There is a stupid quote, I never liked Nietzsche, that goes "that which does not kill me, makes me strong." I never liked that one at all. Nietzsche always seemed a little too dark to me. I always preferred the "no matter where you go, there you are" philosophers.
Anyway, last night at the track was Match Sprint qualifying for US Elite Nationals. Top 5 would qualify for Nat's, so the heat was on... big time. Second race on the new track frame, why not do a National qualifier? Makes sense to me.
I was 9th fastest (12.78) out of the 12 qualifiers, on a very slow night. That was honestly one of the slowest 200M time trials I've ever ridden. My PR on our track was back in 1996, with an 11.4, so my time last night was far from memorable. On top of it, I rode a technically crappy ride; I wasn't going fast enough before I hit the timing line and then I was riding all over the sprint lane like I was in the middle of some sort of ugly full-body spasm.
9th got me paired up with 3rd for my first round sprint. 3rd just happens to be the current Elite State Sprint champ, a guy who is already qualified for Nat's and one of the fastest guys around at the moment. That was my first ride. Another quote, one I like a lot better, is "even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and again". I actually managed to hold on and win this first sprint. To this big fella's credit though, I caught him by surprise because he knows absolutely nothing about me and how I ride. I was able to get just enough of a gap to hold him off by a tire at the line- it was incredible! What a sprint! He and I were both pretty happy with how it went, since it made for a great drag race. However...
I fired all my shells on that one sprint. My second round ride was against a guy who is a friend of mine and he pulled the friend card on me! "I've been working really hard this year to go to Nationals..." Ah man! I mean, I'm just a slacker doing this for fun and the chance to say I qualified, it isn't a "season goal" for me. He won, but I made him work for it. He got me sleeping and jumped me when I dropped the pace heading into turn 2 on the last lap. He used all the banking to get up to speed and it was over before we got into turn 4. Good job Darrell!
Ok, now it's off to the Consolation (also known as Loser's) Bracket for 5th to 8th. Since our boy the State Champ (who won the whole thing by the way... I was the only one lucky enough to beat him) was already qualified for Nat's, his space would be given to the next rider down, meaning 5th and 6th would get their tickets punched. So all I had to do was get second in a 4-up sprint. Possible. However...
In our group were two teammates who are 2 of the 3 guys who are the State Champ Masters Team Sprint team... just my damn luck. Plus, not only are they fast, but they are also good guys who I like and have also been working very hard to get to Nat's. Well, they rode exactly as I anticipated they would, although I actually thought they would jump sooner than they did. They rode 1-2 and the faster of the two took possession of the sprint lane and the second stayed pretty much a length behind and off his hip to made a wide obstacle- meaning getting around him would leave it impossible to get to his teammate with enough speed left to contest the final sprint for the line. So, as I expected, they took the last two spots for Nat's. Good work TC and Ryan.
Overall, I was way happy with the events of the night. I mean, I got to feel like I was fast for a few fleeting moments and I rode a lot smarter than I had my previous sprint outing this year. Plus, in two weeks I get another shot at qualifying when we do Keirin.
Oh yeah, the part related to my job... The Bike!
It was incredible again. I really love this thing already. It is stiff... really stiff... and rides really great. It's stiff enough, in fact, that on two or three occasions I got the rear wheel to skip when I jumped really hard. I have a fairly jerky pedal stroke right now and I pulled a little too hard and got some skip. That still shows how tight and stiff those stays are. I definitely didn't get held back by the bike. Hopefully it will get a shot at the Keirin and we can go to Nat's together- wouldn't that be fun?