Track World Championships just wrapped up in Montchiari, Italy. They proved to be a bag of mixed emotions with a little bit of disappointment but also a little bit of excitement thrown in. Our team of 11 was comprised of the core group of familiar faces and we also had several riders making their international debuts.
Day one kicked off with kilos for the tandems and pursuits for the men. Everybody smashed their previous best times for their respective events. Like my teammates, I wanted to ride a new best time and, more importantly, for bragging rights. There are a number of healthy rivalries within the team which helps to keep us all pushing to be better.
My ride in the pursuit qualifier was rough at best. The first five laps or so were good and I felt like I’d gotten on top of the gear pretty well. Then two things happened. First, I got caught. I was paired up against the reigning World Champion and record holder whose time is far out of reach at this point in my career. That said, I knew going in that it would happen and it was all about minimizing damages. The second thing that happened was someone constructed a brick wall on the track over the course of a lap that I ran straight into. At the moment of impact, the wheels came off, the anchor dropped, the parachute deployed, the elephant climbed on my back, or any other hyperbolical phrase that could be substituted, happened. The time started slipping away and it seemed that there was nothing that could be done to grab hold of it again. As much as I tried to get a grip on it, it was ineffective.
Think of it as holding onto the middle of a rope- your lifeline- that if you lose hold of, you fall and you die. When you’re up on time you’re climbing up the rope and moving towards safety. When you’re down on schedule or begin losing time, you start to slide down the rope towards the danger zone. As soon as anchor dropped, it was like the rope was being pulled through my hands and there was nothing I could do to regain a firm hold of it.
There was a movie with a shark or a big fish in it, maybe it was Jaws where they hooked the shark or fish and all of a sudden their line started being ripped out to sea and they couldn’t do anything to slow it down. There was smoke coming off the line and the guys were doing everything they could to stop the line from breaking and the fish getting away. My pursuit felt like that- I was out of control until the very end where I was able to grab onto the end of the rope and claw my way back up a hand hold or two. It was a messy ride but, somehow, was enough to get me into the medal rounds. The evening proved to be quick and relatively painless for a pursuit and finished off with a silver. I was very disappointed with my qualifying time but it was enough to sneak into the finals- by the skin of my teeth. That said it’s not fair to complain and still make it into the finals. It was great to be able to contribute to the medal count.
The next afternoon was my 500m time trial which, historically, has been my weakest and least favorite event. This weekend was a bit different and I was able to set a new best time for my opening lap and tie my personal best time for the event. This marks the first time that rode the National Team time standard in the 500 and not in the pursuit. This is the part that I’m excited about. For the past several weeks I’ve been… blah. Just flat. The legs have been dull and haven’t responded very well to training for a while. It’s been very frustrating and neither Craig nor I can really put a finger on it. Having said that, it’s encouraging to see a new PR for an opening lap and tie my best time in my weakest event. I don’t interpret this to mean that I’m going to become a sprinter, but it’s an indication that life still exists in my legs! I was getting worried.
Track Worlds is over and the local track scene won’t be starting for a while. I feel like this is the end of one book and I’m moving now able to move onto the next. In some ways it seems like putting the track behind me for some time will help me get over the flat, dull feeling. Maybe it’s all mental, maybe it’s all training related, it’s likely a combination of the two, but psychologically I feel like I’m starting fresh. While I don’t want to forget the past three months of track training, camps, or Worlds, or not acknowledge it at all, I’m very glad that it’s over and now in the past.
I’m excited for the road season and to see what comes of this year. A lot of new opportunities are on the plate and I feel very lucky to have them. It will be a busy competition schedule with a lot of new paralympic races and also a full season of able-bodied racing with Peanut Butter & Co. 2011 has to start looking up sometime, and I think things are finally starting to change.