was riding sewups that I had glued on a few weeks ago.  A few other riders stopped in the shop to warm up before heading over to the Sample Gates of hell in a few minutes.

A large group had assembled.  Some strongmen I remember included Jon Atwell and Ryan Knapp (Panther/Bakehouse) Andy Messer and Chris Kroll (Upland), RJ Stuart (Texas Roadhouse), Graham Dewart (Nuvo), Tom Cox (Riley), Paul Smith (Motion).  It was going to be a fast night.  I had earlier sent out a tweet that we would do 5 laps for the men and 4 for the women.  Regrettably, no women were in attendance tonight.  It’s a phenomenon that I find worrisome.  I am hopeful that we can create an event where women don’t feel alienated or overwhelmed by the Wednesday Worlds program.  Ideally, I am eager to see the women in our cycling community prosper by inclusion although I know that there are other pressures at play.  More on that in another post.

We headed out to the course and picked up a few riders along the way, notably Karim Abdelkader (MOB) and a few Little 500 riders coming back from an afternoon at the track.  We hit the start/finish line at a speed and it wasn’t long before Atwell put a dig in.  Soon all the major players were moving up to the front of the peleton.  A series of well timed attacks ensued by Smith, Stuart, Knapp and Atwell that began to test the resolve of the group.  By the 4th lap the group was strung out and the average speed was 25 mph with one to go.   Ultimately Panther/Bakehouse rider Knapp was able to get away for the well deserved victory, soloing into the last 500 meters in front of a hard charging second group three seconds later and another five seconds after that.

If you don’t think Wednesday Worlds is important and can be a significant part of your training regimen, you may want to reconsider. Where else can you find a local event, mid week that offers a no-holds-barred cage match that allows you to get a glimpse of the hallowed ground of the highest level of amateur racing?   I am here to tell you, it’s a gift.  One that should be graciously accepted and invested into your overall fitness.  Do it while you can.  So, I’ll ask the question again; in the heat of the race,  when a gap opens in front of you into a headwind and you have to close it or get dropped, “can you do it?”  if the answer is “no”,  then I’ll hope to see you out here next Wednesday.heading out