Ah yes. Blaine. A track, while living in Minnesota, I never knew existed. It wasn’t until two years after I moved from the state, that I finally rode it. And now I was back, in 2013, to give it a go again. All day Wednesday I twiddled my thumbs waiting for the rain to pass. Giving up, I put myself on the rollers I’ve come to know so well. Thursday morning came, I found a fabulous cafe for breakfast, and we started.
First up was the flying 200. Until 5pm on Thursday afternoon, I had never ridden the rail at the National Sports Center. Approximately 15 minutes prior to the starts of the 200s, my dad arrived from Alexandria with a package in his hand: my new custom Pearl Izumi speedsuit. (still straining to contain my excitement). I threw it on, repined my numbers, and jumped on the line. I wasn’t 100% pleased with my effort. It was less than the ideal conditions, being below 60 degrees, and misting enough to put a layer of moisture across my visor as I rode around the track. I came through with a 12.0…much slower than I had desired, but enough to place me as the top qualifier. I’d end up taking 3rd place this night. Losing in the semi-final to Dana Feiss, who eventually went on to take the gold final in a 2-1 race against Tela Crane.
My legs felt dead. I went back up to the dorms and fought off the image of the Pan American Champs in my head, where I had hit the wall, peaked early, and fallen on my way out before we had even left LA. I knew it was time to trust my coach, and believe in the program. This was the first race, we were testing the waters, and we would figure it out.
Friday: Keirin day. Whether my legs wanted to feel good or not, I was determined to psychologically make them the greatest they would yet. And they did feel good, and they did come alive. But I came up short in the keirin final and ended up taking a 2nd place. Disappointed, but still happy with my rides. The weather was much better. I had wished we would have done our flying 200s this day, instead of the rainy, cold weather from Thursday. Between the keirin heats, Cari Higgins and I paired up for the Madison Kilo. We may have had a good 5-10 minute practice session about an hour before the races began, but we got the job done.
Saturday : the chariot and the team sprint. The last time I raced a keirin was when Tony D. was still here with us. It’s been a few years. And even then, the idea of a 1.5 lap race is somewhat confusing, and exhilarating, and terrifying. Once again, I took 2nd place. Not being able to take it all the way, but enough to solidify my position as 2nd place in the sprint omnium. Pairing up with Cari Higgins again, this time in the team sprint, we did our best with an enduro/sprinter combo and ended up taking 2nd to the sprinter/sprinter combo. Not too shabby!
And now, it’s time. The drive back to Colorado. Another 14 hours in the car, time to prepare for our first UCI race of the season. This is what the fundraising is for, and this is what we’re racing for. I want to thank Pearl Izumi for the awesome skinsuit, and Atomic High Performance for my coated cogs/chainrings/chain combos. Both first race experience, and I’m more than thrilled to have it all.