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RIT Race Reports

By Derek Wladyka

We decided to head out around 8pm Friday night. Magellan and Josť Swervo on the road. With a navigator so helpless even with the help of gps and a driver who thinks "Big Bertha" owns the road our arrival was anything but immanent. Amazingly, we successfully made it more than half way there without any mishaps. Well, except for the fact that Vince realized that he forgot his credit card at some sushi restaurant. This is going to be an expensive weekend. Then we completely missed exit 19 and were forced to take exit 20. Thankfully this error only added 15 minutes or so to our overall trip time. Arriving safely to the town of Roxbury we drove around for a few moments searching for an inconspicuous place to stay. Finally we decided on the library, as a Drexel student we always feel safer near books. Thinking it would be harder to steal my bike if we parked near the edge of the parking lot rather than dead in the middle, I implored Vince to move. Backing into the spot, "Vince... we're really close to that guard rail" *keeps backing up* BUMP. Too afraid to leave the car I sat in my seat hoping that my wheels weren't between the rail and Bertha. Vince hopped out and walked around to inspect the potentially weekend ending damage. "How bad is it?" "You don't even want to know how close that was to your wheels." Sigh. Whilst readying for bed a sputtering car pulls into the lot. Curious we both look over. A hobbling gentleman steps out of the car screaming about getting his axe. Keys in hand Vince ready's to make a fast get away. Two others emerge from the car. Noticing we are in the parking lot, they continue to be all loud and rambunctious like. Our well earned parking spot, stolen from right below our noses we skirt out of the parking lot in search for a more peaceful haven.

The next morning, after numerous atm transactions we wound up with enough money for our registration fees and some food. At the mountain we spotted North Eastern, as I hung out the window to inquire about registration, I was sure that I could feel the second hand embarrassment from the seat next to me. It's a silent killer. Oh well. After some quarrel over our eligibility to race in A's, we finally convinced them to let us race. At which point I instantly thought to myself "I hope that wasn't something I would soon regret." Standing at the table, Ian (RIT), after viewing this transaction informed us that the descent was tricky with several sizeable rock drops. WHO PUTS ROCK DROPS IN A CROSS COUNTRY RACE?!?! Anyway, as I pull up to the line I remember that one of my brake levers is tilted down farther than the other. So I'm obviously going to fix it now, what better a time than right before a race? So swinging my camelback off and taking out my multi tool I got several voices of concern but meh, I'm an ace mechanic so it's all good. Brake lever realigned, I packed up and was race ready, until Forest screamed go. Basically what he had said while I was wrenching was that it was almost a twenty minute climb so don't go burning yourself out in the first few hundred meters. Which apparently, in A talk, translates to "It's a sprint to the top FOOLS!!" So for most of the climb I held up the rear.

Eventually we started to spread out and soon there were only several riders in sight on the long straight segments of the climb. At the top we darted in and out of the woods several times before beginning the descent. Ahead I spoted a daunting sign "Rock Drop" eek. It was rather bumpy but I made it around the first drop smoothly and dabbed on the second. Then there was a steep rocky, loose section which I went into a little hot. Bouncing all over the place, in an attempt to recover I came to a standstill and then leaned against a nearby tree. Looking down I noticed that my fork was locked out. To be honest I noticed that the front end did feel rather stiff but not stiff enough to warrant looking down for a second. Apparently, during my mad wrenching at the start line I accidentally released the trigger and locked out my fork. At the bottom again I could see I was closing in on some riders. Up the climb I managed to pass one. Back on the descent I wanted to make the second go around this time. A Steep downhill to a sharp right, interrupted by a parallel log, using too much front break and apparently leaning slightly too far forward sent me right over the bars. I tried to look cool and step over my handlebars but there was no such luck. A rider behind me who was already walking just watched me helplessly tumble and smash my knee into a rock on the side of the trail. The remainder of the race went smoothly until I reached the descent again. Armed with the knowledge I had learned on my previous laps I knew just what to do. I would lean wayyy back, with my chest over my seat. "This is sure to work, I won't go over the bars; that's for sure." And I was right! I didn't go over the bars but I soon realized that I couldn't steer from all the way back there and so right off the trail and into a ditch I went. Taking a lesson from Ned Overend, I decided to walk the next drop section. Three of us came upon the loose rocky section and two of us stopped and the third, more balzy than both of us, stopped when he hit a tree half way down the section. 13th of 15 starters. Man, I need to be faster. In retrospect, If I didn't stop to eat and take my HR strap off then I would have finished 11th.

That night was pizza for dinner. As usual there was mass amounts of confusion while ordering and paying. That night we slept on the mountain, which was way better than yesterdays sketchy lot.

Sunday was the STXC race. I thought this race would be troublesome for me because the hill was too gradual and short. To cause people to fall off the back. During the practice run, my legs began burning on the short ascent. The climb flattened out and after a small kicker you were spit out across a ski trail. A gradual descent lead you right to a small rock filled ravine. Which seemed to be sending people all over the place. Then it was your choice of three trails, none more direct than the other. Between some barrels and over the double. There was a bridge with a step down directly after witch you would hit three berms in rapid succession. Two or three pedal strokes would then launch you off a three foot drop to flat. This was the most concerning part for me since this is something very far out of the ordinary. Initially I was inclined to go around but watching the C race I noticed at least half of them were hitting the drop. At that point there were no options, either hit the drop or downgrade to C's. The first time off of it I was a little apprehensive. I approached too slowly and accidentally pulled up, pulling out of my pedal on the right side and with a crack landed on my seat safely rolling out. Now that that was out of the way... Practice lap over, it was time to line up. Go! As everyone sprinted away from the line I looked down and realized that I wasn't even clipped in. For the first few laps I was trailing off the back. As I continued racing I began to feel more comfortable with the drop and some of the more challenging lines. I found that if you went to the left of the gully you could almost clear it without any loss of speed. Eventually riders began to slow. The little hill was wearing them down! Unfortunately it was wearing me down too but let's pretend it wasn't. With only 5 minutes to go I flew off the drop and accelerated into the blind corner. Staring me in the face, as any rock star would, was a downhiller just chilling on his bike in the middle of the course. With a well placed scream of surprise on my part, he managed to turn his wheel just enough so that I was able to skirt by. Oh downhillers.... Any whoo, I wound up passing several riders, making me feel like I was eating up the field. Apparently some of them I passed twice so I wasn't doing as well as I had thought but well none the less. Thanks to Tim's motivational taunting and a group of RPI riders who I had to convince to cheer me on (they actually continued for several laps) I was able to finish 8th of 16 starters.

Long story short (this part not what you just read!) when I was about to put my bike on Bertha I noticed a small crack in my seat tube. Upon further inspection it was determined that the carbon was indeed cracking and my seat post was actually bent. I suppose that cracking noise wasn't my foot pulling out of my pedal. So word of wisdom, either don't ride as hard as me or just a heck of a lot smoother.

Thanks for listening!

(Really though, I need to make these shorter.)

Results: Men's A Cross Country (15 starters) 13th - Derek Wladyka - 15 points DNF - Vince Dunne Men's A Short Track Cross Country (16 starters) 8th - Derek Wladyka - 35 points 9th - Vince Dunne - 30 points

Ominum: Weekend: 17/19 Overall: 14/27

By Vince Dunne

Apparently I can't have Derek or Tom mention me in their race reports and that be enough on my end haha. therefore, i'll give a brief synopsis of the race UVM race at Kingdom and Penn State, followed by my race report for the RIT race this past weekend.

The race UVM race was the first time that I have done XC on an actual MOUNTAIN (your still my favorite, wiss and belmont). The mountains of Vermont were amazing, such that I have never seen anything like it before in person. This was my first race with Derek, and it was nice to have a teammate in the B cross country race with me. At the start of the race, I sprinted away then settled into the long climb once i was well away from the pack. I completed the first lap in first place, and then was joined by a rider from UMass and Dartmouth on the climb during the second lap. I dropped down to third place but caught the Dartmouth rider on the last lap, and finished with second place. To my utter surprise, I did not have a single crash! The climb was challenge, but the view at the top was so beautiful that i was tempted to stop during the race to admire its magnificence. The decent was technical, long, fast, and bone rattling to the point where my fingers almost lost the strength to hold on and i was singing " Jesus, take the wheel. Take it from my hands, cause I can't do this on my own. I'm letting go! So give me one more chance to save me from this road I'm on. Jesus, take the whhEEEEllllll!! Carrie Underwood - Jesus Take the Wheel. There was also a small jump that some students made near the top of the climb that i enjoyed doing stunts off every lap.

The short track race the next day started off miserably. It was cold, raining, and Derek and I were late to the start. Derek and I started the race at the back of the pack in dead last. At the shout of "GO!" I quickly made my way to the middle of the pack, and I continued to pass riders as they got off their bikes to walk up the steepest and muddiest part of the climb. I worked my way from last place up to second place, and on the last lap Derek had closed in on me. It was a sprint to the finish and i managed to stay ahead by half a wheels length. 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

The race weekend at Penn State has been my favorite so far this season. It was great to have Brett H, Tom, and Derek racing with me that weekend. Like always, the car rides in Big Bertha to races are always memorable. Derek and I started the B cross country race together on a long and boring fire road climb up the mountain before dropping into the trails. Half way up the climb i realized that my rear tire pressure was too low, I forgot to turn on the clutch for my rear derailleur (essential for not dropping my chain since i run one ring in the front), and my front wheel QR was not tightened. Regardless of all those mishaps, I charged into the world's rockiest, rocks on rocks on rocks, with extra rocks sprinkled on top, with a extra side of rocks. I was on the rear wheel of the first place rider when he crashed, and i would have rode right over him if it werent for the ample amount of large jagged rocks that deflected my front wheel onto another line. I ascended the mountain on single-track, exclusively made up of large jagged rocks, for what seemed like forever. I was in first place with Derek not far behind, and i was about to drop into the decent when I got a flat. At that point i knew the race was over for me because I had nothing to fix my flat, and i had to ride for miles of trail to finish the lap before i could get something to fix it

I thought the XC course was awesome, and I was very disappointed that i had to DNF the cross country race due to my lack of preparedness. I believed that if i didnt get a flat, i could have won that race, and i was determined to prove that in the XC time-trial. The TT began with an up hill fire road, *side note: i finally got to put my track stand to good use when starting the time-trial!* and followed by a small, poorly marked, entrance onto the long, super rocky trail. Eventually the trail turned into a very fast dirt single track, and then back to more rocks, a double wooden bridge, a final rock garden (which i crashed over my bars on), and then a fun jump at the end where i finished with a sweet bar turn for extra style. (this sentence is specifically for Derek and his 29er carbon full suspension)The responsiveness of my aluminum hardtail and the unmatched handling and acceleration of 26 inch wheels definitely gave me surgical advantage to navigate all the rocks. Finished with the fastest time in the time-trial a minute a head of the second place rider.

Penn State was without a doubt my favorite weekend with my favorite courses. Cross country: Men's B (2 laps) 2nd place, Derek Wladyka, 41points DNF, Vincent Dunne Individual Time Trial: Men's B 1st place, Vincent Dunne, 48 points 4th place, Derek Wladyka, 30 points

  • i'm getting way too tired to keep up all this writing, so i'm gonna try to make RIT short. READ DEREK'S FOR MORE DETAIL*

After returning home from Penn State, i sustain a hefty cold. I took the whole week off from riding in an attempt to recover. At the start of the race, i felt like i was at 40% of my ability and i was about to start my first "A" category cross country race with 1,400 feet of climbing per lap for 3 laps. I tried to stay with Derek on the climb to the top of the mountain, but eventually fell off at about 700 feet up. I was feeling very sick, but eventually made it to the decent. The decent was like nothing I had ever ridden before. It was SO much fun! Rocks, roots, thick mud, swampy grass, dense fog, super steep drops, and big rock drop offs. I had a serious lack in concentration at times due to feeling sick, which cause me to crash dead on into a small tree after going off one of the rock drop offs. Other than that, rode the decent, full force, without dismounting because i knew the climbing wouldn't be worth it if i just half-assed it on the way down. However, i crashed out of the race at the very bottom of the decent. I tried to bunny hop a wide rain gully at full speed on the ski slope, hit my rear wheel on the edge of the landing, and was throw thru the air. Luckily, 14 years of ice hockey, and 10 years of street skate boarding had taught me how to prepare, mid flight, for a hard landing. I slide for 15-20 ft on a downhill section of thick gravel and rock chunks. I got up immediately, to the cheers of the downhill racers waiting for the ski lift, and continued to ride to the start/finish. I told the official that i was dropping out of the race, my left arm completely covered in bright red blood, and rocks in my front left shin and knee. I rode my bike over the medic center where they cleaned my injuries. I insistently refused stitches for my arm, so they bandaged me up and i was good to go.

The next day was the XC short track race. I felt sore from the previous day, but all the jumps, burms, wooden bridges, and 3 foot drop off were to good to pass up. Once again, Derek and i started in last place for the short track. We worked our up the pack lap by lap, but Derek eventually pulled away on the short steep climbs. I knew i wasn't going to win the race, so i tried get the biggest air and have the best style off the jumps and drop offs for the fun of it. The short track course was one of the most fun courses i have ever ridden.

Results: Men's A Cross Country (15 starters) 13th - Derek Wladyka - 15 points DNF - Vince Dunne Men's A Short Track Cross Country (16 starters) 8th - Derek Wladyka - 35 points 9th - Vince Dunne - 30 points

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Page last modified on October 08, 2013, at 04:59 PM