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.