how can i possibly sum up my weekend at alpenrose?
MY CROTCH HURTS!
(for those of you who have ridden there, you know what i mean. for those of you who haven't, i have a hard time explaining. not really a rubbing/saddle sore pain-- but more of a pressure pain.)
the proman ladies asked me to be a guest rider for them over the weekend. it was a real big honor and i was pretty excited to feel all official in a real team kit. i was also really excited to see what it was like to ride with teammates, and was hoping to be helpful in the races... actually, i was a bit confused of how i could actually be helpful to shelley olds, considering i can't even suck her wheel for half a lap... but the whole idea of having her as teammate for a couple of races was kinda reminiscent of my favorite cheap trick song: "i want you to want me."
i went up to portland a couple of days early to hang out with my adorable nieces and to get field for the track, as i heard it was kind of funky.
wednesday afternoon i went to the track. alpenrose is open all the time, so you can hop on it whenever. except that can be a bit eerie by yourself. the track is scary to look at when you are all alone. i had a minor heart palpitation. then i got on and rolled around on the pole for five minutes. then i got some guts and went to the stayers line for 5 minutes. no problem. then i started the "ribbon drill"-- where you sweep up and down the whole bank on the track in a zig-zag. well, on the second swoop up i was suddenly sliding down. my rear wheel must have given out. got scraped up. ripped my new proman shorts. and shredded my bar tape. i guess i was under the minimum speed. i later got reprimanded from all the masters guys: "why on earth did you do the ribbon drill! you don't do that on this track!"
anyway, the point it is freaked me out. i had a minor breakdown and freak out session. i allotted myself five minutes for this. then i got back on and rode around the pole lane for awhile longer. some other women showed up about fifteen minutes later and i pace lined with them for a bit. luckily i was wearing sunglasses so they couldn't see my bloodshot eyes. i rolled around some more and i couldn't make it higher than the stayers line, though. i was planning on doing a bunch of fast efforts to get used to the track, but i just couldn't get above 60-70 percent. i stood up once for a second and my bike started making all sorts of noises i had never heard before, so i sat right back down. finally, i left. i think i spent about an hour out there.
i was pretty upset at that point. crashing by yourself on the track cannot bode well for a weekend full of mass start races. especially a field full of some of the best riders in the country. i was really freaked about crashing everyone out and losing control.
matt martinez met me the next morning at 9 at the track. he was really kind and offered to help me out and get used to it. he made me feel better and told me a bunch of stories of other people falling their first time on the track because of the minimum speed. we spent the next three hours there- first getting comfortable riding at different parts of the track. then practicing being at speed sprinting around the corner. working on the 200m line. and then some standing starts. it was so helpful and i felt a lot better on the track. i was pretty pooped after it. ideally, wouldn't want such a hard workout the day before three days of racing, but it was really necessary so i could get a feel for things and gain back an ounce of confidence.
friday i just had the 500m. my warm-up for this was okay, but not great. i had a hard time getting my jumps in. the track was really busy, and anytime i'd get up on the rail and out of turn three, where i was going to start my jump, it was crazy below me, and i got nervous about maneuvering through it all. i got a couple in, but never at a good effort, as i was really nervous passing people in the turns, as i was uncertain about how things handled on the track. people said not to compare times for the TTs, as the track was weird. had a 41.6, which i really wasn't happy with, but other people seemed to think that was okay. the TT starts out of turn 2. i wasn't comfortable staying standed through the turn, as they were so sharp, so i sat down. i probably should have tried to stay up longer to get more on my gear, or stood up again out of the turn in the straight away... but i didn't know until i watched other people who went after me. i was happy that i kept it in control in the turn...and never swung up really high or anything.
that day i also found out there were so many women registered, they were separating the 1/2 women from the 3s for the mass start events (scratch, miss n out, points). the sprints & keirin would all be together. so that meant i wouldn't be racing with shelley and kelly. i was a bit bummed, just cause i was excited to see what team stuff was like. but i was also a bit relieved, as i was so anxious about riding on the track already, and things would be a bit more maneuverable and manageable with smaller field sizes.
200m TT was first. it was cold. really really cold. it took awhile to warm-up. i was pleasantly surprised that i felt more comfortable riding on the track than i did the day before. and i got some good jumps in, and was less tentative and chicken-shit in my warmup efforts. this seemed to make a big difference in my effort. i had a good windup and rode my 200 line well. time was super slow, 14.2 again, people seemed to think this was good...but shit, it was more than a second slower than my last 200. i guess everyone's times were slow. there were 26 people in the tournament. i was nervous i wasn't going to make it in the tournament, as only 12 were going in. but, i had the 8th fastest time! the thing is, 8 through 15 were only separated by .12 seconds....so i was really, really lucky!
round one of the sprints was a three up. i was seeded against monique sullivan, canadian national champ, who had a 12.9 200m. of course i knew i'd get smoked, which i did. but it was pretty cool. it is one thing to watch someone super fast and be amazed. it is a totally new level of appreciation, having someone super fast jump around me with absolutely no effort and instantaneously have a 15m gap, while i was going as fast as i could. as i said, a whole new appreciation that i could never have by just watching her.
next i had the round 1 rep round. it was a 4-up. i can't remember who all was in this heat other than kelly murdin. i ended up leading out the sprint. in the final straight away i was holding it off still! right at the line though, kelly murdin nipped me be a couple inches. i was a bit bummed, because it would have been cool to be in the top 6...but, i rode that race as hard as i could have and just got beat by a tiny bit. it felt pretty good knowing i was as close as i was to making it to round 2.
then we had a little break.
warmed up more to get ready for the afternoon session. this warmup, i felt even better and wasn't getting queezy riding at the rail, like i was the previous couple of times.
first race was the 7-10 final, 4-up. it was 5 lap race. this was by far my worst race of the day. for a couple laps i was riding on the stayers line and everyone else lined up the pole. the pace slowed down and i got nervous that my speed was going to be too slow. it is never good to be preoccupied thinking about minimum speed during a race, but that was it. i ended up leading out the sprint and not fast enough of a clip...and got passed by all in the end. i rode stupid and i knew it. anyway, i ended up 10th in the sprints.
next race was a 5 mile scratch race. it was a pretty fun race. i made a good attack at the beginning and got a big gap, got sucked back in. then, as i was recovering in the back, another attack went off with a group of three. a waited a bit to see if the pack was going to suck it back, but they were getting further away, so i attacked from the back and bridged up to the breakaway. the four of us worked pretty well together. we were shortly joined by a fifth, and we ended up lapping the field. so glad i bridged up! i wasn't in the best position with two to go, and had to move around a bunch, and with one to go was further back than i wanted, so i had to go real wide around turn 3/4, but the straight away is pretty long, so i was able to sprint up to second place. that was pretty sweet.
matt martinez found me a partner for the team sprint. a woman lynn with an awesome start. i think awesome was an understatement. unfortunately, i was not so awesome in my start. i don't know exactly what happened, but for some dumb reason i got out of my saddle at "3" instead of "2" and this threw my center of gravity way off...so when the "go" beep went, my weight was all in the wrong place, and i basically didn't move at all. and lynn just launched forwarded like a bullet. i really tried to catch back on, but after turn 2, she had about 20m on me (AMAZING I KNOW!) and i ended up doing 2 full laps solo. OUCHIE! but, i think even if i had the best start of my entire life, i would have been gapped by a ton...but maybe i would have at least been able to catch back on. really, really need to work on my start more.
wow. what a day. the host family we were staying with were awesome and had a huge potluck for us. it was so so nice. they had a bunch of their neighbors over, so i got to meet a bunch of people from beaverton and learn all about stuff in their community. it was really fun chatting with some of the neighbors.
damn. i can't believe it was another day. i was tired! warmed up okay and got ready for the keirin.
my first heat i got bumped out of second wheel cause i was a big sissy, so i moved into spot three. here, because the track is smaller, the moto pulls off before 2 to go. with the last lap of the moto, someone moved up next to spot two and moved the girl in front of me out. i got on the new girl's wheel, which was better because the other girl was fading. this is where i made my mistake, because with one to go i was sitting third wheel and new i needed to make my move, so i started to try and come around two people. but i should have been patient, because second wheel was going to move around, and i should have just followed her, so i didn't have to swing so wide. on the backstretch, the two girls were in front of my side by side and the one came down on the other pretty hard. i jerked right a bit, not knowing if there was going to be a crash in front of me and skipped my rear wheel mid-sprint. that never happened to before, so it through me a bit off, and that split second had me miss my jump to come around. i was right behind 1 & 2, but only 1 went on...so i knew i'd be repping anyway.
next was the miss 'n out. this race i get really anxious on. i think this was my best miss n out. for the first part i rode second wheel or so, and maneuvered in the middle of the pack. i was in danger one lap, and had to pop out the back and come around, which i did easily and then sat in the front and drilled it....riding on the red line and holding the pack high as i protected the pole lane. at one point i got a bit tired on the front, so moved to the middle for a few laps to recover. when i was in danger again, i popped around the back took a wide turn and then sprinted back to first wheel. the end of the race was a bit of disappointment for me... i was just stupid. i thought there were 3 of us and we were on our neutral lap. i knew better and should have looked over my shoulder. suddenly a few inches before the line i saw cece next to me and thought: "what? i thought there were three of us!" and then my name was called. oh well. won't make that mistake again! so i got 4th. but, i rode well up until being dumb.
the keirin rep round was my best race of the weekend hands down. i pulled position 6, and matt gave me an awesome push and i sprinted to get the moto. i wanted to start up front. the moto pulled off and i accelerated a tiny bit so no one came over. on the back stretch i was checking over my should and saw that heather vanvalkenburg was trying to jump over me. no one was on her wheel, though, so i figured i'd let her take the lead, so i could recover for a little bit and hopefully have a second jump- so long as i made sure i didn't get boxed in. on the front stretch i was still in the clear. around turn 1/2, i rode wide so the two women behind me had further to go. and in the back stretch, i made my move and put in a hard jump to come around her, which i did. i could have maybe passed a bit closer, but i was being cautious and sprinted as hard as i could around the turn and into the straight away. i didn't see anyone down the whole straight and just heard people yelling really loud and i went as fast as i could. as i passed the line, cristin walker was right next to me and i heard the announcer say it was too close and was a photo finish. i was wiped and i rolled around the warmup circle waiting for the judgment. only 1 person from the rep made it to the final of 7. i was really hoping to make it to the keirin final, but no dice. i lost by a centimeter. the man whose house we were staying with was an official and got me a copy of the official photo finish picture-- here it is. pretty cool!
i was a tiny, tiny bit disappointed i didn't make it to the finals-- cause that would have been fun. but i was really happy with my ride and don't think i would have done anything differently. i talked to some people for suggestions after the ride, and it was good to learn more about tactics, but ultimately i don't think i would have done it differently. some thought i shouldn't have given heather the lead with 1.5 to go. but i knew i was tired and if i had a draft for a tiny bit i could jump again; i knew two fast girls were behind me, and knew i couldn't lead them all out again, as i did in the 4-up the day before. (it was the same 4 of us in the sprint 7-10 race, as it was in this keirin rep). my razor was disastrous the day before because i don't think i had as much speed endurance as the other three, so when the opportunity presented itself so i could draft and then jump again, i thought that was good. heather wasn't pulling the pack with her, so i was safe in keeping second wheel. well, that was what was going through my mind in the race. however, it was good to hear a couple of people's different thoughts and i learned a lot through these conversations.
then we had our afternoon break.
i only had one race in the late afternoon session- point race. i was SO wiped at that point. my warmup, my legs felt like crap and i had nothing left. i tried to stay loose on the rollers, but i was not so optimistic. brian peterson adamentanly gave me a "go get 'em!" speech, so i had to listen because who doesn't want to be a fast and smart racer like brian peterson. our race was 30 laps with sprints every 5. the first sprint, rachel canning jumped and i tried to get on her, but legs just wouldn't move. i gapped big time, and nearly got 2nd in that first sprint, but got inched out for third. In the second sprint, rachel jumped again, and i rolled in right after her for 2nd. the third sprint was worth double, and i was a dumb-butt here in bad position and didn't even sprint. i just wasn't a dumb-butt, i was just wiped. i didn't have much left in me. but at this point i recalled brian peterson's pep talk, and decided i was going to own the next sprints on lap 10 and 5. i pretty much screwed myself over for first, but thought i could maybe second still. so on lap 12 i rode high as then pack was in the middle of the track. it was tiring staying at the rail and matching position. from the back of the pack at the rail i attacked out of turn two and got a huge gap and rode it out for two laps for 5 points then stayed away for two more laps. the pack caught me and i pulled up and was real tired, but was determined to get the win again for the next sprint, but i was going to be conservative and try to come around at the end. i rode some wheels and sprinted past rachel at the end of the straight away. at that point, i was pretty toast. i was counting my points and had 15, rachel was in the 20s. i needed to win the last sprint (and i might have had a chance to win, depending on rachel's scoring there), as it was worth double. i can't really remember much about the last two laps, but i didn't do what i needed to, and got trapped down low, so by the time i came out i didn't even score. i was kinda pissed i was stupid on both double point laps...but, i should have planned better... but, at least i had a good ten laps. i ended up with second in that race too.
all in all, a great weekend. i learned so so much through the racing and by chatting with people between racing. it was like a track racing crash course. it was cool that my mom was there and my nieces got to watch...who we super cute and kept saying: "shelley is super super super fast!!" it was awesome! i had a great time hanging out with kelly and shelley and all of the other hellyer folks who were down there! it was a real treat to be on their team for the weekend, and i really appreciated all of kelly and shelley's help and advice. also, major major major thanks to matt martinez who was my saving grace the whole weekend-- by getting me comfortable on the track and giving me advice and help before, during, and after every race. it really made me ride a lot better and helped a ton. i met a lot of really nice people and had such a fun time. i think it was a great learning experience, and even though i was still pretty nervous riding on the track at the end of the weekend, i think it did get better.
well, if you made it through, congratulations. this was pretty dry, i realize...but i had a lot wanted to process, so this was therapeutic for me, albeit not so entertaining.