July 31, 2006

FSA Grand Prix
Group Health Velodrome, Redmond, Washington

Well, I think mother nature crammed all of the summer heat into last weekend. We had to use arm and leg warmers over this July weekend. 4 Rubicon riders, 1 Chuck, and a side of Adam made the trip up to ride on the un-banking of this 400 track. This track is excellent for beginners and on a calm day, would be excellent for beginners and timed events, due to no corner transitions and smooth surface. It's nice a wide, so there's enough safe room for warm ups and being able to move through the race pack. But for those of us born on Alpenrose, the track isn't that fun. 400 meters is LONG. It's hard to cheer for folks from the infield because it's hard to hear, and there's no banking, so no sudden movements out of corners 2 and 4.

Some other reasons that Alpenrose Velodrome is way more cooler....
1. Free Parking
2. Free for spectators
3. More spectator space
4. Open gate that allows riders get on the track more than 90 minutes before their event
5. Grocery store about 1/2 mile away

ref: #6.... Many of you know that Splinter has the craft down. He can make paint drying and grass growing sound like the damn superbowl. He knows the riders- and if he doesn't, he'll use the rider profiles we took 5 minutes at registration to fill out. He'll talk up every rider, no matter their resume. And throw in a little Dave Campbell, you have the best announcer team. We are really spoiled. Luciano, Steve, Gary, others- you're awesome as well. I offended the husband of Friday's announcer, when he overheard us commenting on her style (think Ferris Bueller's teacher taking attendance.) "She makes a near track record sound boring." Well, I was put in my place by him informing us, that she's a 5 time world champion. HUH? Whoopie! Because, ability on the track is in direct relation with being able to announce a track race- and it was pursuits for goodness sake. Splinter rescued us from sheer ear boredom from Friday evening and Dave came Saturday.

So, about the racing. Friday afternoon, I was camp helper. Chuck did a pursuit and did well, only 2 seconds off his best (and only other) time. With the wind, other riders experienced 2-5 second losses as well.

Friday evening, I won my first Keiren round. Our heat only had 4 riders and 2 went through to finals- Annette and myself. The final ride didn't pan out as well. I made a few mistakes and finished 5th.

Saturday morning, the wind guaranteed no track records. My 200 meter time was 13.15- a northwest P.R. for me, but I really wanted to drop under 13. Luckily, this time was good enough to seed 2nd behind Jennie's 12.6 (?). The 500 m. was another story. The word on the street/ infield is that whatever you ride at Alpenrose, to gear up 2" for this track. I stayed with my 94" for the 200m. , due to the wind and chill. By later in the morning, the wind had died a bit and it was a little warmer. I decided to gear up for my 500m. When I called Brian I said, "I'll try this gear. If it's too hard, I'll know for next time and if it's just right I should go fast." The 94" was too hard. I think I would have been easily under 40 seconds in a lower gear. 40.01 placed me 4th of 15, by 0.2 seconds. Miranda threw down a 39.2 to win. The top 3 qualify for nationals. A 500m. on this track is a lap and a quarter. Donna made the point later that this puts you in a head wind twice and tail wind only once. So, I needed a little longer to get over this than the keiren.

Thanks Amara for the photos below. www.wheelsinfocus.com

On to the sprints- my game. Sprints on this track are 2 laps. My first sprint was against Kele Murdin. She's super strong on the road, so has endurance. I fully expected the long run. I told Mike, my holder, to throw me the heck out there, so I'd be ready for the long run. But she was willing to play match sprint. It was a good race. I jumped out of turn 2 and held off for the win. My second ride was against Jen Tripplet. So, getting to know her in the last year, I've shared a lot with Jen about my racing, including some secret strategies. I really have to quit that. When we rolled off the line, she busted out the almost-track-stand, knowing that I couldn't. How did she know? I told her. Luckily for me, the official told her to speed up. I guess you have to ride a steady pace until the back side pursuit line. On the Alpenrose track, you have to roll out at least 12 mph to avoid owies. Jen rode me similar to Kele. I kept her on my outside and matched her pace, until my attack. With a bit more of a jump, Jen was able to ride my wheel the last 200m. But I was able to cross the line first, although it was close.

My final sprint that evening was against Jennie. In the 3 other times, I been in tournaments with her, I've seeded 2nd to her, but haven't raced against her. I think I did a good job overall with my tools. She's just hecka fast and has a bigger tool box. In our first ride, I protected my space as best I could. I was never controlled by her. In the final lap, she jumped out of turn 2- over me from the outside. I bridged up to her wheel and began to come around. She rode just as fast as she had to. I'd get to about her bottom bracket and she surged a little. I dug, she surged, I dug, she surged, I dug, she won. Ride 2 was pretty similar, but her attack was on the inside this time. Why didn't I attack? I don't know- I guess I was into the whole "try-what-didn't-work-last-time-and-see-if-it-works-this-time." Funny, how that rarely works out.

So, I qualified for nationals and make a couple bucks. Here's a bulleted version of the rest of the evening.
1. Pulled 3rd or 4th from miss-n-out. I have to quit thinking that I'm going to squeeze between two girls in lanes 2 and 3.
2. Was dropped (yes dropped) from the scratch race- missed a wheel- looked back- no more wheels. I hung in, hoping one of those road riders would take a flyer, catch me and pull me to group? No such luck. I quit with about 4 laps to go, when the group caught me.
3. Packed up in about 6 minutes and began the 3 hour drive home- at 9:30.

July 23, 2006

Oregon State Track Chamionships

Let's start with the weather. HOLY SOUTH FLORIDA! On Friday night we had the 500m. It was HOT out and the air was heavy. All things considered, I was happy with the 40.4 time I had, beginning my collection of gold medals.

Saturday was the pursuit. I joked with Brian about doing it, secretly hoping that he'd say no. So I did it in a 86" gear. This turned out to be a good thing because I had almost perfect lap times. So what that the time was around 25 seconds. Ha ha ha! My time was 4:30, which is about 6 seconds off my best time, but it's no big deal.

Sunday began not super duper hot. I was excited because the boys were posting some good 200m. times. I was hoping to get under 13 seconds. I did a few things in my approach that affected my 13.2 time that I can fix, but I'm basically done "performing on the Alpenrose track for this year. This is a P.R. for me. (starting to get hot) There were only 3 women (Miranda, Andrea, and I) sprinting today. I played smart and controlled my 2 races to win gold. (it's hot out)The keiren had 4 women, including the 3 sprinters and Kayla. (HOLY HOTTNESS!) I rode second behind the motor and Miranda. It was a fairly uneventful ride and I finished my gold streak.

Deano won his keiren and Caset got 3rd. RIGHT ON BOYS! Chuck won the kilo and pursuit in his category. He won by A LOT, so he's obviously motivaed to actually practice these events. SWEET JOB, BABE.

July 10, 2006

Alpenrose Challenge
Session #5-6
July 9, 2006

The morning began with the 200m. TT for seeding into the sprint tournament. My time of 13.34 seconds was acceptable, since it's my faster clocked time. Last year I had a 13.38. I didn't take the best line off the bank. This placed me second behind Becky's 13.2ish. The first round sprint was against Kele Murdin, a very esteemed road rider. I won this round and hung out to see who would repacharge through. My next victory sprint was against Andrea Fisk. I was going to be in the semi finals and at least in 4th place.

The afternoon began with the semi- final ride. I was matched with Auna- Brit. I was stoked to ride against another sprinter- one that wanted to play the game. I felt in control in teh first two laps. Coming around for our last lap, I purposely stayed out of the sprinters lane, which allowed me to move up to prevent a come around. This time however (unlike my race is C-Springs) I kept a close watch on the inside. When my opponent disappeared from site, I hooked up coming out of turn 4. I dug and dug to the finish- about a half wheel ahead! YEY!

"We have an announcement from the officials. Heather has been relegated for dangerous riding. The win will go to Auna-Brit." HUH? What followed was a little stress, a talk with the chief official, the thought of protest, the reading of the rules, and finally cooling off and accepting his judgement that I had made a sudden movement of more than the allowed 90 cm. with my hook.

Okie dokie- so I would be sprinting against Annette Hansen for 3rd. This time I rode a similar race, I stayed right on the red line and took the lane going into turn 3. There would be no calls against me, since now I was stuck in the lane. I won this ride, earning 3rd place overall.

At this point I was in contention for 2nd place in the omnium. I was originally going to ride the scratch race to pick up a few dollars in lap points. But Norenne pointed out that if we could finish me in front of Annette and Auna-Brit, I should finish 2nd overall. All I had to do was follow her around the track for 30 laps.

In the process, I picked up some dollars in lap points. Kele attacked us and eventually took a lap, so she would be the winner unless someone else went, which they didn't. With 6 or so laps to go, one rider went down. I was heading right for her, visualizing how I would fly myself. Luckily for both of us, she kept sliding further off the track, and I only barely clipped her helmet as I went by. Race still on, I continued behind my leader. Like we had rehearsed it, Norrene pulled up in turn two and I drove on, with Becky on my bum. She had to like the nice lead out as well, and overtook me easily I'm sure. I finished 3rd in the race, earning 2nd overall in the omnium. Norenne got the cash for the win, since essentially she won the race for me and I was happy with the omnium prize!

But wait, there's more! The flying lap was only about 30 minutes away. I rounded up a disc wheel from Donna, threw on Chuck's new swanky TT helmet and rolled out. With the cheers of my friends and teammates and the clickers in the crowd, I was ramped up enough to pull out a 18.22, which was a PR (over last year's 18.57) for me and a win.

I have never had so much fun and success at one event. I feel more confident in my skills and speed, less afraid of bumping and tight quarters. Granted, we were missing Jennie and Erin, but the supportive cheers on my home track provide memories and movitation to keep training and driving hard for the qualifier in Seattle in 3 weeks and Nationals in October. It's still a long road, ehr, track. Thanks everyone for your encouragement, cheers, compliments, and anecdotes. I picked up a lot of philosophy and various opinions, especially Sunday! This is much food for thought and tools in my bag.

Racer and announcer, Dave Campbell produced a nice write up for the Fixed Gear Fever website:

Alpenrose Challenge
Session #3-4 Saturday, July 8th.

#3 Saturday morning began with the Keiren rounds. In the my heat, I went for the motor and wound up with the best draft considering the size of the other girls, sitting behind the sleek guzzy motor. Knowing that other riders would try to come up on me, I swept my lane on the corners and protected the inside. Becky Quinn was in my heat. She's a tough rider and I knew I'd have to react to whatever moves she played. When the motor pulled off, I attacked, but only rode as fast as I had to on the first of 2 laps without the motor. With one to go, I attacked again with Becky with me. I guess we opened up a gap. In turn 3 she came over me. She finished first by a big gap, and I got second, so I was automatically in the finals that night. Later in the morning session, we had the miss-n-out. Here's how it went: We began with 13 riders. I survived a few pulls and then I missed.... and was out ....in 9th place :)

#4 The evening session kicked off with the keiren finals. This time I was second behind the motor, following Auna-Brit. Becky was behind me. I, again, protected my space, both left and right. Coming out of turn 2, Becky caught me sleeping/ watching the inside and snuck up on my outside. Her and I pretty much shared Auna-Brit's wheel for a couple of laps. At one point, I was squeezed back, but hustled back in. For a few moments we shared a lane. It was a little tight in the corners and I visited the apron a titch, but tried to hold firm to my spot. Don't remember much about the last lap other than the end, when only 2 riders got to the finishe line first- Becky, followed by Auna- Brit.

More about the last day later. I'm off to the track for Team Rubicon's Girls Night Out!

July 8, 2006

Portland Alpeonrose Velodrome Challenge
Session #1 and #2

Yesterday morning was the 3K pursuit. I only decided to do this race Thursday night after realizing that there won't be many riders. I was correct. 5 women would be in contention. I was in the first ride against a girl named Mary Maroon. The weather was perfect, the wind was none and I felt pretty good. Riding an 88" gear, I rode a 4:28. This was good enough for second place and the lunch money that accompanied. This is 4 seconds slower than last year, but I was riding a slower gear and I'm not much of a pursuit rider in the first place. I was happy with in and stuck around to call splits for others. Per and Steven had great rides. Track hack settled in.

In the evening session, I felt good during my warmup for the 500m. TT. I think it helped to have done a light geared pursuit in the morning. My jumps felt good. I was fortunate to have what Darrell and I named a "windopause", which would be a pause in the wind. My start wasn't stellar. The holder wasn't very solid and I think that bothered me in the start. It wasn't horrible, but I think I may have had a sub 40. My 40.31 is a new P.R. on Alpenrose track and it placed me 3rd behind Becky Quinn (39.2) and Auna-Brit (39.7). Considering those .3 wouldn't have placed me any higher, I wasn't disappointed.

Today is the Keiren and Miss-n-out.

July 5, 2006

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig
Independence Day Grand Prix- Colorado Springs, Colorado
The End

Let's see, where did we leave off.... Oh, yes, last night.
I lost my first sprint round against a woman named Liz Something-or-other. The evening got under way at 5:00. The rain got under way around 5:30. After my sprint and another, the men got through a few short races. But as soon as the downpour began, like cockroaches, we scurried under cover. After about 10 minutes of wondering, everyone took their bikes to the tunnel, lowered thier tents to protect what whas still under them, and laughed over the circumstances. The low quality photo is from my phone, of all the bikes and a few riders sitting in the tunnel.

The rumor was that we had to turn out the track lights at 9:30, or when the fireworks started. After 2 hours of sitting, eating, and wondering what would happen, the rain had stopped 20 minutes before, and racing continued. During this pseudo-session, I had a 3 up sprint for a chance to race in the semi- finals. I played a good game and had a nice gap in the final sprint. But then my idiot kicked in and I left the sprint lane open for a girl named Cari Higgins and she worked to get me at the line. So, I got 5th in the sprints.

The racing goes on, with crashes in the men's keiren round and in the masters 1 mile race- both creating delays. The first firework boom was the signal to cut the track lights. BOOM! (ooh) BOOM, krackle, (aah) narrated the next 30 minutes. Pretty fireworks lit the sky as racers, family, and race staff sat in the infield to gawk, ooh, and ahh.

Finally- track time is 10:00 pm. The men's keiren final go, as does the women's sprint semi's with that Cari girl, beating Anna-Brit (total surprise) and Liz beating her opponent. So, my first 2 sprints were lost to the enventual top 2. Just as the these two ladies set up to ride, the rain started again. This time, the officials and promoter threw in the towel. These racers would split the money for 1st and 2nd. And the madison registrants would share prize money equally.

So, in the end, this was not the most fun racing. I drew the outside spots for both keirens, I rode too big a gear for the scratch race, It rained twice during the racing, I made a huge sprint mistake, leaving that lane open for Cari (who mentioned more than once that she was a rookie and bas been on the track for 5 weeks), and have 3 days to shake it all off.

AVC is this weekend. I see great things in my future....

July 4, 2006

Day I-don't- know

9:00- We be racing this morning. 1st keiren heat there were 4 of us. I got 4th. In the rep round, I was 1st to the motor from 5th on the rail. However, one rider was obligated to take the motor unless someone else took it, but they relegated her for not trying- lame. So the second time to the rail, that rider wasn't there and I was 4th again in line behind the motor. I launched the attack, but the 2 riders came around me. That placed me 7th overall- of an eventual 8.

This is not my best performance. Sprints tonight. First ride is against the woman that won the keiren.


Like someone set a clock on it, the rain started 5 minutes before racing was to start. We begin again tomorrow morning at 9:00.

July 3, 2006

Day 3
Race Day #1- AM

This morning was just the 200m. TT. I fet great druing warmup, did a few runs, decided on the 94" gear. However, I just wasn't that fast. I posted a 12.69, which on this track is pretty slow. Last year I had a 12.5. There were only 7 women- all fast. I finished 6th of 7. The 7th place time, was only .004 slower. I was pretty disappointed, since I was hoping for a faster time than last year. I'm going to have a hard first sprint. With only 7 sprinters, 1st will get a buy first round. I'm sure they'll take the rest of us and do match- ups to narrow it down to 3, and that will be the semi- finals.

But that's all tomorrow. Tonight we have the Kerien and scratch race. I'll get back later with a report.

July 2, 2006

Indenpendence Day Grand Prix
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Day 2

Well, not too much adventure today. I went to the track with Mark and Katie this morning and did my workout, which included a few warm up laps and some flying 200s. I figured out my gearing and a good line. I felt good. Well, I thought I felt good. After my last two efforts, I experienced a little dizziness and desperate gasps for air. Elevation here is abotu 6000, which is about 5600 feet higher than Alpenrose. Breathing is touch, but that's just another reason for not doing a points race :)

After getting my little (really little) rental car, I tootled to.... Actually, I can't tell- it's a surprise for Chuck.

As I write this afternoon, the daily late afternoon thunderstorm is coming by- not too much rain, but some fantastic lightening and thunder claps.

July 1, 2006

Independence Day Grand Prix
Colorado Springs
Day 1

So even before I get to Katie and Mark's house, I had a funny day. The plan was to get to Denver, get my bike and duffle from the baggage claim and wait 2 hours for my $60 shuttle. When I get to the baggage area, I see Becky Quinn with one of her team's mechanics. We chit chat a little and I mention waiting for the shuttle, when mechanic guy says that I could probably get a ride with them.

So I wait with them as other members of the Spike team show up. We got into one van and the bikes went in the other. My bike was going to the track. So, team staff guy drives me to the house and calls mechanic guy to ask about my bike.

Unknowingly, he'd put my bike together. He said that he just opened the box and started putting parts together. Then he started to wonder why there were pint glasses and big bottles of beer (from mcmennamins to give my hosts.) Finally, he noticed my name on the top tube. Well, all be! So, when I drove to the grocery store, I stopped by the track to pick up the box and thank mechanic guy.

I forgot my computer charger on this trip- oh bother. I have to borrow a computer the rest of weekend.