Marymoor Grand Prix and My First Two US Track Records

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Keirin Win

I wish the Marymoor Grand Prix could go on forever. Day after day, racing in what I consider to be one of the most beautiful places in the United States, with crowds in the thousands,  from 10am to midnight…If you haven’t experienced it, you have no idea what you are missing.

I’m taking a page from one of my favorite people, Travis Smith, and focusing on everything positive that came out of this trip. The results stand for themselves, but it’s the small things I did, in every single ride, making corrections from ride to ride, and learning from every single one of my experiences. I’m too new in this sport to expect perfection every time, but given the pressure we are under, I do. It’s nice to step back and remember why I’m doing this again…

Let’s start from the beginning. Not only did I get an awesome place to stay, but I got a place that actually requested sprinters. How lucky was I? I’m not going to give their name out, because they are all mine. Forever and beyond. My “MGP family”. All you enduros don’t want to stay there anyways, we act, eat, and sleep like sprinters. You wouldn’t know what to do with yourselves. But yet again, an amazing experience with a family from the Marymoor family, who just simply loves to race their bikes. Thank you so much for your hospitality and taking care of me. And being there, being supportive, and just downright awesome.

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500m
(Photo by Amara Edwards)

Marymoor was good to me last year. It was our last stop on the “summer camp” tour, and my first summer racing track bikes. I was two months into my training, and my head was swamped with so much new information, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Having Kevin, Tela, Cristin, and the whole Project London crew helping me out and supporting me through that whole summer was something I will always be grateful for.

This year I had Kevin, and my secret host family, along with the usual summer camp crew. I can’t tell you how awesome it was to see everyone again, and hang out, laugh, let everything go, and just simply race my bike. I messed up, I did some stupid stuff, but in the end, I learned, and I loved it.

The first day was packed. First up we had the 500m. The track record was 38.4, set by Cristin Walker the year before. I started, I raced, I hurt, and I broke it. With a time of 36.9, I came out on top and set the new Marymoor Velodrome women’s 500m track record. I was estatic. The 500 is by far one of my least favorite events, and I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would be setting any kind of track record in it. But I guess you just never know….

About an hour later, I paired up with Sarah Hammer and took on the 800m team sprint. I consider myself blessed to have her as a training partner in Colorado Springs a few days a week, but also, to be able to pair up with her for a team sprint….it’s not everyday you get a chance to do that with an Olympic and world champion. And once again, we broke another record. Chalk that up for two records in under three hours!

Team Sprint w/Sarah  (Photo by Kevin Mansker)
Team Sprint w/Sarah
(Photo by Kevin Mansker)

In the evening session, we had the 200m/match sprints. This would become the disappointment of the weekend for me. Choosing the wrong gear, misjudging speed, left me with a poor 200m time, and the record I wanted to break, unbroken. But, taking some notes, I am proud of what I accomplished during my rides. I rode around the whole track with my head turned, I took the mistakes I made in previous rounds, and corrected them in the next. I made mental notes, because when I come back next year, they won’t be happening again.

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Bronze Medal Final Ride
(Photo by Dennis Crane)

I look back on that first day, and I can’t believe that came out of my legs. I might not have gotten that $500 prize for breaking the 200 record, but I broke two other records, and watched Kevin demolish a keirin final. It was an amazing first day. But I was ready for my favorite event, the keirin.

After Friday’s long day (10am-11pm), Saturday seemed easy. Two rounds of keirin and a 20 lap scratch race. I made it through the first round of the keirin with ease. We had time to go back to our host house, relax, and then come back for the evening session. Kevin took on the match sprint rounds, and then we watched as Sarah Hammer demolished a record that had been standing for 25+ years in the 3k pursuit.

The greatest part about the Marymoor Grand Prix is the crowd. When I say that thousands of people showed up, I’m actually talking about an upwards of 2,000+ spectators there at once. Along the entire rail, down the back straight, into each corner…kids of all ages, grandparents…you name it. People are everywhere. And it’s the loudest, most supportive crowd I’ve ever raced in front of. Hearing them cheer for Sarah as she took on that record was incredible.

I drew the top two positions for both keirins. On a track that has an 8 person keirin final, that makes it hard to get the motor. But my starts have become strong, and having Kevin hold me securely, I had no problem getting the position that I wanted. I took the motor, and in my favorite race, I rode myself to win, for the second year in a row.

For some reason, the keirin calls to me. I love it. I love the chaos; I love hooks and contact. I had doubts. I knew other riders were strong, and I knew their tendencies and their tactics. I rode to the best of my ability, and the best that I knew how to do, and I ended up coming out on top.

Keirin
Keirin Final
(Photo by Amara Edwards)

Next up, and last of all was the scratch race. I entered this race, mostly because I didn’t have a sprint event afterward, but because it can end up going well for sprinters when it comes down to a group finish. There were 40 women who lined up for this event. There was even a wait list to get into it, in case anyone scratched. I need to give a huge round of applause to Dave Mann for what he has created the Marymoor Grand Prix into. This was only my second year attending, and because of his commitment to women’s cycling, he’s created these fields. With some many women racing, this race was absolutely incredible. I came up with a 4th place finish, after taking a flyer with one lap to go. I wanted to go for it, not caring about the end result, but putting on a show and seeing what my legs had left in them.

I’m sad to leave Seattle. As I sit on the plane flying home, I’m thinking about last summer, my first year, to what I’ve become in 12 months, I’m amazed. Things have changed, I have changed. I’ve turned into a sprinter, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

A lot has changed in 12 months
A lot has changed in 12 months

Thank you to my amazing sponsors, CNP Performance, Atomic High Performance, dz nuts, Rocktape, Tri Pacific, Specialized, USA Cycling, and the USOC for their support. I wouldn’t choose anyone else to ride with.

Until next year MGP. I will be back.

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