World Police & Fire Games in Fairfax, VA.
It has been a tough week so far. I started the games off by walking in the parade of athletes at the opening ceremonies on Friday night.
Opening ceremonies at RFK Stadium
Team USA (California) Cycling guys
Then a 5:30 am wake up call to end up taking gold in the sprints competition on Saturday. Amidst torrential downpours and flash flood warnings we raced on the Fairfax police departments test track for 600 meter heats until a winner was declared. I was victorious in all 3 18+ open heats to earn the victory.
I was looking forward to the criterium on day 2 and the weather proved to be much better. I was in the final race of the day, so I was able to watch my friends and partners from work compete in the earlier races. The course was a rolling 4 corner crit on smooth roads in downtown Fairfax. My race included local riders from DC as well as all around the world. Early on the race split up and it was easy to see who I was going to be fighting with for the gold. After just a few laps, I was in a break with two other riders, DJ Brew from the Maryland National Capitol Park Police in the DC area, and Muhammad Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi of the Royal Malaysian Police Service (Malaysia). It was clear that they were both very strong, experienced riders and I was going to need to ride very smart to beat them.
For the first half of the 60 minute race we worked together very well and built a large lead on the chasing peloton. I wanted to get a feel of who I was dealing with, so I attacked hard on the backside of the course up a small rise. I went really hard for about 20 seconds and when I looked back, DJ was right on my wheel. I thought maybe we lost Muhammad, but after about 1 lap of chasing, he was back on. I now knew these were serious competitors that really wanted to win, but also had the ability. One, the local favorite and the other had traveled around the world to get the opportunity to win gold for his country. For a while we continued to rotate and share the load, but it seemed that the trust was gone and Muhammad was just soft pedaling when he went to the front. Then the attacks came. Muhammad went once and I chased, he went again and DJ chased. At this point all cohesion was lost and no one wanted to be on the front. At one point we were all side by side not even pedaling. I decided enough was enough and I attacked and got a gap.
I looked back and saw that neither rider wanted to be the one to chase me down. I just put my head down and drove my pedals into the ground. After a few laps the announcer said I had nearly a 20 second gap with about 13 laps to go. I continued on knowing I had to give everything at this point. I was truly suffering and as the laps counted down, so did my gap to the two chasers. I figured they must be working together, and with 5 laps to go, my lead was only 6 seconds. I decided to sit up and try to recover as much as possible before the finish. It was clear we were all tired and didn’t want to do the work so that someone else could win, so the group of chasers began to close the gap on us. We all rotated through for a couple of laps, but our lead continued to dwindle. Coming up to the finish line with 1 lap to go, we were only a couple of seconds ahead of a small group of chasers. Entering turn 1, I was on the front and somehow got about a 3 meter gap on my breakaway companions. With the chase almost on us, I decided to go all in. I sprinted down the hill and flew through turn 2, and as the road began to rise down the backstretch, I got out of the saddle and sprinted hard for 20 seconds all the way to turn 3. I looked back and saw I had a good 25 meters on two chasers. Going into the final turn I kept pushing as hard as I could and as I came up to the finish, I had time to raise my hands in celebration of a hard earned victory. It was an amazing feeling!
I went back to my roots a little bit on the third day of racing. I’m pretty much just a roadie these days, but it all began in the dirt for me years ago. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into with this Cross Country Mountain Bike course though. I did a little mountain biking over the last couple of months to try and prepare, but my handling skills just aren’t what they used to be. The course was just over 6 miles on very technical single track. During my pre ride, I crashed going over a bridge and somehow snapped off my rear brake lever. There was only about 10 minutes until my start and I was still about a 5 minute ride back there. By the time I got to the pits, there was nothing they could do to help me in time, so I just decided to give it a shot with no rear brakes. It was a sprint from the gun and I quickly found out that rear brakes are necessary to control your bike on technical single track when you’re going really fast. I crashed 3 times in the first 5 miles and I was constantly losing time to 3 riders up ahead. From then on I kept things under control and put time into the riders behind me, but continued to lose time to the three leaders. It was a hard fought and disappointing 4th place finish. Thanks to the awesome chiropractor/massage therapist that helped me get back on my feet!!!
I had a much needed rest day on Day 4, so the family and I had time to go see some of the sights in Washington DC. We went to the Museum of Natural History, The National Archives Museum and The Air and Space Museum, as well as The Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. It wasn’t much of a “rest day”, but it is a rare opportunity to see the history of our country.
The Time Trial was on Day 5, and I knew going in that this is one of my weakest areas. It takes time and training to get used to the time trial bike, and the one or two times a month I ride that bike just isn’t enough. The course was a 10 mile out and back on mostly flat terrain. I had a very early 8:15 start time, so we made sure to show up to the course by around 7:00. When we got there, they made us drive off road to a wet, grass/mud parking area. I carried my bike most of the way to the visitor center where I thought registration was supposed to be. Turns out, they wanted to shuttle us on buses to the start/registration area. I ask one of the rangers where it was located and he says, “Oh, it’s just about a mile down the road,” so I just decide to ride out there. 5 miles and several short steep hills later, I’m starting to get worried that I was going the wrong way, when I finally come up to reg. It’s now 7:35 and I don’t have any of my gear, other than my bike, and I know there is no way I’m going to make it back to the car to get ready and then all the way back here to the start. I didn’t even have my phone, so I borrowed someone’s to call Amanda and have her meet me out here as soon as possible. I met her on the road and got ready as quickly as possible and when I finally made it to the start line, I had just a few minutes to spare. With no real warm up, I toed the start line and took off. To make matters worse, my Garmin wouldn’t even turn on after the Mountain bike race, so in a sense I was riding blind. I had no idea what the course looked like and I was just going to have to go off feel for pacing. I went out really hard and after the first few miles I was suffering. I hit the turn around and when I should have been able to really start powering, nothing was there. I pushed as hard as I could on the way home, but it was definitely a struggle. I started off too fast and I paid for it on the back end. To make things worse, I didn’t even know when the finish was coming up until the final 100 meters and I could have at least made up a couple seconds in that final stretch. I ended up finishing with a time of 22:14 which was good for 2nd Place in my division and 2nd overall, but I wasn’t happy with my effort. The winning time by Muhammad Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi of the Royal Malaysian Police Service (Malaysia) was 21:21, so even with a better ride, I probably couldn’t have made up that much time.
Time Trial Podium
I was looking forward to the Road Race on Day 6 of racing more than any other event. It was really more of a circuit race that an actual road race, but the course suited me well and was really fun. It was at the same location as the Time Trial the day before, so I had a chance to do a pre-ride and see how much fun it was going to be. It was on perfectly smooth park roads and had a few short steep climbs shortly before the finish line. My group was doing 5 laps for a total of 37 miles. We weren’t supposed to start until 2:30 in the afternoon, but I wanted to get out early enough to watch my friends and CSP-SAC teammates compete in the earlier races. Jon Clough and Chad Richards both started at 11:30, so Ryan Couch and I who were both going later, got to the course just before noon. When we were in the parking lot getting ready, still miles from the course, we heard a bunch of sirens coming from somewhere. Ryan said, “that doesn’t sound good,” and I had to agree since we were pretty much in the middle of nowhere and the only thing going on that day was the road race. We got our stuff together as quickly as possible and rode out to the course. When we got to the course we saw a bunch of medical and response personnel, and asked what was going on. They told us there had been a really bad crash and several riders were severely injured. The race had been neutralized up the road and they didn’t know if they were going to continue. I felt sick to my stomach for the injured riders and didn’t know what to do. Ryan decided we should try and ride to the start/finish area and where the riders were stopped and see if we could get any more information. We found our friends Chad and Jon as well as the rest of the racers at the finish line where they were waiting to find out what was going to happen. That turned out to be a day none of us will ever forget, as one of our fellow cyclists lost his life in that tragic accident, Carlos Silva, a Police Officer from Brazil. There were other riders severely injured in the accident, Ryan Levins of West Virginia and Darrell Hees of Canada. They both have very long roads ahead of them, but we are hopeful that they will make full recoveries in time. We all know this is a dangerous sport, but you never think that something so tragic is going to happen and my thoughts and prayers go out to all the family and friends of those cyclists that were involved in the accident. It was a tough way to end the day, but calling off the road race was the best way to move forward and there really are more important things in life. I spent the rest of the day with my family and got ready for the final event I would be competing in, the hill climb. Attached is the link to the gofundme account with the full story and updates on all 3 riders.
Inspector Carlos Silva of Brazil age 48- died 7-2-2015 while competing in the WPFG Road Race. Rest in Peace Carlos Racer #109
The Hill Climb event was a short effort, up a 1.25 mile climb that averaged a little over 6 percent. I was hoping to finish in under 6 minutes, but it’s hard to know how your body is going to respond to such a violent effort. The climb was really steep in the first half mile, averaging over 9 percent and I went hard from the beginning. With only 6 minutes of suffering, I thought I could just push hard all the way, but over the steep section, my legs and lungs were on fire. I couldn’t get enough air and my muscles were suffering from the effort. I tried to pace myself the rest of the way, and when I finally crossed the line, I was completely spent. My time was 6:06, good enough for gold in my category, but not quite the time I was hoping for. It was still nice to finish off the week with another gold medal as well as gold in the overall competition.
Hill Climb Podium
After a hard week of racing, I competed in 5 total events, and came away with 4 gold, (1 being for the overall), 1 silver, and 4th place, just out of medal contention in the Mountain bike. Not bad for my first experience in the World Police and Fire Games. Now I’m looking forward to Montreal, Canada in 2017.
Thanks for all the support,