Wednesdays at Wakefield RaceTune 2019
There is nothing quite like grassroots MTB racing. Local courses, friendly opponents, and cheap entry fees—all raced after work on a weekday. When I was a teenager I used to sneak into the local Kingman Farm race series and compete with the University students. I still claim my victory in 1995 as the last time I beat Jeff Dickey outright. However it wasn’t long until the race officials realized I wasn't old enough to sign my own waivers and had to call my parents in. Turns out junior racing wasn’t something the University was ready for, but we made it work.
These days junior racing is a thing, and grassroots racing is alive and well at events like Wednesdays At Wakefield. I first raced W@W in 2013 a few weeks after we moved to Virginia (ironically, I met up with Jeff Dickey that night and he schooled me soundly) and it has become a staple event of our Family’s summer activities. It’s the course that my older kids grew up racing, and my younger kids have been exposed to riding. The course is more or less the same every year, but there are always just enough variations thrown in to keep things interesting.
I decided to use the W@W as a venue to instruct riders who are relatively new to racing off-road, or who want to improve their abilities in specific focus areas that we could apply to the race. My RaceTune clinic was also my first foray into a “real” clinic, and my introduction into everything it takes to design, promote, host and instruct at a MTB skills clinic. And while I hope my students learned one or two items they can take with them, I can certainly say I learned a lot that I’ll use in the future!
As for the clinic, we spent the first half of a beautiful day focusing the basics: balance, stability, positioning, and a little cornering. We also did some work on maneuvers like step-downs and wheel-lifts. In the afternoon we applied these skills on certain parts of the course, and finished with a pre-ride of the course in it’s entirety.
This week will be the first W@W race—I look forward to hearing how the race goes for everyone, but especially those who came out to the clinic and shared some awesome hours working on our skills.