I’ve already missed one day of blogging — we spend the day mostly doing setup and watching Andy ride his first race, a kilo. However, there was one very major event — Jen bought herself a new Pinarello track bike !!!! It is this super, duper very petite bike that she’s been in search of for quite some time. Figures she had to come all the way to England to find her perfect bike!!! It is outfitted with a Campy Record bottom bracket and Chris moved over the other parts (saddle, pedal, handlebars) from her “old, stinky” Dolan. She is justifiably on cloud nine.
As for the track stuff, I got on and rode the rollers for a little less than an hour. I’m certainly getting better with those things. It is a very good thing I learned how to use them a few weeks ago since it is the only warm-up option on the infield. EVERYONE is riding rollers of some flavor. They come in all colors, all widths and some have a parabolic design. The infield is in constant motion — but going nowhere. Bike wheels are going around and around, many miles being ridden yet everyone is totally stationary. It is a rather bizarre situation. There is an energy in the air that is very contagious. It is hard to be on the infield and not get caught up in it. Clearly, I will need to stay away from the track when I’m not doing an effort (warm-up or race) to avoid getting fatigued. Jen came home yesterday and said that even though she didn’t, she was tired and sore — from hanging around the track and riding her new bike (just on rollers and on the “basketball court”).
On the morning of my pursuit race the only other person in the house racing was Andy. Andy took a look at the schedule and guessing how long events would take suggested we plan to head over around noon. Well, at about 11:30am he saw (from the Twitter feed) that things were going much faster than expected and we had to high tail it over to the velodrome. We scrambled and made our way to the center and the infield. I tried to ‘sign-in’ on my way to our area but was told that the start list had already been delivered! YIKES! They took pity on me and had a runner go add me to the start list. Thank you, Sign-in volunteers! Then I made a mad dash to our bikes, got my gear out of Pat’s bike box (our over-night storage), and headed off to get changed. When I got back, Andy pinned my number on and I quickly set up for a 30 minute warm-up. I could feel the adrenaline already starting to pump through my system. I was amp-ed up! Chris helped me calm down, take deep breaths and settle into my warm-up. I rode along on the rollers and the rhythm of the pedaling immediately brought me back down to ‘normal’. I was only 20 minutes into my warm-up when it was almost my time to race. I got off the rollers and made final preparations. Got my ‘skunk’ helmet on (named for its coloring) and my gloves on, grabbed a last sip of water and a Shot Block and made my way to the bike check-in area across the infield. I would start on the home stretch of the track. First though, an official put my bike in a jig to make sure it met specs, weighed it and then sent me off. I went right from there to the track and Chris took my bike to the starting machine. Left pedal positioned at 10 o’clock. I got on, took a very deep breath and told the official I was ready. He held up what looked like a big red ping-pong paddle to indicate my readiness. The next thing I knew, the timer, set to 11 seconds beeped once and started to count down. When it got to 5, there were 5 more beeps that allowed me to get synchronized for the final start beep (which sounds slightly different). I shifted my weight back on ‘1’ beep and forward again anticipating the start beep. I was slightly ahead of the release and had to do a double-clutch on the start. But, once I was off, I took off like a bat out of hell. I was still super pumped up from having to rush over, rush my warm-up and rush to the start. That urgency stayed with me and I stayed out of the saddle for 3/4 of a lap, normally it is more like 1/3 to 1/2 of a lap. But, I got up to speed and I hit our ‘scheduled’ time with a 25.9s first lap (our target was 26s). I kept pushing the pace and was way ahead of schedule on the next lap with a 18.5s. Our plan was for 20s laps. My third lap was a bit better at 19.5s. About this time though, the gal I was racing against came into view. I was about to catch her. That’s both good and bad. Good that I was that much faster than her, bad because now i had to expend lots of energy to get around her. It took me the better part of a lap to accomplish that and I had to go up track (which means I rode more than 2000m!) and I had to stay high until I got around her completely. The other, less obvious, problem was that it took me out of my rhythm. I paid dearly for my fast start and having to pass. Towards the end of the race my laps crept up to high 20s and even a couple of 21s laps. In the end, I finished with a time of 2:49 and change which ended up being good enough for 4th place and a shot at the finals.
After the race, I went back to the house, used the pump-u-up legs and took an hour long nap. Our finals were part of the evening session. We planned better, I arrived in plenty of time and had a solid warm-up. When it came time to race, I was more relaxed and dialed into our race plan. It was strangely familiar. A 26s first lap followed by 20s laps. Chris called my splits again and this time he added in two hand signals. A “safe’ sign with one arm if I was even or ahead and a upward gesture if I was behind. He would leave it up to me whether or not I changed my pace based on either sign. I got a better start, but was still slightly ahead of the release. I powered up to speed within the first half-lap and came across in a 25.9s for my first lap, identical to my first race. This time, however, I intentionally stayed at that level of effort. Apparently my competitor rode like she had been shot out by a canon. She was ahead of me and by the second or third lap was up by as much as a couple of seconds! I saw Chris’ hand sign s and heard the splits. The splits were right where we wanted them. I picked up my pace a little, but I did not panic. This race, I had the presence to look up at the big board as I came down the back stretch. I saw that I had a ‘2’ with my name but I couldn’t really tell how far behind I was. Each lap Chris kept giving me the upward gesture and I kept up my effort and in the second half of the race started to add a little more ‘umph’ on each lap. I was now convinced that I would not blow up and that I could actually push a little harder. With a couple of splits, maybe even a couple of laps to go, I caught up with Merial and actually pulled a bit ahead of her. Chris told me to ‘go git ‘er’ and that’s what I did. In the end I crossed the finish line first. What a great feeling that was!