Since I was not able to race the endurance championships, I figured I would race the sprint championships, even though I am not a sprinter. I also had personal issues which have kept me off the bike for a week, so I was going in with cold legs. I signed up for the Men Masters 40+ field and we had a total of five registered. Terrence Chioffi (TC) is from New Jersey, so being from out of state made him ineligible for the championship.
I set myself up on a 50×14 (96.4 gear inch) gearing. For short sprint events this has been serving me well. If I have to go more then three or four laps then I start fatiguing fast. The day started out cloudy, warm, with what felt like ninety percent humidity. The sun did come out by mid morning, reducing the humidity a bit, but sending the temperatures up into the nineties. A slow breeze helped a little bit, but even under the three tents in the infield, it was quite hot.
Race #1: Men Masters 40+: Flying 200m.
I rode my qualifier after the senior men, and the Masters 55+. Most of my field had also gone before me. I was hopeful to get a better time then the last time. I came into the final lap on a faster pace then last time. This would help me get on top of my gear quicker. I did not realize how bumpy the track is up top in turn three and four. In turn two I kept to the top, and as I exited and found my line, I got out of saddle and powered down the back stretch. The two hundred meter line came up fast. I hit it just right of the red sprinter line.
Entering turn three, I dropped into the sprinters lane for the added acceleration from that last bit of track drop. I held onto the bike for dear life as turn three and four are very bumpy, and with the disc wheel and tri-spoke front providing a stiffer ride, it is easy to get bumped out. In the end, I posted a time of 13.28 seconds, 0.08 seconds slower then my last time of 13.20. I was not happy with that, and I think that time put me at the bottom of the masters field.
Race # 2: 1 Kilometer Individual Time Trial.
I was the last person to get to the back of the track to race my Kilo. While waiting in line, Nick Gershberg crashed on his first lap coming out of turn four. Luckily he just scraped him self up and received some abrasions and bruises. This ended his day.
All lined up, and ready to go, as soon as the whistle blew, I induced another hernia in an attempt to get on top of the big gearing as fast as I could. About five pedal strokes in, it was getting easier. Now the hard part of riding fast for the remainder of the time trial.
I stayed out of saddle but in the transition from turn three to turn four I hit a bump which greatly unsettled the bike. Therefore, at this point, I decided to plant my ass down in the saddle. Considering that Nick crashed in this area, I did not want to be the next guy to go down.
Within in a short amount of time, I was in full tunnel vision. I could only see the one square foot of track ahead of me, enough to keep the bike going straight. The first lap and a half went by too quickly. As fatigue set in, I kept telling myself to keep pulling up on the pedals. Just like last time, arriving at turn three, the legs felt like that they were filled with lead. I kept it going as best as I could all the way to the line. I posted a time of 1:20.26, 2.27 seconds faster then my first and previous run. Unfortunately, everyone in my field except TC were using aerobars, and they all set much faster times then me.
Race # 3: Keirin Finals.
Due to the small field, we did not have to qualify for this or the next event. For the Keirin, I picked stick number one. This meant that I was the lead guy behind the scooter, or derny. This is not the most enviable place to be. Usually third or so is a good spot.
Once the scooter pulled off after two laps of ramping us up to about twenty seven miles an hour, I looked back and the whole field was planted on my wheel. I pulled up track, and they followed. As we entered turn two, the pack finally started to shift around.
I tried to shadow Jason Baker and specifically block Yves Allemann in. Yves has a good sprint on him. Coming onto the front straight going into the bell lap, TC attacked from just behind me. I was a bit slow at reacting, and thus, I got dropped from the rest of the field. Try as I might, I could not close the gap for the rest of the race, and finished fifth.
Here is a video from Matt Recchia of the embarrassing race:
Race # 4: Match Sprint 1/2 Finals.
I was paired up with TC, and Jason. If I recall, I drew lot number two. Right off the rail, and exiting turn 2, Jason kept picking up the pace. I was taken by surprise since all my other match sprints have been games of cat and mouse. TC reacted quicker and was able to bridge up and then eventually beat Jason to the line. I, realizing I was not having a good day, backed off. I could still contend for third place at this point, no sense in blowing myself up for nothing.
Match Sprint 3rd Place Finals.
In this final race, it was a showdown between Jason, and William Aligue, and myself for third place in the Match Sprint. TC and Yves were set to duke it out for first and second place. This time, Jason did not pull the same move. However, I stayed on his wheel, just up track from him. He kept glancing back and I kept stalking him, ready to go. William was an unknown variable to me. I hear he has a good sprint so I could not discount him. Exiting turn four going into the bell lap, Jason made his jump down the embankment. This time I was ready, and I followed him. I stayed on his wheel, just up track from him. I lost sight of William.
Going into turn three, I knew I could take Jason. Even though I would have to ride a greater distance being up track from Jason, the extra speed it would give me coming onto the straight was worth it. Exiting turn four, I passed Jason. I gritted my teeth and put it all down to stay ahead. Finally I raced the perfect race. Although I got a third place finish in the Match Sprint, the damage was done, and I still finished fifth overall.
Congratulations to TC for winning the day, and Yves for winning the State Championship.
A big thank you to Alan Atwood, Jim Lyman, Robert Marcus, the EMTs, David Harrison for driving the scooter, and Kenji Edmonds for being the holder in the Kilo and 500m TT, who all braved the heat to allow us all to race. Also a big thank you to my competitors, and friends. Racing bicycles is a blast, and with out all of you I would not be able to race.