About two years ago, I was still the guy who used to be really fast, but due to work and lack of training was now just fast without doing too much work to be that way. Still competitive at the races and capable of the periodic "upset" win.
Now I am the guy who is no longer fast and who simply talks about how he used to be fast and was even once really fast. I am now "that guy"... the one who really should just admit that he's not fast anymore and just needs to take a step back and be honest and just race with the B group now and not the A group.
It's a sad reality...
So, as you might've guessed, my first night of track racing in two years did not go all that well. I didn't race any of the weekly evening races at the track last year because my work schedule was just too heavy and I couldn't justify leaving work an hour early to go race my bike. And all the travel ate into my training (can you feel the Excuse Wall being built). I only did one race at the track last year... one... and that was time trials, for crying out loud! Needless to say, my legs went into shock last night.I went to the track specifically to race Keirin. I thought we were doing Sprints too, but it was just the Keirin, which is probably a good thing- I didn't have to embarrass myself in two events that way. My first round Keirin ride was a 5 man ride... one of those riders being Angelo Martorell who rides for the Mexican National team and has competed at both World Cup and /world Championship events and raced in Europe... he's good... really good. Angelo and I have raced against each other for about 10 years now, or close to it. The thing I like most about racing with Angelo, who is actually a very nice guy for a sprinter, is that he and I are almost always trying to be in the same spot on the track and almost always end up making pretty good contact. It seems like every time I'm in a Keirin with Angelo, we end up playing the gladiator game and bang off of each other like Keirin should be raced. Elbows, knees, headbutts... good physical Keirin. Last night was no exception... I was sitting second wheel behind the rider directly behind the motor, when the motor pulled off and we had two laps to race. As soon as the motor was gone and we were into turn 2, I moved slightly ahead to try and box in the lead rider a little and as soon as I did, Angelo moved up into my spot. As soon as I settled back a little bit, he was under my armpit with his helmet and elbow. I reciprocated and our delicate dance began! He elbowed me, I elbowed him, we both kind of kneed and butted the other for a little while and then I simply said, "nice to see you again Angelo!" He looked up at me and just shot me a grin.
When we came out of turn 2 on the bell lap, I jumped hard from my #2 spot and... blew a hamstring. I cramped pretty badly, but truth be told, even without the cramp, I doubt I could've done anything when they accelerated. I thought I'd try to go for the win and see if I could hold them off, but the cramp shut me down completely and then the grim reality that I simply wasn't as fast as them set in.So I spent the next part of the evening trying to stay warmed up and tried to stretch the hamstring back out. Since I didn't advance out of the first round of the Keirin, I had to wait for our consolation bracket finale ("losers bracket"), which was a 10 lap Snowball. One of the young guns took off immediately from the gun and got a nice little gap and took the first three lap points. Since he had a nice gap, I figured I'd chase him down and either just bring him back with the group or work with him and stay out front... but I only succeeded in closing the gap and then blowing apart in fantastic fashion and pulling out after 6 of the 10 laps.
Realizing my night was essentially done... I put on my jacket and shorts and headed into the stands to sit with friends and have a few beers and watch the Keirin final and the 30 lap Scratch finale. It was pretty cool to hang out in the fairly full stands (for us) and hang out. I got to see good friends and have a nice tasty beverage.When I got up into the stands, I found my buddy Dan- "Nut Punch"- Large with his lovely girlfriend Alicia (not sure if I spelled that right). It was Dan's birthday, so he was surrounded by friends and the beer was flowing. Best of all, Alicia has a fantastic sense of style! It should also be mentioned that Dan is a great mechanic at Adams Avenue Bike Shop and recently served as a wrench/ moto driver for Mavic at the Tour de Georgia... Also in the stands was my very good friend PP (today is his birthday). PP is a good guy... and I managed to not crack any of his ribs last night. His current project is converting diesel engine cars to vegetable oil cars. It's pretty cool... his smells like Thai food!Once the races were over, it was time for pizza at Lefty's! We had yummy pizza and beer and made Dan feel a little better about being so damned old (except he's younger than me).And this is Richie (again, not sure of spelling). Richie is a new transplant to San Diego from the fine little village known as New York City. Yes, he sounds like a New Yorker and heckles race announcers like one too. BUT... he can ride a bike... very well.
The picture doesn't do justice to the fact he was doing no-handed wheelies on his fixed gear- with just his sneaks on- no clips, no nothing. It was impressive.
So all in all, even with realizing how slow I am (currently), I had a great time at the track and can't wait to get back and try to improve on my performance of last night. I still race and still will race simply because I love to do it. I love racing. Even if I am "that guy".
It was also great to see all the other friends who I didn't get pictures of; Gordon, Tony, Scott, John, Schanda, etc, etc, etc... (I'll get pictures next time).
I look forward to the next race I get to, though next week I'll be out of town again. Hopefully it won't be more than two weeks before I am back on the track again... even if I have to race the B group (and hope for better luck).