Cycling … It’s What’s On Tap For Today’s Post

The 2015 World Police & Fire Games were recently held in Fairfax, Virginia.  Tom and some of his fellow firefighter colleagues, as well as police and law enforcement officers, from around the world showed up in full force to compete in the “Olympic-like” Games…. dubbed “The Games of Heroes”.  Tom competed in both road cycling and mountain biking events.  Let’s see the competition in images and stories…. this way ….

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One of the Road Cycling events, and the first that Tom competed in, was the Criterium race.  Crit races are generally a mile or so circuit lap, repeated for a specified amount of minutes, then a designated number of additional laps.  In The Games, the competitors are divided in age groups, to keep the competition fair.  Funny because often the strongest riders are not necessarily the youngest.  When the start was whistled, off they went on their first lap.  I think that there was about 20 in Tom’s group at the start.

20150628-DSC_3557To help cheer Tom on, my cousin Violet and her daughter Nicole, who live nearby showed up and kept me company during those tense moments.  It was great to see them.

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Before long, the group dropped over half of the riders, leaving just 8 lead riders.  The racers had timing chips, so that kept the # of laps straight, as several of the riders were “lapped” before the end of the race.

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It was easy to spot Tom because thankfully he had on his sun sleeves, which help keep him safe from the sun.  Today, they were also the identification key for me as they zipped by with each lap.

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About 1/2 way through the race, the 8 riders thinned out to only 6 in the lead group.  Tom kept his position in that group.

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On the bell (final) lap, the 6 riders sprinted to the finish line.

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Tom finished in 3rd Place … not bad for a guy that, though he rides his bike almost daily, hadn’t raced on the road in a very long time, especially in a crit race.  See, in a crit race, it’s more of a strategic race and it’s not necessarily the strongest rider, but rather the “smartest” rider that wins.

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After the victory laps for the 3 medalists, it’s time for the Medal Ceremony.  Congrats guys!

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The next day, it was on to the Mountain Bike Cross Country race and there were many more medals on the line.

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The start of the race featured a bit of a road climb to “thin the pack” into the singletrack of the course.  Tom went into the course in 2nd position.

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While Tom was racing in his age group, one of our friends Johnny Sobkowski (Sunrise FD), was racing in his younger age group and went on to take 3rd Place.

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Another friend, Scott Sherry (Palm Beach FD) was also competing in his age group.

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Tom arrived to finish his 1st lap, navigating in preparation of running through the ribboned route through the scoring area.

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As he entered his 2nd lap, he was situated in 1st place…. Go Tom!

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Todd Neal (Broward County Fire & Rescue) finished up his 1st lap as well.

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Finally, after 1 hr, 18 mins Tom emerged to finish his race.

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Such determination shown in the fierce look of a competitor, as Tom crosses the finish line in 1st place!  WooHoo!

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John Cole (Ret. Charleston FD) was also racing and part of our traveling group.  This was just the 2nd race ever for him.

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Gil, who was from Washington state, works for the National Park Service and finished his age group in 1st place as well.

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On the podium stood Malcolm Bow (Peel Regional Police Dept from Ontario) in 3rd Place, Tom (my person hero and sherpa & Ret. Dania Beach FD) claimed 1st Place, and Randy Winwood (Nanpa FD from Idaho) picked up 2nd Place.  I was quite proud of Tom.  It was a mere 14 years ago when he last competed in “The Games” and took 1st Place honors as well … guess the guy still has it!  LOL

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After the races, it was time for some beers and lunch at a local brew pub.  Good times with good friends, for sure.

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In celebration of the games also, we had a wonderful dinner with my cousin Violet and her husband, Bob.  Such wonderful memories!

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At this time, I had to say goodbye to Maria Scherer (Dale City FD), who graciously hosted John, Todd, Tom & I during our stay at The Games.  She was so supportive of the guys and a great new friend for us as well.  🙂

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© 2015 Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Note:  This blog post also takes a moment to honor the memory of Carlos Silva, Brazil PD and also in thought for the 2 other cycling competitors injured during the road race cycling event.

 

“The Games of Heroes”

Taking a break from my usual wildlife and nature photography, to bring you a slice of the “A” … adventure photography in the “TNWA Photography” name, as seen through my eyes at the 2015 World Police & Fire Games in Fairfax, Virginia.  More in that in just a bit …

It was the start of 30 days, on the road, of road and mountain biking for Tom and 2 of his firefighter friends.  Yes, I was pretty much along for this ride, so I had to shoot when & where I could.

So on Jun 24th, Tom & I set off on the road to Charleston, SC … in his pickup filled to the brim with toys … 4 bicycles, 3 RC glider planes, 2 fully packed camera bags, 2 tripods, 4-5 backpacks, 2 suitcases, enough tools and bike supplies to open a mini bike shop, cooler, and 2 laptop computers.  We were prepared for just about anything … good thing too.  🙂

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Once we arrived in SC, we spent the night and continued on our journey to Fairfax, VA.  Once there, the first order of business was the athlete registration/check-in.

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Dubbed “The Games of Heroes”, this was a huge international event … it celebrated our police, fire, and law enforcement athletes from over 12,000 athletes from about 70 countries.  Some were there in full celebration of their country’s heritage, such as the athletes from Norway.  My new friend Maria, herself a firefighter for Dale City, VA, got on the fun end of this photo op.  🙂

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Of course with the USA having the host country honors, Team USA was there in full force.

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Tom (my hubby & “sherpa”) and his fellow co-worker Todd were both quite excited to be there.  It was Tom’s 2nd World Games, but Todd’s first.  The next day, the guys (Tom, Todd, Johnny, and John) went to trial ride the mountain bike course, but conditions were deteriorated and pre-riding was not suggested.  There they met up with a Belgium police officer who was also competing in the mountain biking event.

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At these “Games”, it was celebrated much as the real Olympics are celebrated … complete with a Grand Opening Ceremony and a Parade of Countries featuring the athletes.  So the guys decided to represent their country the best that they could.  I was loving those flashing USA glasses!  LOL

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The athletes had to enter through their tunnel when it was time for their country to march.

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So off went the guys to join their fellow competitors.  As we said our goodbyes before leaving them, we reminded them … Don’t forget to turn those glasses lights on!

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Maria & I, as spectators entered RFK Stadium in Washington DC and grabbed a seat quickly … yes, basking in the sun.  It was only about 5pm.

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I remember being impressed with the flags of the nations represented at the games displayed in the center of the stadium field.

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We watched patiently, with a sense of awe and pride for each of the competitors, and felt their huge sense of accomplishment of them just being there.  Of course, our friends from Norway were marching proudly as usual.

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Finally, the USA began their march through the stadium.  Now, let me see where Tom is … and I hope I can find him in the sea of USA athletes!

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What seemed like an eternity went by, but finally there he was, pointing at me as he spotted me near the front of the crowds.

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John (Ret. Charleston FD), Scott (Palm Beach County FD), Tom (Ret. Dania Beach FD), & Todd (Broward County Sheriff’s Office FD) – all firefighters – were marching together.  All of them will be competing in the mountain bike race in just a few days.

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There were many speeches going on during the ceremony … some local leaders, heads of the World Police & Fire Games, TV stars, well known athletes, but one impressed me more than the others.

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Retired General and Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was present and address the athletes and the spectators, with a special memorial re: 9/11, amongst other messages.  It was truly an honor, no matter what political views you have.

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At the end of the evening, as there was in the beginning of the ceremony, 2 fire truck ladder hoisted up a huge American flag in a show of support and celebration.  Oh yeah, Let The Games Begin!

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Images and stories from the cycling events will follow in another post, so stay tuned!

© 2015 Debbie Tubridy