Last night was Sprint night at the track and I figured I'd try things a little differently than I normally would for a Sprint tourney, especially since I've done so little track racing in the past 6 weeks.
Started off with the motorpaced event again and I felt fine and was in the thick of things, though I was running a much bigger gear than usual (more on that in a moment) and closing gaps was more difficult and then I would run through the guy in front of me with the momentum I would gain. I don't particularly enjoy that yo-yo effect when others do it and there I was doing it... so I felt a little guilty. After 30 laps I decided I was done, not tired, and rolled down to stretch before doing my 200m time trial.
The big gear idea came to me in a dream, literally, since I recognize the fact I have so little leg speed these days (thanks to pushing a big gear on the road too often and doing time trials this year... 55x11 and 180 cranks does not improve leg speed at all). I figured a bigger gear would use my power and not expose my lack of leg speed. Normally I do my 200 here in San Diego on our slow track in a 50x15 (90"), but last night I went with a 49x14 (94.5") to get that extra oomph. The only problem was getting that beast rolled out and wound up in just 2 laps. I got it almost right and probably should have been going just a little faster before I stood up and started my final run to the timing line. As it was, I ended up 2nd fastest qualifier with a 12.35 on a slow night. I was pretty cross eyed by the time I hit the finish line, so I know I couldn't have made anymore of the effort once I was committed to it.
The officials were having a rough night with getting things started, so we ended up waiting nearly an hour before our first sprint rounds as the other races were going on. Staying warmed up was a challenge, but that's racing. Once we finally got our pairings set it was "go time". The first round ride was a 3-up and one of the guys I know well and consider a racing buddy in the sprints (Matt Donovan) and then the 3rd guy I didn't know at all and considered a threat because of that. A 3-up sprint in two laps is complicated, as too much is going on in a narrow window of opportunity. I started in the front but forced the other two to retake the lead as we got through turn two on the first lap and then I was at the back watching and waiting... swerving around to make them guess what I was going to do. Unfortunately for me, Matt rolled off a couple meters off the front and the guy in the middle (the one I didn't know and whose name I can not remember now) let him keep that little space and I misread the guy's speed. Matt jumped going into turn 3 on the last lap and middle guy didn't jump after him right away, so we were at a major disadvantage and Matt got a big, big gap that I just couldn't close on my smaller 88" gear and coming over the top. Consolation round for me!
My consolation bracket ride wasn't much better, as one of the guys (Chris Bennett- another racing buddy) is on his way to Nationals this week. This time I was sandwiched in the middle spot when we started our 4th-6th sprint and got Chris to overtake the lead going into the last lap. He's got great finishing speed and long sprint... so I don't know what the hell I was thinking by jumping coming out of the middle of turn 3-4 and going all out from that distance. Again, I was riding the 88" ("88 is great"), but Chris was on a 92" and used his finish speed to get me by a tire on the line after I opened what looked like the winning gap. I really thought I had it until about 5 meters from the line and I knew I was in serious trouble with him closing in on me. So 5th for the night was my resting spot.
Next was a 24-ish lap 5 mile Scratch race, which is essentially a criterium on the track. I was so blown after the last Sprint round that I was going to go sit in the stands and have a beer with some friends, but I actually really like the Scratch so I figured I'd put the monster gear back on the bike and just try to hang on for as long as possible... which worked for about 12 laps before I thought I was going to lose consciousness. There's cooked and then there's overcooked.
Overall, it was great fun to be racing again and now I actually feel a little better about my general racing form. I've been racing better, all things considered, and look forward to a few more before starting all my show season travel. The crowd was great as usual and a couple of guys from work made the hour long drive south to come watch too- thanks Mike and Kevin.