Once upon a time (last weekend) in a land far far away (LA) a Naked trackie (Me) walked off a plane from Denver into a land of expensive taxis and smog filled skies. Ok writing this in third person is hard so forget that.
Ok here is the quickest version of this past whirl wind weekend that I could muster up. Such an intense weekend has left me feeling like I have an insane hangover… not that I would know though what that feels like. Anywho.
Land at LAX. Take shuttle to rental car company. Company X oversold their fleet of cars and my reserved car was not available and they didn’t have any additional. Ok no worries I’ve lived in a foreign country where they don’t speak English so LA should be no problem. Must keep breathing. Call cab and head straight for the track. Driver tell me during ride that he is gong to charge me double for transporting my bike box. I tell him he can pull over and I will walk my bike the remaining 9 miles but I am not paying double. He stops all conversation but delivers me and Roxie (bike) to track for the original agreed upon amount. Dang straight fool. Thanks again China, I owe you!
Get all my stuff (luggage, wheels, and Roxie) into track, make besties with the manager of track (Matt) and head down to the infield to start building my bike and pretend like I know what I am doing. When I went to open the door to the infield for the first time I froze and heard every mental demon screaming in my head “you don’t belong here, you are not good enough, what a joke to even walk in, go home before you embarrass yourself, you’ll embarrass everyone.” My head said turn around and call another cab but the heart wanted to know what was on the other side of the door. Deep breath. Go now.
Once inside I found my Coach (Cari) and she slipped me a verbal Xanax. Bike got built about the same time my Team Sprint partner (Stephanie) and her big legged fiance (Geoff) roll in. Perfect timing. Coach tells us how to get on the track and what to avoid. Sidebar: this is a much steeper, smaller, slicker wooden track.. it is very different from Colorado Springs… just trust me on this one.
As we are about to roll out Coach grabs me and says to keep your space from each other because if one of us goes down we shouldn’t take each other out. Just about the time I get rolling I hear KAAATTHHHUUUUDDDDD. Team Sprint partner goes a sliddin’ and comes to a very hard stop on the deck. She was basically ok but managed to take home some wooden souvenirs in her skin and saddle. This set the tone for the rest of the weekend for us LA Velo newbies. Note to self: crashes happen even if you are by yourself. After crash crash boom I spent the rest of the afternoon getting used to the track from the sprinters lane all the way up to the rail and then trying to swoop back down at “high speeds”. This track ain’t no joke. Go too slow and goodnight Irene it’s a slick and hard ride to a sudden stop. Go too hard up the embanking and it is like short punchy hill repeats every single half lap.
Day 1: Omnium – Flying Lap, Points Race, and Elimination
Flying Lap: (solo 3 laps to wind up speed and then timed on the last lap around the track). I mentally was most confident about this event. In the Springs I really like the flying 200 so this was only 50 meters more right? Oh wait this track is different and I don’t really know how to wind up slowly so I don’t completely zap my legs before I am to sprint and punch the %&*# out of my pedals. As soon as Mark Tyson pushed me onto the track I was like a bullet. No gradual, no breathing, no anything but pure gas. When it came time for me to jump my quads locked up tighter than have ever before and I basically collapsed onto my saddle from my standing sprint. Thankfully I didn’t fall completely off of my bike like I really thought was going to happen. Somehow I was able to not have the slowest time. I got lucky. These people can sprint.
Points Race: (80 laps with points awarded every 10 laps for the first 4 across the line each time). I was most worried about this event because well I don’t cycle 80 of anything. Ever. 80 is a very big number and with the depth of this field I knew I would be in pure pain cave from the beginning until I died (or finished). I told myself to not look at the lap counter until I was really hurting. To my surprise I thought when I did look at the lap counter it would be much much much lower than the 74 laps to go that I saw. Blerg. Did I mention pain cave? Yeah, I really want to say hell here and other sailor type words. These people have endurance.
Elimination: (Hunger games on bikes. Every 2 laps the last person across the line is cut until 2 riders left and then they duke it out. Lots of sneaky trickery goes into this one) I like the sneak attack in this race the only bummer is that if let’s say your COACH can push the pace from the front the entire race it makes this technique very difficult. I was able to pull this “devil” maneuver off for a little while but after match numero 3.2 million was burned I got cut. These people are smart.
Day 2: Omnium – 3k Pursuit, Scratch, and 500m
3k Pursuit: (Just like TT but this time a gate is holding bike at start) I’ve actually never done this event before and have never been in a starting gate either. The Boss is actually a beast at this event and to be honest I can’t make myself want to hurt as bad as she does. 12 laps of fun fun oh wait nope wrong story, there was no fun in this. Mark Tyson gave me my cues each lap with lots of “ok maybe try to pick it up, yeah I mean it this lap, hello can you hear me, ugh are you deaf, or maybe dead, yep you must be dead” as I rolled by him each time. I think I will keep letting the Boss have her “fun” all by herself. These people are tough.
20k Scratch: (40 laps and whoever crosses line first wins) when I did the math to figure out how many laps this race was going to be I literally almost cried. We get so little sleep between the omnium events and my body was already on shut down mode from all of the other endurance events. This crap ain’t for the weak. I actually tried to work the pack a bit during this race and closed down a very early attack. I’d like to blame that for the fireworks in my legs that happened later but ummm that would be a fib. These people don’t stop.
500m: (held start and 500m go all out sprinter style) This was my second most confident race because I have done these a couple of times. My start was pretty good for me and my time wasn’t too terrible considering that this was the 6th and final event. Ouuuccchhhh from the beginning till the end. For a brief moment in time I was in the lead of this event. VERY BRIEF. These people are sick.
This concludes the Omnium portion of our program. Coach Cari Higgins won and racked up her 15th National Title. BEAST! I didn’t die. AMAZING. These people are inspiring.
Day 3: Team Sprint
TS: (held start, 1st person leads and ramps man 2 up to speed and then peels off at the appropriate place and then man 2 wants to die while racing another lap to complete the 500m) My Team Sprint Partner is 99.99% of the time a much better starter than I am so our biggest concern was that she would drop me at the beginning and I’d have to really burry myself to catch her and then be zonked for the final lap. For whatever reason I had the best start I’ve ever had and Steph had the worst she has ever had. This made for a very panicky moment of “oh god I know I HAVE to drop behind her by some point on the track but I don’t exactly know where that is but if I slow too much I may slide down the track on my wattage cottage and take her out with me”. Thankfully Steph was able to rally and I tucked in behind her. We finished the Team Sprint with lots of “ugh that never happens what happened” comments. These people are savages.
Overall: I had an amazing time and am so glad that I got to go to Elite Track Nationals. I learned more in a weekend than I feel like I have learned all season. Also, I feel much more confident going into future racing, traveling, clutch time type situations knowing that I don’t crack under stressful situations. Who knew? Even though I royally got “it” handed to me this weekend I am more determined, motivated, and dedicated than ever. I know I want this no matter what. The mental demons will not dictate where I go or what I do. My heart says go open the door and see what is on the other side.
But more than anything I am thankful. From the beginning I have had these key people who have filled a giant gap for me trying to crack into this sport. Without their support, direction, and encouragement there is absolutely no way I could have gone from complete track newbie to elite track nationals racer in just 1 season. I owe everything to them.
Thank you Naked for allowing me to fly the flag this season as a distant roadie and a junkie trackie.
Teammies thank you for all the facebook, twitter, and email love. If I did hugs I would give them to you. From Sharon’s bike box to an in person “hello I am here if you need help” via a friend from Maria you guys made this so much easier. It means so much to know a group of people back home are stoked you are even playing with the big girls no matter what the outcome is.
Katie Kackler Macarelleli you are a jerk face and I love the hell out of your stupid guts. You have given more unconditional support than an underwire bra (i will explain what this is later Kackler) and have stood by all my crazy crazy moments this entire season. You are a great friend but I’ll never admit that.
Cari Coach Higgins I blame you and thank you for all of this nationals omnium jibber jabber. You make my legs hurts, my lungs burn, my heart pound, and my spirit fly. If only I could be half the racer, coach, and person you are. Let’s try ok, just not today.
Ingrid “The Boss” Alongi. No words. Too much. Seriously. You helped put the training wheels on, got me rolling, watched me take them off, and supported me in every single way possible. You are the reason I got to go explore this track dream and for that I am forever grateful. I found my passion on your/our/my orange bike and because of you. Thank you.
2014 Elite Track Nats watch out. I am hungry for more.