Jeff Shikaze

Mountain Biking Thursday May 23, 2024 EDT 
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Tails from the Trails

W.O.W. Haunted Night Race
October 26, 2002 Mansfield

by Jeff Shikaze

W.O.W. Haunted Night Race

Jeff ShikazeThe W.O.W. Haunted Night was an hour long night race...make that a great race. The course was a short 3.5km (approx) loop with a good climb at the beginning followed by a fast tight and twisty single-track loop. The loop ended with a screaming downhill about a half kilometer on a wide fire road. The organizers did a great job with the loop.

The morning showers packed down the sand and WOW groomed the course so that it was free of leaves. This made it fast and much easier to see at night. The weather was great (warmer than usual). Unfortunately the turn-out was low (only about 12 riders). Many were probably scared-off by the morning rain.

My friend Chris and I took an early lead on lap one. He was seeking revenge because I beat him by 6 seconds in the Wine Squeezer. It was the first time (and probably the last time I ever beat him - it was mainly because I drafted off him half the race too). Chris is a much faster technical rider then me so by the end of the last lap I could no longer match his speed in the tight and twisty single track. Mike passed me near the end of the first lap and passed Chris near the beginning of the second lap.

picture courtesy of Wizard of WheelsSo there I was starting my second lap up the long climb thinking ... "I've got to hang on to third". Near the middle of the second lap I started to see lights behind me. It was Codey, a Skiis & Biikes rider that I had raced against before at the weekly Kelso races. I knew he was a strong rider so staying ahead of him was going to be a challenge. As I completed each lap I looked back and he was always about 30 seconds behind. He was pushing me all the way. By the 5th lap I was getting physically and mentally tired. My calves started cramping and I started to make mistakes on the single track. I took bad lines and often had to brake too hard because I miscalculated turns. My motivation was the lights behind me and trying to hold on to third spot. I missed a shift going up one of the last hills and my chain fell of the ring. As I tried to get it back on, my muscles locked. I fought through the pain, jumped off my bike and put the chain back on and cranked up the hill. It was downhill all the way from there and I hung on to third by a mere 15 seconds. Chris finished a strong 2min ahead of me. I was happy to be that close and happy with third. Mike had finished another 2 minutes ahead of Chris. My calf hurt for the next few days but it was worth it. It was a good finish to the 2002 racing season.

Hats off to the WOW organizers. Night Riding + Mansfield - What a blast!

-- Jeff Shikaze
Team: Need 4 Speed


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