Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Gentle, Golden Promised Land

Boom! Racing update now!

Since I became one of the best Madison racers in the state, I've had a new perspective, looking down on all the little people, huddled in their masses, yearning for greatness. Well. I can tell you all: it is great, and it tastes so sweet.

The greatness continued with more track racing. First was some Friday night racing right in the midst of a hefty training block. I sucked bad in my first ever keirin, but got my sweet revenge in the 6x5 points race, taking off about 2 laps in, snatching the first points, and then grabbing them here and there with the four guys that bridged up to me. I wound up 3rd, but I was pleased. Jamie Stangeland is so fast.

The next day was the International Omnium. It consisted of a flying 200, scratch, pursuit, points, and kilo in that order. Despite awesome racing weather, the men's field wound up with a whole nine racers. Most were pretty beat from racing 12 hours earlier, and it only took a 12.2 for me to win the 200. The scratch and points races were raced pretty negatively. A move went in the scratch and I wound up on the wrong end, getting 5th. In the points race, it was clear that no one wanted to let me attack without them, so I just played sprinter, and won it, along with the kilo and pursuit, so I won the overall.

(my lil' steed ready for some HIGH OCTANE PURSUITING!!!!)

That was the last racing before Elite Track Nats this week in LA, so I just kept busy training and getting ready for the last race of the season. Benny came up from Portland to race Starcrossed last weekend and stayed with me for a few days. We managed to get out on a ride through the Snoqualmie Valley, my new favorite training grounds.

(Benny on Carnation Farm Rd)

(Heidi Biggs made us this custom huckleberry-vanilla cupcake at Cupcake Royal!!)

(A lady on the street handed me this fortune cookie with what might be the
most disappointing fortune I've ever received: a crummy commercial.)

Ben headed off to Las Vegas for Interbike, while I kept getting ready for LA. One day, it was raining a LOT during my ride. My Ridley comes with the cool design feature of not having a drain for water that finds its way into the frame, so this is how you get the water out.

Two days ago, I started the drive down, and now I'm in The Wasteland itself! Here are some photo/video highlights:

(Rainbow coalition of trucks outside of LA)

(California includes a little moral judgment with their legal reminders)

(The Baloona Creek Bike path. If it looks familiar, it's because it's where Keanu Reaves did this.)

(The cool thing to do was make Inukshuks along the creek.)

Sorry for the tiny video. I took it with my cell phone while riding on the track during a motor pacing session. The derny was scary and I kept looking back to see if it was going to run me down. Luckily it didn't, although I almost did it's work for it: apparently the fall-down speed at this track is 18mph, which is about what I was doing when I was spinning around the blue line. Oops. I got lucky though. That would have been a great way to kick of my Track Nats debut.

More later. I race the Scratch on Thursday, the Pursuit on Friday, and the Points on Saturday.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Madison Racing!

New best thing: Madison racing.

For those who don't know what's up, a Madison can be any endurance race on the track (scratch, points, pursuit, etc.), raced tag-team with 2 people. When you're in, you're racing, and when you're out, you're waiting for your partner to come along to tag you in. The thing about the 'tag' is, it's not so much a tag as it is a throw:

I'd known about Madisons for some time, but even as far as bike racing is concerned, the Madison seems more difficult to approach because of the technical skills, need for a similarly-skilled partner, and the fact that there aren't that many Madisons to be raced around here. Luckily for me, on Monday, the prolific Bilko was kind enough to donate some of his time to teach me the rudimentary skills required to race a Madison. Part of the Monday night series at Marymoor is a Madison, but since it's not coupled with regular 1-2 racing (like Friday night), turnout is pretty low. Still, we got to practice some before the race, and then take on our competition (Hyun Lee + his partner) afterward. Peep the strategy (photos by Dennis Crane)!

(Bilko giving me the huck)

(I didn't know shoulders go this way)

So after that night of intense, tactically brain-melting racing, I figured I was pretty much ready for anything. So I begged Ian Crane to blow off Jennie Reed and race the State Champs Madison with me 4 days later. And he did!!! See?

(my Madison partner [and new best friend?], Ian Crane)

(there's Jennie Reed, probs crying because she had to find another partner)


They had us race three races, but I'll just skip to the 5x10 points race that finished the night off. There were five teams contesting the race, and our clearest competition was the team of Grant Boursaw and Jamie Stangeland. Ian and I decided to try and keep me in with Jamie, while Ian would go in with Grant. Timing exchanges for the sprint laps is like running at a soccer ball. 20 steps away, it's hard to tell if you're on your right footing, but when you get to 5 steps, you can tell if you're going to be on to hit it with some power. Likewise, for a points sprint, it's ideal to throw in your sprinter as late as possible so he can whip the sprint. At Marymoor, the rule is no exchanges within 200m of the sprint, so throwing between turns 1 and 2 on bell lap is the best option.

Coming into the first sprint, all the teams were together, and most made their exchange just after the bell. I threw Ian in, and he took 2nd just behind Grant. 2 or 3 laps later, we were exchanging staggered from Grant and Jamie. I think Jamie got a jump when Grant threw him in on the back straight, and he came over the top of me and Jennie Reed. She wasn't up to covering it, so I jumped around her and booked it for 250 meters until I threw Ian in. Unfortunately, the gap was there, and Jamie's attack pretty much blew up the field. It was G+J with a couple seconds to me and Ian, with the rest of the field rapidly falling behind us. I think that in a larger Madison with a lot of strong teams, this wouldn't have been as much of an issue, and other teams could have helped us bring them back, but as it stood, it was basically us chasing after G+J, and they were stronger, so they slowly pulled away.

Here's where the Madison rules started to play tricks on us. By about the 2nd sprint, G+J had lapped the remaining riders, while we were en route to doing so. The other three teams latched on to G+J, and suddenly, that 4-team group became the lead group that was sprinting for points, even though three of the teams were at -1 lap. Since we were in no man's land, despite being 2nd team on the road, we were getting zero points at the sprints. It was clear that G+J were going to lap us, and if they brought the field with them, then we would really be hosed, because we would have missed out on all those points, plus we wouldn't have a lap on the other teams. So we kept the pressure on and forced G+J to drop the group again to avoid us catching them. Eventually, G+J came around again, putting us at -1 and the rest of the field at -2.

So after that little fuck up, which lasted until the 4th sprint, we decided to nail the final sprint. I threw Ian in at corner 3 coming into 3 to go. Timing-wise, this meant I had to shoot up-track and cram on the brakes so that he could throw me back in 1 lap later (2 to go) so that I could throw him in at corner 1 on the bell lap. Our focus on timing paid off. I led Grant through the bell, sprinted into the exchange, and hucked Ian in with 350 to go. Jamie didn't get his exchange until almost the pursuit line on the back stretch, by which time Grant had lost a lot of momentum and Jamie was having to use his own power to get himself up to speed. So while G+J made their exchange, Ian was already opening up his sprint, which he managed to take by several bike lengths over Jamie.

All in all, not a bad run for my first Madison. We even made a little cash, got tiny silver medals, and a kid racer was doling out cupcakes after the races. Nice!

Then the next day, I went riding and saw a BLIMP!!!

Can't see the blimp? Let me enhance the picture: