“Fastest Woman on Wheels”

Ahhhh, sprinter households. Only do they appreciate the constant need to lay around and do absolutely nothing. Fresh out of the US timed national championships, I was prepared to collect some much-needed UCI keirin points here in t-town, and that I did. The title of “fastest woman on wheels” is now donned upon me, but as part 1 of my collaborative US/Europe/Canada road trip, it hasn’t been as smooth as I anticipated.

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Catching my flight out of Denver, rolling up to the Southwest ticket counter, paying way too much for my bike and bag, and getting on the plane…easy enough. Landing in Atlanta, finding my gate, grabbing some food…all was going great. Then it came….a text to my phone approximately 20 minutes before take off (which also explains why NOTHING was happening when it should have been), “Your flight on Airtran has moved to gate F3″….the other side of the airport, in a different terminal. I trashed my food, grabbed my backpack, and started running. With my casco and road helmet flopping around behind me, loosely attached to the strap on my bag, I apologize now to all the people who I smacked running down escalators, catching the train, bolting from it, and then straight to the ticket counter, into my seat, and the plane door closed. The plane wasn’t full…but it was supposed to be, according to the flight staff, but we pulled out anyways. Philly-bound.

Had I thought about it then, I would have put two and two together, as I stood by the carousel in PHL, waiting and waiting and waiting for my green plaid bag and bike box to show up. A bag like that doesn’t roll by without you noticing it (which was the main purpose in getting such a bag). About 7 of us stood there, and when the carousel stopped moving, I knew it had happened. For the first time in my life, my bags didn’t show up. A sudden wave of panic flows through me. The woman at the ticket counter did not have the time of day to deal with our problems. I gave her the house number, and she asks me over and over again what a “bicycle traveling case” looks like. I am not quite sure how else to explain an oversized, black, box with the words “Thule” on it, as well as my name and phone number. So, with my information down and a quick, “We should have it to you by 8am tomorrow morning”, I walked to the curb, was picked up, and driven to the fabulous house of fellow US Elite National Champion, Matthew E. Baranoski.

Around 9:30 am, when I was woken by my phone vibrating obnoxiously loud against my laptop, AirTran called, confirming that my bags had arrived and I would have them by 3pm. Not exactly what I was told previously, but I took it and carried on with my day. It was now Thursday, and racing began Friday night, so I had no worries. I’m sure I walked around like a little lost lamb, trying to figure out how to a) not get in the way, b) try not to seem too lazy c) make myself useful. By the time 3pm rolled around, there was no sign of anything. I called airtran, no one answered. On the third try, a woman gave me the phone number of the delivery service to call, because they didn’t have my bags anymore…ok. Call the delivery service… “yes ma’am, you’ll have your bags by 5:30pm.” Well, that came and went too…nothing.

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To make this really long story shorter, at 8pm they showed up, with my disc hanging out of my half-open bike box, and the man who delivering it in a “pimped-out” white pickup truck, with “gangster-rap” pumping from his speakers. “Yo, Im here”, said a text on my phone. This is very positive. Thank you, Airtran.

So, I have my bike. Life is good. Friday morning I went to the track with Matt and his amazing mother. The track was S-L-O-W that morning. Sticky almost, the air was warming up, but the track was still cold. But, shaking it off, ignoring my SRM data, and enjoying riding my bike again, I hung around to watch the men’s flying 200m and first round of sprints. Then we went home, took a nap, ate some food, and got ready for the evening session.

Now for the racing: UCI Keirin, UCI Scratch, and Miss and out. I felt good. Regardless of how the morning went, right then was all that mattered. My legs were floating over the pedals nicely, and my jumps felt good. Again, not paying attention to my SRM, because as I’ve learned, numbers only mean so much, it comes down to the actual race, and who’s better on that day.

I went through the first round of the keirin easily. Coming down the home straight and looking back, I saw that I was in the clear for the next round, so I stopped pushing on the pedals and floated over the line easily. The keirin final was a little different, I ended up 3rd or 4th behind the motor, I never did look to find out. I stopped anything from moving up around me, and going into the bell lap, was sitting behind another rider, 2 wide, and just wanted to get out of there. I took the front position and hit it hard again down the back straight. I saw a rider on my hip and wanted to keep her there, and that I did, all the way to the finish line.

998574_10153104432055567_1588022866_nNext up was the scratch race. This was another UCI race, which meant that points were awarded for world cup qualifying. Obviously, this isn’t an event that I was shooting for, and honestly, a big part of me told myself, “why are you doing this? Just be done for the night and don’t inflict unnecessary pain upon yourself.” But I rode it anyways. It was pretty active, I guess a sprinter would say. People tried a lot of things, but they were always brought back. A rider was off the front for a while, but she was also brought back. The massive scratch across my disc is evidence of some uncontrolled riders and movement in the field, as wheels and riders were colliding, but thankfully no one went down. It came down to a bunch sprint by the last lap, and with 1/2 lap to go, I came over a field 4 riders wide to take the win. Not too shabby for myself!

The miss and out was about the same. I made it down to the final three riders, and with absolutely nothing left in my legs, I sat up coming down the home straight and let the other two have it. My sprinter legs had had enough.

And now, the t-town adventure is done. Having not been here since 2009, I was happy to be back. My brownies did their thing, my legs were good, and I got what I came for. Congratulations to all the women who came out and raced their asses off. Tomorrow I get to fly across the big pond for the very first time. I’m just a little excited about it.

Thanks t-town. Until we meet again.


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