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My Race on a Brompton [@ BUSC 2014]

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Perennial Cycle has been the host of the Brompton US Championship for the past two years. Meeting all of the racers has made me want to participate, despite the fact that I'm not a racer (I must be a competitive commuter). This year BicycleSpace, a shop in Washington DC, hosted the event which gave me the opportunity to do this. Perennial Cycle has a lightweight, speedy demo Brompton that I rode quite a bit last summer. I felt this S2L-X would be a great choice for the event, so a few weeks before the race I started putting some miles on the bike with my sights set on losing a few pounds as well as getting in shape (I was taking my cues from Spencer Morse who is one of the strongest Brompton racers I've seen).

busc7out on an extended morning ride to work before heading to DC

I got in the best shape I can muster (I'm a 51 year old realist) and did in fact lose the 5 pounds I was aiming for. I made some tweaks to the bike, but didn't bother up'ing the gearing as the 7% reduced gears were pretty much all I could handle. Race day brought on a sickening mix of heat and humidity. This was certainly an edge up for me having been raised by two South Dakotans that were raised during the depression. They happened to be Norwegians as well, which meant that until it hit 100° the temperature was never mentioned and then only in a neighborly fashion ("I sure hope it´s not so hot that the day lilies droop..."). I happened to be standing with my bike near Jordan as he called out for the racers to start lining up their bikes, so I went right up and set my folded bike in the front row.

DSC_9469f turning on my camera before the race

I envisioned myself running up and quickly unfolding my bike and heading out first, but running up the lanes with a lot of people was challenging to do without crashing. I patiently worked up to my bike and methodically unfolded it and hit the road with probably less than 20 people in front of me. All good.... Up and riding, feeling good on the bike with the seat height correct and even straight : )

busc5Racing to my bike at the start

The first half lap was a big loop through and around a couple of RFK Stadium parking lots. By the time I finished this section I was past almost all but the speed demons. The next section was cobblestone that wove through Congressional Cemetery. This started with a fairly steep climb and by the time I got to the top of this I could see a group of four racers that were in the lead. At this point I passed the last person other than the lead group and saw a big strong rider pulling up behind me. It was Peter of NYCE Wheels and I smiled and mumbled something incoherent. He drafted me for a moment, but was quickly moving past me nodding for me to grasp his draft. I managed it for all of about 10 seconds and then yelled "good luck" to him and in a flash he was gone. With the first of my 3-1/2 laps completed the race was feeling pretty lonely. Not a great feeling being that I had envisioned working with someone to break the wind with, but before the second lap was completed I had a lone rider ahead. I caught and passed him (Alex) for a while and then he caught and passed me, and this back and forth went on. At about lap 2-1/2 Alex and I caught a rider that had been holding with the lead pack, but now the heat was getting the best of him and he was dragging a bit. Alex and I passed him and continued our cat and mouse past lap 3. With about a mile left in the race I passed Alex for the last time. The heat must have worked him down, so I crossed the finish line in fourth place thinking I was done, but got no signs from anyone and I just wasn't 100% sure if I had done all the laps (duh). So without even thinking it over I went on to do one more lap. I feel pretty silly about that, but it just points out is how unseasoned a racer I am.

busc6these are all the BUSC 2014 racers that were at last year's BUSC in Minneapolis

The weekend was super fun and while I loved being part of the actual race, I have to say that all the weekend's events were an absolute blast. Being with a group of Brompton superfans is a ball : ) Friday night at the British Embassy, Saturday's Brompton Urban Challenge, and Sunday's Championship race were all great fun to be a part of. If you have a chance to participate in the Brompton US Championship in the future, I'd highly recommend it. While my post talks about the race in a competitive tone, the majority of participants are out to ride with a large group of politely paced racers that are all connected by there lovely Brompton Folding Bicycles.

Here are some links regarding the weekend: -my pictures on Flickr -gallery by Amy Ta -BicycleSpace's recap (with event video) -Washington Post article and video about BUSC 2014 -Brompton US Championship website

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