Tuesday, July 26, 2011

SCCCC Collegiate Track Race #1

This weekend Kim and I carpooled to Houston to attend the first SCCCC track race of the season at the Alkek Velodrome in Katy. These were the events for the women:

5 Lap Handicap (5 laps with slowest riders starting furthest along the track)


There were 4 of us girls from A&M, and unfortunately only 1 girl each from UT and U of H. We were the only ones who could compete in the Team Pursuit and Team Sprint, but it was good practice. Nicole, Sarah and I did the Team Pursuit. The lead-out rider starts at the bottom of the track, which was Nicole, and I was supposed to be second, followed by Sarah. But when the gun fired I had a little too much gusto and ended up way in front of Nicole, so I pulled into the sprinter's lane because I wasn't sure what else to do. The rest of the team time trial went smoothly as Sarah and I pulled half laps (the track is 333 meters) and Nicole pulled full laps for a total of 4km in 3:21.36. For reference, at Collegiate Track Nationals last year, the first place team pulled 6km in 4 minutes, which we would have done in about 5. So I'd say that's not too bad for a bunch of newbies!

The next race was the Point-A-Lap, where the first rider on each lap gets a point. I was in the sprinter's lane and was wondering why Nicole and Afton were up at the top at the end of the first lap. I would soon figure it out - halfway through the second lap, they used that height to sprint past the field into the sprinter's lane as a breakaway. I tried to catch up, but I had bad positioning and my cadence was maxed. I had no idea what gears I needed, and apparently the rental track bike was not equipped for this race. Afton and Nicole kept their breakaway by TTTing for the remainder of the race, switching points each lap, and Afton won at the end. My legs were zapped from trying to catch up, and I DNFed due to frustration/fatigue.

Sarah helped me switch to a bigger gear for the next race. I had been running a 46-15, and all I could find was a 13 to replace the rear with. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to push it, but I definitely couldn't do any worse, so I went with it. The scratch race was going to be longer at 18 laps. Just like with the previous race, Afton and Nicole broke away early on. I had just rotated to the back of the pack and they were at the front. I pulled around the rest of the group and bridged to meet them after about half a lap. My legs were burning, and the second I reached them, they both moved up track so I could pull. Some livid language erupted from me, and I started backpedaling in angst, wasting all my energy. I dropped back with the pack and ended up in a pace line with Kim. She was going strong. I was very impressed. I finished 4th behind Kim. I was disappointed that I had wasted my energy on anger, but also was happy to know that, given the right gear, I could keep up with the breakaway.

The handicap left us positioned so that I only had 4.25 laps, while Afton, with the points lead, had the full 5. Gabby (UT) was right in front of me. I was determined to keep my positioning, and thought it possible since it was such a short race. Henri was my holder and got to push me when the gun fired. I quickly caught up with Gabby and we worked BEAUTIFULLY together to stay in the lead, switching every half lap. On the last lap I was in front, and was worried that I would be too tired to keep my position coming out of the last turn. But I told my legs to shut up, and cranked with all my might to win the handicap race.

Sunday, Nicole and I (Team Super Awesome) did some great teamwork on the team sprint to finish 2 laps in 1:01, with Kim and Sarah (Maroon Zebras) clocked in right behind us at 1:03. I love those short races, where I can pull with everything I have and know that it's short enough that I will live. I wasted myself on the first lap, pulled up track, and Nicole finished us off strong.

Next was the Points race, which was going to be more about endurance at 30 laps (about 10 miles). Afton stayed with the pack until the first points bell, then sprinted, and didn't stop after she won the points. Nicole and I TTTed it to try and catch up with her. I was giving it everything I had when I was in front, but Afton just stayed half a lap ahead the whole time, and we couldn't catch her. I finished 3rd behind Nicole.

Our final race was the Miss & Out, which had been my favorite during the development class. But unfortunately, at this point, my spirit had been broken. I stayed away from the back from the first few laps, but then I got in a bad position, and I just didn't care enough to fix it. Gabby was up track and passed me, and I was pulled on that lap. I ended up finishing 3rd in the Omnium which was better than I expected. Despite some setbacks, I learned that I love track racing, and I am more capable than I think I am. I also saw Sarah kick some serious butt despite not having trained much lately, Nicole showing track finesse, and Kim demonstrating some major increases in performance. I'm proud of the team girls!

I also have some things to look forward to this week - the Driveway on Thursday, and the State Team Time Trial with Kim and Rachel!