What a weekend. It still feels like I'm winding down from it!
As mentioned, Christine and I arrive on Friday and checked out the track that night. We woke up Saturday, had a nice breakfast and lunch then started racing around 6:30. First up - the women's standing 250 tt. Karen aka Kenny's Gal (they had no information on her at the start) was up first - putting up the third fastest time of the night! I rolled in at 7th out of 16 ladies. Little did I know how this would help me in the long run for the handicap races the following day.
Next up - a one mile scratch race heat, with top 4 qualifying for the final. Nothing fancy - and only 6 laps. I made the finals.
Then one of my favorites - or what has become my specialty - the Miss and Out. I like to sit in the front, out of harms way and just accelerate enough to use as little energy as possible. We whittled down to a field of three, Cari, Annette and I. On the bell lap, Annette was leading just outside the sprinters lane. Cari and I both dove for the sprinters lane at the same time and she won, pushing me onto the apron. Annette then moved down into the sprinters lane, and I accelerated to avoid a crash. Then I was relegated. A tough call - but justified. Luckily I didn't get DQ'd - just pushed back to 3rd.
I came back with a vengeance in the Keirin qualifier and won it. For those who know me - Keirins are not my type of race. I have been relegated more often than not. And to pick the pole position, get on the motor, win the race and advance to finals? Shocking. Apparently I ate my Wheaties that morning!
Back to the 1 mile sprint finals - I delicately wove through traffic, made the move and cruised in 2nd. Same with the Keirin! I couldn't believe it. That one little race behind a motorcycle has given me more confidence than the entire weekend!
Lastly we had a 10k Points race. My gear felt small for my inflated legs and I had lame placements and position. My head wasn't in the right place - probably still in shock from the Keirin. :)
That night we went to bed waaaayyyy too late - thinking about the racing, chatting with our new friends and anxious about the next day's racing.
Sunday started with Handicap heats based off our 250m TT's. I had a sweet spot and qualified for the finals. It was followed by another Miss and Out - and I placed 2nd again. Collen, this amazing Junior National Champion won it with her sprint skills. That's the only downfall of my method of riding the Miss N Out - it makes you work! Thank goodness for all of those Golden Gardens sprint intervals!
We also had two lap Chariot heats - and I made the finals again. For both the Handicap and Chariot, I put my head in a wrong spot, telling myself I would be perfectly happy with 5th place for a point in the omnium. And guess what? That's all I achieved. Funny how your mind can be your greatest limiter.
We were signed up for the Team Pursuit - but opted out to save it for the 12k Scratch race final, our longest race for the weekend. The Miss and Out opened my legs up and I was starting to feel better and better as the night wore on. I remember lining up at the rail, having tranquil thoughts and an inner stillness and focus that happens only once in a while.
We did a neutral roll out, the gun went up and off we were racing. It was more aggressive than other races, often stringing out the pack as we chased and countered each move. I recall talking out loud when moves would go, and tell people to move left or right to better their position. I was in a move at one point with Clare and Annette, thinking it would stick but the Dahlmann sister's reeled us back in. Around and around we went and the laps counted down. With 5 to go, the two sisters came to the front and I seeded in right behind them. I knew I was in the zone and in perfect position. The first sister ramped up the speed to 27, peeling off with 3 laps to go. The second sister kept the speed going standing up with 1 1/2 laps go. We rounded corner 4, I stood up, put the rockets on and gave it every bit of energy I had left to the finish line. I kept thinking my brother was chasing, my brother is chasing, he's going to catch me! Faster, FASTer, FASTER!!!!! And then I was sailing over the finish line, out of harms way and chills ran all over my body. Success! And what a note to end on! I was on cloud nine the rest of the night.
Ended up 3rd in the omnium and we went out with Gwen, Andy, Val, Josh, Dan, Adrian, Steph, Tara and Brian to celebrate at Psycho Suzi's followed by late night hardcore bowling in Minneapolis. Fun times! But those Belgium beers on an empty stomach did a number on me and I was HUNG OVER until I snoozed on the flight home.
As with every track race, you meet new people and get to know the wonderful characters in cycling. We all love what we're doing and it shows. Two weeks and then down to the AVC.... yay!