"You should head down there and see it," the Wizard was saying, "it's a beautiful view."
The MABRA Crit championship Men's 1/2/3 race was down to its final three laps, and Chris Schmidt and I were sitting under a tree. I noticed that a bird had shat on my leg.
The Wizard, as we'd come to know Chris during his tenure on DVR two years ago, had ridden up with his dog, which he's somehow trained to run ahead of him and provide him with a draft or something. I've never seen a dog look so at ease running next to a bike. The Wiz is undoubtedly a dog whisperer or something; after the stuff I've seen him do on a bike, I wouldn't doubt it.
The bird shit sat there on my thigh and a break of three went: Mayson Haims, Ryan McKinney, and a Kelly rider. It looked promising.
The Wizard went on, "If you just go over the edge [he pointed beyond the sharp first corner] there's a big drop off and the Bay is there; it's pretty impressive."
He's grown a beard, Chris, and it's impressive.
With one to go, the gap was less than fifty yards, and Harley massed on the front, indicating they didn't trust Mayson to win, or maybe they knew they weren't content with first place.
Sure enough, Nima jumped, Brown went with him, and took it at the line. Mayson hung on for third.
With that, the Wizard lifted his leg over his bars, mounted his steed, his dog jumped to attention, and he rode off like a goddamn king.
My day had started watching the 35+ 4/5 race which turned out to be the most exciting race of the day, from my perspective at least.
Yesterday I snapped this shot of Chas moseying to the line at Poolesville, after trying a move with a couple miles to go in the 4s (if you have trouble spotting him, that's my finger pointing to his head).
"No one wanted to do anything except chase down moves," he said, frustrated. "I just wanted to ride, kill it."
Chas is not the kind of rider tempted by power data, periodization, or other such notions associated with training. In fact, he insists on calling time on a bike "riding." Training is for guys who take this bike thing seriously; guys who don't have a smoker and stay up all night roasting a suckling pig and drinking homebrew.
Chas does have a smoker, which he fills with all kinds of livestock whose carcasses he lovingly imbues with flavor.
He is from the Baltimore area, and is quite familiar with a beer from the region known as Natty Bo.
He served in the Peace Corps in Africa, but he's not the kind of guy who stinks of pachuli.
At Leonardtown, Chas decided to go from the gun. He jumped, and by the first turn, this was his gap:
He recognized that the corner would slow the race down; as a mountain biker and excellent bike handler, he approached the corners confidently:
Several laps in, a Bike Doctor rider bridged to him. The two stayed away the entire race. If this doesn't impress you, you know nothing about racing in the lower categories, where 99 riders in 100 wakes up in the morning dreaming of sitting in and finishing in a wild, crash-strewn pack finish.
Chas didn't win, but his 2nd place is his first podium in three years of racing. And he got it in the most amazing manner--staying away the entire race.
Next to the registration tables I noticed the memorial dedicated to fallen soldiers. A fresh plaque dedicated to The Global War on Terrorism was inscribed with three names. A wreath with pictures of young men from Leonardtown, fallen soldiers.
They looked like kids to me, like my teammate Darion, who'd gone down yesterday. They'd probably be about 25 years old, about the age of Tim Brown, who won so magnificently today.
I didn't get out to see the Bay, like the Wizard told me to do. I had to get back home. Leonardtown was a beautiful place, even without seeing all of it, even if the birds do drop bombs on out-of-towners.