My favorite part of crashing on polished Siberian Cedar is that instead of the surface abrading your skin, you just slide until the friction begins to burn you.
Last you heard from me, I had almost crashed at the LA 'drome during warmup. Man, would THAT have been embarrassing. Especially the day before racing started. Well, luckily I saved up all my crashing until 30 minutes before the pursuit, when I crashed during warmup. My foot came out of the pedal while I was accelerating up from the apron and I landed with a mighty 'thud.' There was a short period of serenity immediately after landing as I silently glided past the upturned faces of the racers on the infield, wondering what had just happened. The heat shortly interrupted the serenity, and I began to roll just as I felt the skin on my shoulder and hip begin to burn.
After collecting myself, I stopped to daub myself with antiseptic and donned a new skinsuit with fewer holes in it. My high impact adventure had cost me about 20 minutes of premium warmup time, and I had the post-crash shakes something awful. I was in a bad place mentally. There had been some rescheduling issues, equipment issues, the crash, and I also felt strangely alienated at the track, despite being surrounded by people I knew. Track cycling seems like it can be pretty clique-ish, and despite having people like Tela and Jen Triplett there, I felt out of place, which was unnerving.
So after dusting my shoulders off, I got my bike ready and started listening to Calvin Harris.
I don't know how much there is to say about the race itself. It feels like the pursuit just washes over me, although this time it felt a little corrupted by the bad vibes and the blown legs from racing the scratch earlier in the day. All that crap was "cut losses," and my dad was at the race, so there was nothing to do but lace up and give 'er. I wound up posting a 4:58.5, well short of my goal.
Despite my disappointment, I set a personal best by about 5 seconds, and went under 5 minutes for the first time. Additionally, it was good to go and see that even the best guys in the country are human. They all put their shorts on one leg at a time, and they all make sputtering noises during the last 1k of the pursuit. Watching Dan Harm is always impressive, and it made me want to get a lot better at this event.
So after the pursuit was the points race. I didn't qualify in the morning heat, and that was it for 2010.
After the race, I was overcome by a powerful anger, which I released outside of the velodrome. As I stood outside, breathing heavily, I looked at myself. I was covered in spit and sweat. The veins on my legs and arms looked like braided cable. I had brought my form to a peak, which had given me enough strength to barely hang onto the race for 20 minutes. There hadn't been any triumphant effort on my part, no perfectly-timed move to snatch victory from my more experienced competitors, just a frantic clinging to wheels until the final sprint played out 100 meters in front of me. My work, the consistent focus on training that I had maintained each day for a full 12 months leading to that race, hadn't been enough. As my clenched fists grew tighter, I cursed the slow passage of time that, if filled with unwavering attention to detail and hard work, could bring to fruition the sort of performance that I wanted now. I reared back and roared at the sky, lamenting my helplessness.
Then I began to plot how best to channel that emotion.