The rain went away after a few tentative moments this morning, causing only a 30 minute delay to the start of the events. Yesterday's events were completed yesterday after all, so I didn't get a chance to do Sprint or Keirin. Still, I got to do some fun racing.
I love track racing. Really. The community of track cyclists is, in general, a group of people who ride track because they love to ride track. They tend to be very supportive and friendly and generally willing to help others out. It kicks ass. Don't get me wrong, it ain't like folks aren't still competitive because there are people on the track who I consider friends and have tried to knock them off their bikes during a heated Keirin.
As mentioned in the last post, today's racing was for the Arizona State Track Championsips. Refresher; there is currently no velodrome in Arizona, so they race here in San Diego and they allow us Cali' riders to race with them... we just don't get medals or the state titles (bummer). Yesterday, surprisingly- considering the rain, they were able to hold the sprint events. Today was all time trial events- the ones I really suck at. Kilo- my best ever time is 1:08 and that was the last Kilo I rode in 1996. Pursuit- until today, I'd never ever done one before. As another refresher, I haven't raced once on the track this year, so my legs are way, way green. Prior to today, the only time I have had on a velodrome this year came in April in Australia and 3-4 weeks ago on the SD track when we shot pictures for the catalog... hardly worth mentioning as track time (though my time in Australia was amazing). Suffice it to say, I went to the track today with the aim of 1) not making an ass of myself and B) having a great time... 1 out of 2 ain't bad.
Kilo... I hate the Kilo. "Killer-meter" is the name the guys from the US National team called it when they were here riding with us in '96. There's a reason; Kilo sucks! It is the most painful of all events I have ever done. Hence the 10 year hiatus. As a sprinter, we are supposed to be good at the Kilo. That may be true, but it doesn't diminish the amount of pain any. I hate the freakin' Kilo... but I figured doing a Kilo is better than not racing at the track at all, so I did the Kilo against my better judgement. Well, much to my surprise, I won the 35+ Kilo with a time of 1:18:00... 10 seconds slower than my best, but since it is the first one I have ridden in 10 years, I will live with it. It was a slow day anyway- nobody rode terribly well today- though local rider Greg P' rode an amazing 1:10-something (fortunately he was in a different group).
The start of the Kilo is absolutely critical... and mine felt pretty good for a change. The Kilo is too short to recover from a bad start. You have to nail a Kilo from the second they start you, or you are screwed. I got through the first lap thinking, "this feels pretty good". The second lap kind of went a little wobbly for me. I was going too hard and then not hard enough, so the pace wasn't optimal. The third lap, though I was literally losing my vision (getting "kilo-vision"), felt pretty good too. I thought I would pass out and was getting that ever smaller field of vision when I crossed the line.
The Pursuit is essentially the same thing as the Kilo- a time trial- but longer. Instead of riding one kilometer, I got to ride 3 kilometers! I should have been doing the 1/2/Pro category races, but I am shifting my focus in my racing to Masters events, so 35+ it was. Plus, since I'd never done a Pursuit, I didn't feel like doing a 4K Pursuit when I could just do a 3K. Yes... I wimped out of the 4K. I was paired up with a great local guy, Chris Nekarda. Chris is a fellow sprinter, so he and I were joking about how painful it was going to be for people to watch two sprinters doing a Pursuit. It was painful alright... Having never done a Pursuit, I just went on what I understand of a Pursuit, which is that you don't go as hard as a Kilo because there is no way you can hold that kind of pace and not pass out and vomit. My start was ok, maybe a little too slow, but it didn't stink.
(I swear the holder's hands are on the saddle and not something else...) Chris and I were neck and neck for the first 6 or 7 laps, but Chris began to really pull away on lap 8 of 9 and got his bell lap about a 1/4 lap ahead of me. I heard them ring the bell for his last lap, so I floored it and probably had my fastest lap of the race- managing to hold him to a 2 second vistory. However... since he was in a different age bracket, I still managed to win my age group bracket! Yeah for me! (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I rode a 4:13:06 for race... not quite a World Record pace.)
A special thanks goes out to Cindy from Sabino Cycles (and the Desert Foxes) for snapping the pictures. Cindy kicked some ass in her own races as well. If you are in the Tucson area, go see Cindy and buy a Masi from her. Tell her the Masiguy sent you and she'll maybe be nice to you... or throw you out on yer' arse. Another thanks goes to my lovely wife for allowing me to sneak out of the house for the day to go race. She even brought our daughter and the dog down to watch the races and snap a few photos as well.
After the race, my daughter proclaimed, "this is the best day ever!" I can't say that I would argue that point with her.
The bike rode so fantastically. It was my first time to ride this version of the frame "at speed". I've had it since April and have been unable to race it yet this year, thanks to business being so good and having so many projects. I have to say that the frame is amazing. I am biased, I admit it. I am paid to think that the bikes I sell are great... but this thing KICKS ASS! I was so happy with the way it handles and the acceleration. It was perfect for me... and it can be perfect for you too... in a few months time (frame, fork, headset and Masi bar tape- avaialable around November- 4.82 lbs for 56cm frame, fork and headset). I love it!
All in all, it was a great day for a track racing bike nerd. It was great to get out and "be me". It was also great to ride with all the fine folks from Arizona. I have a ton of respect for these folks who drive from all parts of Arizona to come out here and race- that's dedication. Great job guys/ gals!
(In all fairness, I have to point out that I was the ONLY rider in the 35+ category today, so by default I was the winner in both of my events simply because nobody else showed up. Since I am not an Arizona resident, I get neither the gold medal nor the state champ jersey... unless my great friends there want to make me an honorary Arizonan- which I will happily allow.)