So this weekend, as part of my Father's Day "present", I got the day Saturday to go race. So I packed up the stuff and made the drive North to the Encino Velodrome. What is normally less than a 3 hour drive ended up being nearly 4 hours due to Los Angeles traffic. My best friend lives in LA and I love visiting him, but I know I'd lose my mind dealing with that traffic all the time. Jeesh! Fortunately I also got another one of my Father's Day gifts early and had 3 new CDs to listen to: White Stripes (Get Behind Me Satan), Spoon (Gimme Fiction) and Gorillaz (Demon Days). All very good and I highly recommend them.
The Encino Velodrome is one of the many under-funded facilities in this country that is doing all it can with grass roots racing to grow the sport of track cycling. The last time I raced there was probably back in 1996 and the surface has been repaired and that 250M track is a lot of fun again. With really short straightaways and tight turns, it's a real g-force thrill ride at full speed. Unfortunately, it took me until my last race to remember that you make your final move a lot earlier on that track because you can't make up enough ground coming out of the last turn- the distance to the finish line is just too short.
We did a Keirin first and I got schooled by one of the best riders in Southern California- Butch Stinton. Butch has several National titles and a few World titles to his name. He may be in his fifties now, but I promise he isn't slowing down any. In Encino, the Keirin is 8 laps and the motor pulls off with 2 1/2 laps to go. With about 4 laps to go, Butch (who'd been on the motor) pulled off and let a gap open to the motor. After hesitating for second, as I was sitting on Butch and thought I was "golden", I decided to not let the motor get away... and that's when I got schooled. I used up a ton of energy closing the gap to the motor and burned up most of my power. Almost as soon as I got to the motor, the eventual winner attacked and took Butch with him to the line. They both advanced to the final round... and I licked my wounds with a 3rd place.
The next race was a Scratch race and I was in the thick of the action and was instrumental in closing a few gaps and keeping things going. I got my butt whooped, but I was part of it all. That track feels so weird to me at speed.
So up next was the "Minor Final" of the Keirin. I rode a good race, I think anyway, but just didn't have the legs to finish the job and got my second 3rd of the day. It was fun though- hip checks, some good elbowing and leaning on one of the other riders... good Keirin fun. A little practice for the 28th when we do the Keirin qualifier for Nat's on the San Diego track.
To add insult to injury, I even lined up for the 60-lap Points race. Talk about pain... I stayed in for about 30-40 laps. I'm not really sure because I admit I was getting a little dizzy from the speed and the crazy centrifugal forces the track exerts on you. Truthfully, I was getting a little loopy by the time I finally deployed the chute and went to the infield. Maybe it was just the lack of oxygen getting to my brain... I don't know.
All in all, I had a great time over the weekend. I even got a real Father's Day present- a new electric razor for my face (instead of my legs for a change). I feel so grown up now.