Sunday, July 25, 2010

Friday Night Track racing at Hellyer: July 23, 2010

Friday night racing was a blast! A good crowd to heckle and cheer seems to add a few watts to the legs and a higher level of competition added with some out of town racers makes for faster racing too. Then the pits between races are fun too with great camaraderie that pretty much always transcends whatever goes on during the races.

20 lap scratch: It quickly became obvious that the four visitors up from the ADT track were working well as a team chasing stuff down, blocking and generally setting the race up for a sprint finish. I BLEW IT with two to go when the bottom of the track seemed open, I was the first guy coming through and then backed off when it seemed like the two riders up track were coming down into my line. What I should have done was blasted through. Even if they did come down, I could have easily dropped down to the blue line of the apron and let the officials sort it out. What I did do cost me the pole for the final lap (which would have been SWEET) and also screwed up quite a few riders behind me on my wheel. OK. Hopefully next time I'm in that position I'll remember to be in more aggressive and less cautious. ESPECIALLY with only two laps to go.

5x5 points (25 laps): I wasn't able to get up into the sprints one and two so decided my only way to have some fun was going to come if I tried to stay near the front for a sprint and then counterattack. At best I was going to stay away and score and at worst I would be putting a double hurt on the sprinters. After the third sprint I snuck up under the track and when all the spent sprinters were uptrack I attacked and quickly got a good sized lead. I held it until the next sprint to take a solo win for the points. I stayed off the front for another lap hoping the pack would stall again after that sprint but that was obviously not happening as things were stretched out and broken behind. Instead of killing myself I backed off and tried to recover a little since I didn't want to get dropped when I got caught. I rolled in on the back of the pack on the final sprint. So it wasn't exactly a suicide flyer and notching 5 points solos off the front was fun but I'd trade if for having been able to factor into three of the sprints and scoring a little higher...

Miss-n-out: Wow this is my worst event! I was the first one eliminated when I simply had no where to go. The 23 mph neutral lap with no racing laps before the first sprint kind of got the best of my slow-to-start mentality as well.

So, despite the miserable win-n-out and the mental fart on the scratch race, it was a great time. Now if only I hadn't ridden to a 55 mile team ride and notched up 100 miles in 17 hour period I'd probably feel a little more perky today... But it's all worth it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tuesday night Racing: Hellyer July 20, 2010

Lighter than usual traffic (more like, less heavy than usual...) got me to the track with time for a solid warmup this week which I kind of felt like I needed to get the old body going. Combined B and C fields tonight and that's where I ended up.

25 lap scratch race: My only motivation for the scratch race was to try and keep it fast. That doesn't seem fair to the C racers but crashing sucks and slow races induce that sort of behavior so fast it was. There was a cookie prime which I screwed the knobs up to eleven to win (haha, how stupid is that?). That combined with doing most of the work to keep things rolling made me tired for the sprint. I missed the move but almost stole second on the line but third was my satisfaction.

5x8 (40 lap) points race: Not much to say here, no one wanted to help with the pace. Everytime someone pulled off the front and went uptrack, two or three people would stay on their wheel and go up and the pace would slow down again. It got pretty dang annoying to tell the truth. But it was good inspiration to lead out my own sprints and fight anyone off who tried to come around. I don't know what the points totals were but I got the W.

So the third and the W also gave me a win for the omnium! Kris says I shouldn't poopoo my own results and Steve Jones assured me the race counts for upgrade points but it doesn't feel like a valid win when I know how hard and fast some of the B races were earlier this year. But good results are often the result of who bothers to show up and race as much as they are luck and -dare i say it?- getting faster smarter and better at the racing in general...

So Friday night is on the agenda! That will be a good reality check. And fun too!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Power Within

On my way to work this morning, I stopped at the grocery store for a few things (my fellow cyclists who cram lunch rides in during the week will understand that you absolutely must have a working stick of deodorant stashed away at work). Typical to an early-ish Sunday morning there was only one checkout stand open and I queued up like a good little boy. An old man's turn came up and the check out lady looked at his "Veteran" hat and asked him, "Army? Marines? Navy?"

The old man replied "Navy." This touched off a conversation about his time in Korea back when that was a pretty crappy place to be which related to the check out lady since her son is a Marine who was stationed in Korea before being sent to Iraq. After a brief and guilty moment of thinking, "Alright, let's go." I realized that I would just have to suck up my impatience and let this one ride. It was important to both the Veteran and the checkout lady to have, what appeared to be, a somewhat mundane conversation about how cold Korea is in the Winter and how hot it is in the Summer.

Meanwhile the lady directly behind me started fidgeting and even emitted an ,"Oh come on." The checkout lady did her best to end things and get back to business as she noticed the line grow and people bouncing in their places. When I came up I had one of those rare moments where I suck up my shyness and just say what I'm thinking. I told her I thought it was cool she took the time to recognize a veteran and give him the time. As she handed me my receipt she said, "Thanks for the compliment, you made my day."

Wow. Really? So she makes the old man's day by opening her mouth and recognizing him and I make her day by opening my mouth and recognizing her small act. Then she kind of makes my day by recognizing my recognizing her recognizing the old veteran. Crazy.

So we all have this amazing power within us to just add a little positivity to the World. This isn't a new concept to me but lately I've been feeling a little pessimistic about our culture and the lost art of politeness and common courtesy. As a person who has had to fight very hard with myself to not be angry and judgemental and has to constantly struggle to not be grumpy and spread my negativity, I get the rare perspective of seeing both sides of the coin. I certainly don't understand why there is such an inclination to be an SOB staining things around me a passive aggressive vibe when the obvious benefits (both to myself but certainly to those within a "pay it forward" relation to me) are right in my face. So odd.

That's it. Nothing Earth shattering. Just the simple message to be nice and spread it around. You don't have to go handing out flowers and hugging strangers but maybe ease off the gas and let that other guy go ahead of you in traffic or hold the door for someone or just go out of your comfort zone and talk to stranger. And to everyone who took the time to drop a "Happy Birthday" on me this week, thank you thank you thank you for taking that time and making my day.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

SLLOOOWWW warmup = odd(+) results... Hellyer Wednesday Night Racing, July 14, 2010

Picture outright stolen from the great Steve Woo, track official, promoter, racer, photographer and blogger and all around nice guy extraordinaire.

Well, back to back track nights are always good for a little pain and suffering all in the name of tryin' to get faster and score a nut here and there. In general I felt better during the day so wasn't too worried that tonight would be a repeat of the dead legs from Tuesday night. Format was four races, Scratch, Tempo, Win-n-out and Points. Like tuesday, there weren't large fields but these are USAC races so they divided by actual categories, and all the 4/5's were together. Which made me feel kind of bad for the cat 5's...

15 lap scratch race: I purposefully left a small gear (well, a 48x15 is small for me...) thinking I should just spin my ass off tonight. BOOM the race went off super fast and I thought, "Oh shit, not again." With 6 to go I couldn't close a gap and went off the back. I stayed on the lead lap but was very unhappy.

14 lap tempo: I geared back up to the usual 48x14 for the tempo and BOOM! The damn thing went off too fast for me again. I went off the back even quicker and did get lapped right at the end. I exited the track very pissed off and discouraged wondering where the hell my legs had gone. Wasn't I winning this shit just a week ago???

8 laps to win and out each lap after: Still stinging and pissed off I attacked in turn one after the neutral lap too catcalls and boos from my dear fellow brethren racers (hehehehe). Four laps down and I was maintaining almost a half lap flyer when the pack finally decided I'd had enough and reeled me in with two to go. RATS! I felt better about at least being an instigator and as I took cooldown circles in the warmup circle I realized I suddenly could barely breath. After a two minute search into the depths of my bike bag I finally found my inhaler and took two puffs. I wouldn't say it was instant relief but the burning subsided by the time the last race went.

36 lap points race, (6x6): The start was weird on this one as there was NO WARMUP AND PRIMES ON THE FIRST TWO LAPS (WTF^2). This threw several people for a loop and the first three laps were chaotic with people all over the track in ones and twos. Somehow, however, it all came together about three laps in. When the first sprint came, I found myself in a good spot and rolled easy across the line for 3rd place points. The rest of the race I found it easy to snag points on almost every sprint and even won one of them in there. As a result I was 2nd for the race after sucking all night long!

And even weirder is that 2nd in the points race was good enough for a 5th place in the omnium. I didn't expect that. I guess the lesson in there is... I dunno. Don't give up? Praise abuterol? Take what you can get? Play to your strengths (points racing has definitely become my favorite track racing and the longer the race, the better). I dunno but add one point for upgrading!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hardware: Hellyer Tuesday Night Racing, July 13, 2010

With all the "Somedays your the hammer, somedays your the nail." Tour De France talk I hesitate to use that suddenly overused expression but dayum if I wadn't feeling like a number 16 galvinized gettin' laid into by some waffled 32 ounce true tempered carpentry hardware tonight at the track. Wow, that sentence must be as hard to read as it was to try and write (note I said "try to write").

I was on the fence about whether to do the A race or B race and decided that given my past weekend I would be better off in the B's. What about the weekend you ask? Well Sunday morning I had to move my new washing machine into the laundry room which happens to be up in the attic. I couldn't ring up any help so I lugged that fucker up the stairs all by myself and - as you'd expect from a man of my declining years, messed up my back. No biggie, just a real solid tweak to remind me of my growing-by-the-day inability to get away with shit like that.

So what did I follow that up with? Oh, how about 4'000 feet of climbing over 50+ miles? Oh and did I mention that I didn't get out on the road until 1:30 in the afternoon and it was HOT as Hades in August. Okay it wasn't that hot but I was measuring over 100 degrees on the Garmin.

So flash forward to tonight's warmup and my realization that my weekend kicked me squarely en las nargas and I haven't really recovered. So B race was a good decision only WAIT! Wait for it... Attention: There will be no B race tonight due to low turnout in the C race. So B's can go up or down, choose. After someone had already flattered the hell out of me coming up out of nowhere to tell me they noticed my win last week, I just couldn't go sandbag the C race.

The rest is a hazy blur of pain, humiliation, speed and misery. I went off the back once in the Scratch race and lost count of how many laps down I was in the 60 lap points race. The only thing I can feel good about (other than at least sticking my neck out with the A race) is that I stuck out the points race and was one of the last six people still on the track at the end!

So ouch! But not too demoralizing. I might go back out again tomorrow night but given the low hours of sleep I'm gonna tab up tonight I dunno.

If you're reading this and you aren't me, thank you. Really, thank you.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tuesday Night Racing: Hellyer July 6, 2010

Steve Jones stepped up and is promoting a short series of Tuesday night races to fill the gap between Larry's early and late season Tues. night races. The format is similar with a concentration on longer races but only two events per night (yay!). So we had a 25 lap scratch race and a 40 lap points race.

25 lap scratch...
I decided I wanted to race this tonight instead of using it as a high intensity warmup. Start position was good right at the front. I took a hard one lap pull right off the bat trying to get things heated up and it kind of worked as we had a good pace. I think there were was a flyer that got pulled back pretty quickly. With 15 to go I went off the front with one other guy. I though it was a suicide move and we weren't working too well together at first. After about four laps I finally convinced my breakaway partner to take full lap pulls and that worked much better. The pack never got organized and we stayed away. We got caught by two guys with two laps to go but they must have burned themselves up bridging since they were nowhere in the sprint. I led out from turn two at about 85% gas and then notched it up to full blast with about 150 meters to go and held off (barely) second place for the win! Wow! Even a three legged pig gets a little somethin' somethin' now and then.

Points 8x5 (40 laps):
A good stretch and -thankfully- the legs were up for more racing. I was feeling the earlier long break and sprint but was able to consistently snag points and even won one sprint which was good enough for fourth place.

That gave me 6 omnium points total and the guy who was second in the scratch race also came in second in the points race also giving him 6 points. But tie breaker goes to me (I think?) since I had the better placing between us. W00t squared! So I have a valid omnium win to claim upgrade points since there were 13 competitors.

So it's only a weeknight race but it counts!