Monday, July 23, 2007

pows and wows! - the american velodrome challenge

When I signed up for this big event at the track, I didn't quite realize what I was getting myself into. I knew the Olympian, Jennie Reed, would be there, and I knew that it would be filled with a bunch of really awesome local women like Shelley Olds and Mary Maroon-- but I wasn't aware until a couple of days before when I looked at the registration list that all these other world and national class women would be there like Becky Quinn, Anna Lang, and Carrie Higgins! Whoa! This made me a little nervous, but when you know you are going to get your ass whooped, there really isn't much to lose. I was just excited that I was going to get a front row view of the racing!

The track looked awesome- it felt like the big leagues for sure! A ton of people were there. I even had some of my own fans- Angela, Doug, Lily, Patrick, Alex, Myra, Reese, and Mike! But I was a jerk and didn't talk to them much cause I was a bit nervous. Sorry guys! But thanks for coming! Anyway, here is the race report-

Friday Night

My first race was the Keirin- this is the one where you go behind a motorbike and it gets faster and faster til it pulls off. I was pretty nervous for this cause I watched some pretty freaky clips on You Tube. But, I figured I would just try the race (minus the head-butting trick...) cause that is the only way you learn. I rode very conservatively on this. I just stayed in the 6th position the entire race and didn't try jockeying for position. For sure the last thing you want to do is do something stupid to a world class athlete! I was just happy to be in the race and get an up close view of what was going on in front of me. After the motorbike pulled off, the pace increased. A gap formed between the 4th person and the 5th person. I came around the woman in front of me in the last turn, so I guess I got 5th in my heat, but that didn't really matter cause only top 3 went on to finals. I'd definitely like to try this race again in a different environment. I know I could have went faster and just need to feel more comfortable in that atmosphere. But, I really liked this race. It is cool cause the motorbike does all the work for you getting up to speed, so you don't really have to accelerate at all. Then you just go bitchin' fast to the finish line. I am excited to try it again.

Here is a cool picture of my heat on the motorbike. (I am in the back)

Here is my heat just after the motorbike pulled off.

I think this is coming into the final sprint. As you see, I let a gap open, but I closed it on the straight away to get 5th.

Points Race. This was a really big field. It was a 24 lap points race, sprints every 6. I knew I'd get dropped, so it was really just a question of when. The race was fast. After that first sprint, it got faster. At one point I was all alone, then I bridged up to someone. It took me awhile to bridge up, and then I hung on her wheel for a lap, but I knew I couldn't pull. I was getting light headed, tunnel vision, and a bit nauseas, so I was hoping I could just sit-in a bit longer. The person whose wheel I was on said I needed to pull more and hold a better line. I felt really bad that I was doing so poorly. I had never been so tired before and was disappointed that my bike handling went to pot. The person I was riding with told me next time I should be more communicative that I can't pull, so I can sit in on her while she is pace lining with someone else. I was really happy that she gave me this advice, because I don't really know much about protocol. This points race was definitely the low of the weekend. I was feeling pretty bad about this race. I wasn't quite sure it was appropriate for me to be racing with such high caliber women given my fitness and experience. But I figured the next day was just the sprints, and I could play the miss 'n out and scratch race by ear.

Here is me very tired, but not feeling as bad as in the photo below.

Here is me, honestly thinking I am going to puke.

Friday, post race

Angela and Doug let me stay with them in San Jose that night. Angela was really great-- giving me lots of encouragement. She fed me an awesome dinner, took me out for breakfast in the morning, and packed me a great lunch/dinner and snacks! Thank you so much for all your support-- it really meat so much to me!


I got back to the track in the morning, still a bit rattled from the points race. I just wanted to do okay for my 200TT. I was hoping to break 14, cause I almost did last time. But I totally flopped and was a half second worse, at 14.5. I was pretty disappointed with this... However, doing better wouldn't have mattered for placing in the tournament.

Match Sprints.
#1 Jennie Reed def. Beth Newell.
Well, my first match sprint was against none other than Jennie Reed! At a time like this, there is no point in being nervous cause you know your going to get your ass WHOOPED. So, I was just really excited that I could tell all my friends and family that I match sprinted an Olympian! I told her it was my second time doing match sprints--she laughed at me. I also got my picture with her and a picture of our quads. I need to get my film developed though... so this will come later. Anyway, I knew if she jumped first, I'd never be able to get close to her wheel. So I figured I'd jump, then she'd probably draft me for awhile, then come around me at the end. That is pretty much what happened, and she was easy on me and only beat me by a half a wheel. Not cause I was that fast, but cause she was saving herself for later. Glen told me I held a very smooth, steady line out of the turn to the finish when Jennie was coming around me. I was happy I held a good line, cause I was a bit nervous because of the previous night. Anyway, it was a bunch of fun to sprint an Olympian!

Here is me with a gap on Jennie Reed after my jump. It wouldn't last, obviously!

Here is me and Jennie Reed sprinting for the finish line. Don't be fooled by how close it is. She could beat me with only one leg!

#2 Becky Quinn def Courtney Gertler, Beth Newell, and Alicia Arnold. This was the next match sprint- we were racing to be placed in the final (top 4). We did a 4-up-- that was a lot of us. I rode pretty dumb. I stayed back, cause I figured I'd just hop on whoever jumped. Becky Quinn jumped out of turn 2--I followed her, but left a little gap between our wheels. Courtney was next to me, and I let her slide in. This was really dumb. Anyway, I was in a crappy position and came in 3rd. I knew I wouldn't win this, but I was hoping I'd ride a little smarter.

#3 Beth Newell def Alicia Arnold and Courtney Gertler. This was a 3-up for 5th, 6th, and 7th. I pulled the top card, so I started up high. I decided I'd hang back and I watched Alicia keep Courtney at the wall. This was working great for me, cause I was hiding in the back. At turn 1, I used the banking to accelerate down and made a big gap and held it for the win. So, I got 5th in the sprint...although only 7 people entered. Anyway, I was happy that I rode this sprint well.

Miss 'n Out. There were about 15 or so people in this race. I didn't want to get boxed in, so I stayed out-- working really hard on the long line around the curve. Each lap I was in last place and would sprint the home stretch to not get eliminated. I guess that means I was playing "the devil", so they say. Every time I came around I was expecting my number (#47) to get called -- but somehow I kept nabbing off people who were stuck low. This was an awesome strategy, but very, very tiring cause you had to sprint a bunch and then go the long way around the banking with no draft. Eventually my luck ran out-- but I still managed to get 8th place. I was really, really happy with this, considering how many awesome women were in this race!

After this miss 'n out, Mary showed Alicia and I an awesome place for burritos. Usually a burrito before a race is not a good idea, but I was hot and starving and ate it anyway. I actually only ate half, saving some for later. Eating different kinds of foods before doing sports never affects me, so I didn't notice it at all -- except 15 minutes before the scratch race I really needed to shit-- but no time. (I know, too much information!)

Warming up for the scratch race was really awesome. Mary kept bumping my elbows and trying to knock me. I was pretty pumped cause I felt pretty steady despite her jabs. Then she taught me madison throws a little. This was pretty hard, but really fun to get flung forward. Mary is a lot stronger than me, so she'd really whip me up track. When I'd do it to her, she'd go like 2 feet forward. I'm a weakling. She told me if I gained 15 pounds, she'd lose 20 so we can be Madison partners. The flinging is pretty fun, but the race is pretty chaotic and I definitely need to learn to handle my bike much better before trying something like that! But, regardless, this was another cool thing to learn and practice this weekend!

15 lap scratch race. Despite my bowel issue, I was ready for this race. I lined up on the wall behind Jennie Reed. As I was adjusted my pedal position, my wheel bumped hers. She didn't mind at all, but I still said: "SO SORRY! That wheel costs more than my bike!" She was totally nice and just laughed and said, "No way, do you see this tire." I just laughed awkwardly cause I don't know jack shit about tires... I digress. The race started. I again wondered how long I could hang. I hung in the back for awhile. Then there was a break, and cause I was in the back I missed it. Me and a woman from Team Oakland worked together for the next couple of laps chasing. I never thought we'd catch the group- but we did and I was really pumped. Then about half a lap after we caught up, there was another attack. I missed, but there was only about 1.5 laps left. I just worked as hard as I could to the finish. I felt okay about this race. I was happy that I successfully caught back on the main pack, although I got dropped right after we caught up. But I had never bridged up before like that, so that was a great experience. I was also happy because me and the woman were working well together I think. I was very happy that I did that properly after me doing so poorly in this regard on Friday night's points race.
Here is me at a random point this weekend.

Here is me at another random point this weekend.

Anyway, this is a really long post-- but it was a really cool weekend!! So many people were really, really nice. Thanks Mary for showing me the ropes this weekend. Thanks Joe for making sure I cool down after every race and giving me pointers after every race. Thanks Glen (i know you love my blog...sorry this post isn't so quirky) for fixing my handlebars with such care and giving me so many pointers and help. Thanks also to all the organizers and officials-- it was a real honor to have been able to participate in this event as a new track racer. I learned a ton and hopefully will put it to good use in the future!


twinkiepatissier said...

i am speechless... 大胆だよなぁ、超凄過ぎ!

so proud of you!!

by the way, it's quads monday. measurement, please.

X Bunny said...

it was a lot of fun to watch you in that miss 'n out!!

Anonymous said...

I am so proud of you Beth! Being able to show up at a high caliber race and hanging in at that level was very impressive. Good job and it looks like you have a lot of experience on your belt now. I am going to get my butt kicked once I get to race with you - gah!

I remembered, on the Friday points race - I saw you bridge up to a group and pulling the two other racers. Those two other racers were in no contention to win at that point. The group broke up into three. Olds was driving a fast pace for those points and was over half a lap away.

Great report, too by the way!

Thanks for the flowers (it's still beautiful) and I wish I remembered to pack you lunch the next day. :-(

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

track racing is fun!!!

Gilby said...

That is really cool! It's sounds like you held your own really well for someone who is still pretty new to it all. AND you got to sprint against Jennie Reed! Great job!

I felt the same way last year when I went to nats, and it'll be more of the same this weekend at the FSA Grand Prix. Just a tiny bit in over my head, but what's there to lose, right?

karla said...

nice job! way to hang in there and have fun with it too. You're rockin!

Juicey said...

Thank you Beth for the comment. In my first year track racing I got to go to a bunch of big track races like the AVC and it made a world of difference in how I trained. Keep up the hard work and good luck the rest of the season!


Grey said...

excellent work. i'm stoked the weekend was a positive learning experience for you.

considering just how deep the water is into which you dove, you came up swimming a beautiful backstroke, whistling show tunes.

so good!

glennzgarage said...

Dang these blogs and any new scribblins! NP about anything I can do to help.

Many won't join the fray 'cuz of worries about getting beat, or being good enough. Glad to see that's not you! Keep it up!

Beth said...

Right on, Glen.

Yep, pride is one thing I don't have -- I love getting my ass whooped! :)

Marcela Rosolen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marcela Rosolen said...

Woooow... awesome blog I´ve just found!!
I am brazilian and I know Becky Quinn and Sarah Uhl. I met them here in Brazil and we became friends. I was a cyclist here too and I love the track.

I wish you luck at the track!!
Visit my blog if you like ... there isn´t much about cycling there, but you can find many interesting things.