Friday, July 17, 2009

Track Championships


The OBRA Track Championships happened last weekend, and I guess I'm just now recovered enough to write about the sole race I did last Friday. ;)

A warm sunny day saw a good number of trackies head out to the velodrome to participate in the first of three days of track events.  While Traci has been racing and training out their fairly frequently, I have yet to ride my track bike "in anger" this year.

We got to the track with plenty of time for a good warm up to chat with our friends who were also there.  I tried to pick the brain of a few of the more experienced riders on race strategy since I had never raced the event on slate for the evening.  The Kilo.. or sometimes known as the Kill-ometer from what I find out later.

Three and three quarters laps of pain from a dead stop.  Too long to rely on solely your anaerobic system and too short to get into a good aerobic grove.  There are a lot of theories on how to try and pace yourself but one piece of advice seems to be common.  Get up to speed as fast as you can.

I get some solid accelerations in and a number of laps at three quarter speed and a few laps at (hopefully) full speed.  Legs feel cruddy but I hope that its just pre-race nerves.

5:55 and racing is to start at 6.  The air temp drops by 5 degrees in a matter of minutes and the skies to the south look dark.  The first drops of rain hit my helmet as I'm on the front stretch and I see Luciano put the whistle to his mouth.  Two quick blasts and riders on track start making their way down to the apron.  Thirty seconds later a summer downpour hits the velodrome and racers and officials scurry under what little cover is available in the infield.  It rains off and on for the next 15 minutes, touching off discussions on rescheduling races.  My spirits, fairly low to start with, go in the toilet and I hope for a cancellation.

By 6:15 the rain has stopped and the sun comes back out.  The track is soaked but because of its concrete material it has retained a lot of heat and begins drying quickly.  Luciano breaks out a leaf blower and heads to turn 3 which is in the shade to dry out the sprinters lane.  Good news is that for the TT events, you only need the sprinters lane dry since everyone rides in it.  They expect the first riders to go off at 6:30.

Bob has graciously let me use his training track wheels to race on as they are far superior to the crap wheels on my crap bike.  He also has a 15t cog on his wheel which will put me in the proper ratio to race this event in.  As the women start their 500m TT event I get the wheels quickly swapped out and the chain at the right tension.  Pausing for a short while to watch Traci race.  She rides hard and strong and cuts a full 2 seconds off her PR.  She's happy with the results and barely misses 3rd place.

The men's Kilo starts with my division going first.  I'm slotted to roll out 6th and there are 13 people in my division.  I head to the warm up track to roll around a bit.  As the first rider finishes I head to the start area with the other riders.  The air is quiet and a bit humid after the rain.  Good conditions.  I hang my bike on the available stand and do a final bit of stretching.  Traci adjusts my insulin pump so its more secure and suddenly I'm on deck.  A final swig of water and a few deep breaths and its time to mount up.

Mike Murray has my bike set up while I get clipped in.  The rider ahead of me is churning away on his third lap.  I'll be rolling out in under 30 seconds.  I take deep breaths, trying to relax my body and not fight the holder behind me.  I vaguely hear Dean yelling "why are you riding those wheels!?"  I later find out he though I was Bob.

The rider head of me finishes and my heart rate kicks up.  I hear "Rider Ready.." and I realize I haven't paid attention to how many beeps there were on starting tone and make a guess at 5.  The first tone sound and I hear very softly behind me 4..3.. from Mike.

At 2 I take a deep breath. The final tone starts I surge hard out of the saddle with a large exhale, forcing the bike forward.  I power through the pedals trying to keep my weight balanced and line straight.  I hit the first corner and plant myself, noticing I haven't yet inhaled since the start.

The first lap is a blur.  I concentrate on riding good corners and keeping my leg speed as high as possible, always trying to accelerate.  I've opted for the "go out like hell and hang on" theory of Kilo riding, hoping that my history of successful long ranged sprints will serve me well.  Second lap down and I'm still running a quick time.

I hit the line to start my third lap and my breathing is starting to get labored.  My legs are still turning over be it not as fast as before.  I loose time in the corners due to sloppy lines and push hard exiting them to hopefully counter my lack of handling.

Last lap starts.  I'm sub one minute, but just barely.  Last lap times make or break most kilos.  Most riders in a division will have very similar lap times until the last lap where it all changes.  I hear the PA stating I'm on pace for the first sub 1:20 time of the night and it spurs me on.  Two corners left, my breathing is more like panting.  I fight the bike for more speed on the final stretch wanting to give it everything I had.  I hit the with a not so exaggerated gasp for air.  I'm fairly certain the legendary Alpenrose Gorilla was on my back for the last half lap.

1:20.05, and it was the hardest 1:20.05 I've ever spent on my bike.

I ran a 21 second final lap, after running 19s/20s/20s first three laps.  I hear the crowd cheering and the announcer stating it was the fastest time of the night so far.

I roll into the cool down track and it takes a good 5 minutes for my breathing and HR to come under control.  Traci brings water by and I quickly go through the entire bottle.

Another 5 minutes go by and my time is still holding.  There are 4 riders left and I finally get off my bike and head over to where my friends are in various stages of warm-ups.  It's congratulations all around for a fast first Kilo.  Bob also gives me crap for beating his PR on my first try.

With two riders remaining my time is holding, so the worst I can do is 3rd place.  The second to last rider runs faster splits for the first 3 laps but fades on the final stretch to clock in a 1:20.90.  The final rider turns a 1:22. 

Holy crap, I won a State Championship.

Candi surprises me with a medal and a hug, and Traci captures the moment with me wearing the medal and a cheezy grin.  Bob goes out a short bit later and rips the legs off of his field cutting a full 3 seconds off his PR in the process.  He thanks me for the added motivation.  I'm happy that my time would have been competitive in his field as well and know that with some added focus and a better bike I could hold my own there.  Two more State Champs for PV.  We celebrate with Beer and Cheeseburgers.

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