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Vermont Kingdom Kup Race Reports

By Derek Wladyka

Welcome to Derek's kingdom Kup race report. (I apologize in advance for the word count.)

After spending nearly five hours in the car from long island to Philly I was finally here, back to school. I signed in, unpacked the van and schlepped all my "essentials" to my suite. After an hour of unpacking I was almost settled. Brett gave me a ring and It was off to the races. My parents helped me carry my gear and delicious homemade sandwiches (sustenance for the approaching weekend) down to the van (Big Bertha). After being introduced to Vince and Brett, they dropped my stuff, said their goodbyes and headed back up to longuiland. I must admit I was quite excited to be going to my first mountain bike race of the season, especially since we actually had other team members that were as pumped about mountain as I am. Pft, Roadies. Any who... after chatting for a bit we continued packing the van. When Vince pulled out the rack we would be using, I was terrified to see the bikes would be strapped to the rack with the loose ends in lieu of elastomers. After situating our gear we piled into Bertha and headed out.

Our conversation eventually shifted to the new kit. As we looked over the proofs we continued down vine street in heavy traffic. As Vince looked back at the proofs the traffic ahead came to an abrupt stop. Slamming on the brakes Big Bertha managed to stop just inches away from the rear bumper of the car ahead. As everyone took a sigh of relief I tensed fearing the crisp sound of shattering carbon behind us. Luckily the vehicle behind us managed to stop just inches away from that expensive appendage dangling from the trunk. Believing that all our karma had been used, we feared what the weekend would bring. The next few hours progressed without incident and we eventually reached our destination, East Burke Vermont. Now where do we go? We were without lodging or a campsite. With no other options we pulled into the back parking lot of the visitor center. This is where we would spend our next two nights. Unraveling our sleeping bags we settled in for the night. Before falling asleep I decided it would be a good idea to place my sandwich outside so it would stay cold. As an extra measure of defense I mindlessly tied it tight in my bag and dropped it beside the passenger door. In the morning I swung the door open to retrieve my perfectly refrigerated sandwich. Looking down, to my dismay, all I could see was grass. Confused, I emerged from my cocoon for further investigation. Lying on the ground, covered in mud was the tattered remains of my bag and most regrettably my sandwich... As a tear crept to my eye I rushed to its side, there was no use. It had been ravenously torn apart. I unable to remain at the site of such a travesty I collected the remains and solemnly drove off to the general store.

After eating and readying for the race, we headed off to the start of the xc venue. Eventually we were called to assemble at the start of the race. With a clear path ahead of us Vince, another rider and I lined up with the entire B field behind us. Joe screamed go and the race was off, Vince sprinted off into the distance with only a few riders on his tail. Caught in the excitement I started rather aggressively until forced to slow on account of my floundering left foot. Finally clipped in we started off down the double track, now eight or nine people down I continued up the first climb. Holding position I continued to the highest point of the course. Just as we begun the tricky descent a rider from behind asked to pass. I looked to my right to inspect a trail that I thought would be a good way for him to pass. Determining that it wasn't even a trail I turned to look ahead, finding myself only feet away from a bridge. With no time to react I rode directly off the right side of the bridge. Shaking my head in disbelief, five riders flew past me. Climbing back onto the bridge I continued my pursuit. Ahead I could see racers trudging through a huge mud pit. As soon as my wheels touched the slick mud I lost traction. Concentrating on my position over the bike and a smooth pedal stroke I avoided dismounting. With the initial frenzy of the gun over, people began to settle into their own speed. Gradually I would catch people on the long fire road climbs. Approaching one downhill turn hotter than expected I grabbed the breaks in an attempt to make an adjustment, instead I caught my bar on a small nearby tree. Staying on the bike I leaned to untangle myself from the tree and ventured on. Passing some people with flats, others on the hill, some through the mud, another just resting (who rests during a race?) I figured I had to be somewhere in the top five. As I approached the descent for the second time, I worried that I would hit the same tree. My apprehension did not disappoint. As I approached the turn I realized I was going even faster than before. This time instead of being lucky enough to wind up on the right side of the tree I wound up on the left. Forced to dismount, I scrambled out of the small gully I found myself in and quickly cut in front of an approaching rider. As I came around with two to go, I could see Vince dipping back into the woods on one of the last climbs. Conserving my energy I prepared for my last lap. Crossing the finish line there was only three miles to go. Giving it all my effort I was surprised when I didn't see Vince on any of the double track, not even a glimpse. The last lap went smoothly until a rider came up next to me on the final double track descent. I chased after him and yet he was still pulling away. Unable to real him in I crossed the finish line alone. Later that day I was notified that I actually did five laps instead of four and wound up finishing third.

Dinner was at a local diner we discovered last time we were up in kingdom. Like the previous night we left the moon roof open so the van stayed cool. This night however it decided to pour. After devouring a piping breakfast sandwich we thought it would be a good idea to check what time the race would start. Twenty minutes. We all jumped into the van and headed down to the start of the race as quickly as we could. Whilst getting ready for the day's race, the sky opened up once again. This was miserable, there is no will to begin racing in the rain. When the rain let up, I threw on a rain coat and headed up to registration then directly up the start finish line. Upon arrival, we found that the C race was ongoing. The race began with a double track climb. You could tell some riders weren't too happy about that. The trail quickly became much steeper and instantly slippery. Ahead I could see almost everyone walking, the ones that weren't soon crashed into the ones that were. This was going to cause a problem. The top was a gradual double wide descent at the end of which the trail doubled back and then continued onto a single track descent. Laden with mud, rocks and roots there was hardly any room to pass. As we came back around to the start from our practice lap, I decided to shed my rain jacket. Struggling to remove my coat three or four other riders road past us. This is how you lose the race before the race. When we finally made it to the line we were dead last.

Go! Caught behind so many riders, there was nowhere to go. Vince managed to surge forward, weaving his way in and out of the other racers. As with the practice lap, there was a huge slowdown where the hill got steeper. Biding my time I balanced at the bottom. Lap by lap riders were forced to walk making it easy to pass. On the last lap I had absolutely no clue where I was in respect to the field but I knew that I needed to pass as many people as I could. This time the climb was deserted. Once at the top I could see one rider just ahead of me and two farther off in the distance. Taking the outside line into the double track I snuck in front of the first rider. I pushed and went off into the grass to pass the second rider. Only a hundred feet ahead the last rider was nearing the single track descent. I knew that if I allowed him to make it to the single track before me the chance of passing him was slim. With only a few feet to the switchback I cut in front of the rider and immediately slowed to avoid blowing through the turn. I would imagine he wasn't too thrilled to see me drop in ahead of him but he would have to deal with it. After no time at all I gained some distance on the descent. There was one last rider in white ahead of me. Vince! Catching up to him we rode to the finish. As the single track opened up we sprinted to the line and finished with overlapping wheels.

The race left everyone's bike in a coat of mud. Finding a nearby hose I rinsed off my bike. Flipping the bike around I found that my fork was practically falling apart! The dust seal had completely blown off, and the spongy lubricator ring was jammed around the stanchion, completely waterlogged. Sigh... Eventually we packed up for the ride home. Sometime during the next four hours I noticed that I could see less of my wheel in the rear view mirror than previously. Assuming it was merely in a different position than before I raised no question. Somewhere in New York we decided to fill up and stretch. As I walked around the rear end of the car my jaw dropped to the floor. Half of my bike was hanging on the bike rack while the front half was hanging almost completely off. Reflecting on how costly that could have been I spent the next ten minutes making sure my bike was tied down as tight as possible. Once in Connecticut we stopped at Georgie's diner and I must say the food lived up to the hype even if figuring out how much each person was supposed to pay was far more complicated than it needed to be.

Overall it was an awesome weekend with Drexel placing 16th on the omnium out of twenty plus other schools. With only two racers that's impressive.


Weekend Omnium Drexel 16/22 with 42 points

Cross Country

Men's B:

 2/29 Vince Dunne 41 points 1:28:16
 3/29 Derek Wladyka 35 points 1:29:00

Short Track XC Men's B:

 2/23 Vince Dunne 41 points
 3/23 Derek Wladyka 35 points

By Brett Houser

How was racing and riding in Vermont for me, you ask? Oh, well, let me get all up in that and regale y'all.

Awesome! But we spent waaaay too much time in Vince's whip, even after driving up there and back. It was an 8-person, full-size SUV though. So when we slept in it I just laid the back two rows of seats down and laid diagonally across them with tons of leg room. Then again, sleeping on the two folded down rows of seats kind of felt like sleeping on a pile of loosely thrown lumber. But, yeah, "whatev's". Personally, I felt like I killed it during my XC laps on Saturday, even though I missed the start of my race. I was supposed to go off with the men in the A field. I ended up going out after the A-women, whom were after Vince and Derek with the B-men, which was either 10, 15, or 30 minutes after I was supposed to head off. I can't remember precisely because I was more than a little confused as to what I was supposed to be doing at the time. So my final time posted may look like crap, but the real splits between my laps actually had me happy with my overall performance. As stated, Vince and Derek came in 2nd and 3rd, respectively, for both days' races in the B field! I'm just happy they chose to ride together during the end of the STXC race on Sunday. Having them finish separately on Saturday is probably the reason Derek just didn't stop riding when he began his fifth lap. Admittedly, given how much driving we did I would have questioned if it was worth if for me to go, but I was pleasantly reminded of how 'worth it' it really was while going for our fun-ride with Vince and Derek after Saturday's XC races. We all got in about 30 miles of riding on that day with the only additional miles for me being the Soopah-Dee (Super-D) race, which we did just prior to our ride through the Kingdom Trails on the other mountain/trail system. Honestly, Tim heckled me into racing the Super-D event. It had this hidden climbing stretch during the start and then the course descended into some type of mild downhill section, going back to the bottom of the slopes where the chairlift was. Since there was no requirements for a full-face helmet I guess it was a necessary thing for me to attempt. And get this! I came in 2nd for the open category!

Out of two...

And by well over a minute...

On like, a 5-minute timed course...

With a guy on a hard-tail XC bike behind me...

That was just having fun...

And not really racing...

Ha! Whatever. I'd blame the surprisingly long climb and a mechanical or two for all that. Well, and Tim. Mostly Tim. The chain getting sucked into my bottom bracket? Nah. Getting off the bike to and kicking the pedals to turn over again while standing in the middle of the course? No biggie. Tim's heckling of me? Oh yeah, that sits with you; burns you into a frenzy that you've got to race off! And that makes really blowing it suck way more than anything else.

Anyway. The STXC was last for the weekend's events/rides and though Vince and Derek did spectacularly in the B field, my short time actually starting a race with the A field was much more, um, let's say, less so. Forgetting where I put my bike while they were staging was the first mistake. The second was forgetting to kick the mud out of my cleats that had built up from standing around in the mud for the better part of an hour before my race. But whatever, those are obstacles we all might face. But the third mistake was a doozy; letting Joe actually see me running to the start-line. I'm pretty sure he rushed the start of the race when he saw me coming. Seriously, I swear it! And then everything else during my one-lap race was just a single, big, continual, utter fail on my part. There was no clipping in to be had. When I did the field had already made it midway up the starting climb. Then there was me trying to impress the first spectators I came across. That was a swing and a miss; whipping out my rear-end on a tight turn and farting the air out from my already-too-low-of-pressure tire. Oh, and after that there was me trying to "shred" it on the descent, a grand idea I hatched to quickly vacate even more air from the tire. And then there were the jumps. Ah, yes. Quite right. They were not necessarily part of the course, nor really something I could have made even if I was riding a functional bike. Or ever, probably. This was at the latter half of my one-and-only lap (with spectators lining the sides of the jumps, of course). This was also when my tire became fully unseated around the rim. I swear, it must've looked like spinning latex sparkler splashing out little white beads all over my legs and across the trail. That was my final mistake though, thank God; going for the jumps. Mind you, doing them with or without a rear wheel was a bad idea regardless. I cased the jump. Oh boy, did I case it. Magnificently and thoroughly, planting my wheel on the front of the double's landing. Then, miraculously, managing to somehow plant my inner thighs around a small tree. How? No idea. But it was a fitting end to my weekend's riding. Seriously, no joke. I loved all of it and don't regret one iota from my litany of mistakes made during my not-even-one mile STXC lap. Also, now I'm really stoked to race the open categories (Gravity and XC) at PSU this weekend!

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Page last modified on September 26, 2013, at 09:46 AM