Monday, October 3, 2011

Track Nationals

Photo: Gus Sarmiento
Track nationals are done and dusted. While in LA, I raced the 3k individual pursuit and 500m time trial. Mentally, I went in to nationals a bit flat. I’d moved to southern California two weeks earlier and wanted to enjoy my new home instead of riding inside in circles. I was able to convince myself, make a deal with my mind, that if I gave it my all on the track it meant I could really enjoy my offseason. It worked. After a few sessions on the tracks in San Diego and LA, I was able to rally. 

My first event was the 3k IP. After a sub-par performance at World Championships in Italy earlier this year, I was looking forward to putting down a solid ride. I wanted a technically sound ride while taking into consideration the track conditions and my motivation. In qualifying, I was in the last heat of the day paired with Kelly Crowley. She’s had a phenomenal season thus far and I knew it would be a good pairing. The clock counted down and I came out of the gate. Any lack of motivation I had going in quickly turned around when the gate opened. It was on. A quick opening lap was the set up for a faster time than planned for but I was game. The lap counter ticked down from 12 and before I knew it the bell was ringing- one lap to go. After crossing the line, it was enough to qualify first and move on to the finals that evening. Not to totally blow my ego up, but by all accounts- friends and strangers- it was a very smooth ride. The final on the other hand, well, that was a different story.

Photo: Rob Evans
After a quick lunch and recovery it was time to turn around, and head back to the track for finals. I was pumped. This was my chance to defend the national champion’s jersey and keep it for another year. The final for gold was a ride off against Jenny Schuble. The plan was to do the exact same thing as the morning session- just ride my ride. As the clock clicked down, my excitement levels were growing. As soon as the gate opened, it was like unleashing the hounds of hell. There’s a difference between “going out hot” and “blazing f’ing fast” with the latter being something you’d generally like to avoid while racing 3000m. Well, that was shot right out the window. Once you go out hot, as far as I’m concerned, you’re committed. Just hold on and keep it going as long as possible. The first five laps felt fantastic, I’d put a lot of ground into Jenny, then, it was like someone attached a piano to the back of my bike. MMmmm not so good. Not good at all. Shortly after this, I started hemorrhaging time. I was getting scared. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to hold on until the finish. With each lap, the gap was closing- she was gaining on me and I was losing ground on her. It came down to the wire at the finish and I was able to eek out a win by the skin of my teeth. The evening session was almost the complete opposite of the morning’s ride, which is frustrating to say the least. It wasn’t pretty but it was certainly a hard fought battle.

Photo: Pat Benson
Our final event was the 500 (kilo for the men and tandems). The event is only two laps so it’s sort of an odd, in between distance. It’s long enough to suck but not long enough to get into any rhythm. The best portion of the race was the first 10 meters. After that it was sort of, meh- not terrible but not the time I was hoping for. Jenny-who specializes in the event- won. A silver in the 500 and gold in the pursuit is a pretty good way to finish the season.

Now, we have a bit of time off before the ParaPan American Games in Guadalajara, MEX November 12-21. It’s time to enjoy the California sun!

Pursuit Podium
Photo: Rob Evans

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