Monday, April 6, 2009

Back to the Track

On Saturday, Dino could tell that I was excited about the first track races of the year, Hellyer's 1st " Get Ready for Summer Series". I ran around triple-checking everything before we made the drive over to San Jose. I wanted to show off my cool new t-shirt that my friend Thomas designed. Unfortunately, we miscalculated the amount of time it would take to get there and get ready. I had about a half hour to get dressed and warmed up before the first C's race. Of course, the ticket machine was malfunctioning, and a huge line of cars waited at the entrance. I grabbed my backpack and ran to the bathroom to change into my skin suit, then jumped on my bike as soon as I could. Luckily, Dino took care of setting up and registering while I did my abbreviated warm-up.

He pinned on the number and I was ready for my first keirin. I had trouble keeping up with the moto and got gapped by two guys in front. As it turned out, I had on my warm-up gear!!! After Dino switched it, I got second in the second heat of the keirin, which qualified me for the final. The keirin is a freakin' drag race. I think it's my new favorite. It was a tough way to start the day, however. I was the only woman in the final heat, and got last place. Dang.

As we rolled up to the rail for the scratch race, I thought "Geesh, this is a big field." It was a bit windy as we rolled out and I sat mid-pack. Then the swerving started. Nobody was stringing it out and people were way too frisky. A rider swerved randomly in front of me, which made me swerve. I felt like apologizing profusely to everyone behind me. My instinct yelled "Get out of this mess! Hold your line everyone!" I scooted up track into the wind and grabbed DBC's John Licatesi who had won the Keirin. Phew! Much Better!

Then about five laps in, I heard and felt the sickening sensation of a big pile-up behind me. Six riders went down, including a Michelle, who was just happy to be riding after breaking her back in a crit a while back. I was immediately concerned about her. My concern was misplaced, as she was mostly okay. Everyone got up with minor injuries except for Joe Fineman, a Hellyer institution. The paramedics took him away with a serious neck injury and no feeling in his arms or legs. He's now in intensive care after surgery to remove a disk that was placing pressure on his spinal cord. I've been thinking about him everyday and wish him a speedy recovery.

Scratch Continued
I don't know how you feel after a crash, but my nerves were fried and my enthusiasm dimmed. Getting right back on the horse is all you can do. They gave us about nine more laps after the track cleared.I vowed to attack hard if the same sketchy, silliness continued. Some of the guys had the same idea and they flew off the start. I ended up 4th.

When I was riding around the warm-up ring, John Cheetham reminded my about not getting caught in the sprinter's lane for this one. So, what did I do? Move right into that spot, where I promptly got pulled on the first lap. Doh!!! I haven't done too many Miss'n'Outs in my short track career and it's been at least a year since the last one. File this one away and move on.

I feel most comfortable after racing points on Tuesdays with Larry last summer, even as math-challenged as I am. I pulled off some great efforts got 3rd in our remaining tiny field of C's riders.

  • This really was "getting ready for summer" for us. The logistics weren't quite dialed in. I was happy to do my first Keirin and be held on the track for the first time (thanks to uber-holder Andreas Vogel for excellent holding with added coaching).
  • I have strong legs this year and feel like I can get my track upgrade. Part of me wanted to race the B's after the crash, but I want to get points and the elusive "W". I got 6th overall in the omnium, but know that I could have gotten better without blowing it in the Miss'n'Out. I missed the podium by one spot.
  • Even though the crash was terrible, I still feel that track racing is no more dangerous than any other type of bike racing. It was a fairly rare thing.
  • I still get a major kick out of the track. It's a fertile growing environment physically, mentally and socially. Also, Facebook has been a great way to network, keep in touch with old friends and meet new ones in the cycling community.I can't wait to get back!
  • After six races my legs feel pretty beat up!