Monday, May 28, 2012

Hellyer Velodrome Challenge Qualifier #4

This was a qualifying event for the big race of the year, the Hellyer Velodrome Challenge. We expect some heavy hitters to show up gunning for the massive $10,000 cash prize. I may not even do this race, though: Baby and stay-at-home wife means working dad can't take the chance of a tumble in a keirin or miss-and-out, so it's time trials and sprints only for the foreseeable future. I do miss the special thrill of the last lap of a keirin!

                                A couple of shots of the A-group keirin action.

So the only reason I came down was for the team sprint, for which I was to be first man. Does it seem crazy to rent a car and spend the whole day at the track for a single effort that would last less than 30 seconds? Don't answer that... .

 But when I arrived I found that my arranged second man was out. Criterium the day before apparently sapped him too much. But my third man, budding road-to-track convert Nick Oliver (who'd smoked me in the sprints in his first ever track race), was ready to rock. Nick's buddy Jeff, a fellow roadie, volunteered for the empty spot in the squad.

Unfortunately, we didn't have time to do a run-through. But given Nick's obvious strength I wasn't too worried. As first man I simply had to start us off well, drop Nick off at a decent speed and get out of the way. One lap. Then Nick was to ramp it up during his lap and let Jeff hold onto the speed we'd created and bring it home. Easy!

Of course, you know it wasn't like that. Here's our start, not too bad, but I do have a little bit of a gap already. I found out afterwards that Jeff came out of one pedal, and I guess having never done a standing start before, Nick was totally unprepared for how hard I would come off the line. It looks so easy on TV... .

Me, oblivious in full flight. Having actually fluffed my second stroke, in my mind I'm struggling to stay ahead of Nick who I imagine is just about to run me over... .

And on the back straight the ridiculousness of it all is plain to see. I'm still going like hell while Nick has never caught on and has to do two laps in the wind. I pull up and have to do a double-take-- where are you guys?? They were still in the turn as I finished my lap. Oops.

Well, that didn't really work out that well, but what the hell. Had a great day hanging out at the track watching races, and did one maximal effort that got timed. It was a 25.8 second lap, which considering my botched start isn't too bad. Something to work on.

Henry and Tomo had a great time too, and on the way home we finally got to try a ramen restaurant in San Jose we'd been hearing about for a while. Best ramen I've had stateside!   All in all, what I'd call a successful day at the track. Thanks to Nick and Jeff for riding with me. Next time we'll get it!