U.S. Track Nationals 2008 - Oct. 1-5, 2008 @ ADT event center, Carson, CA
I have separated into Chapters for reader convenience…it’s going to be long so you may want to choose what you read…
Chapter 1 – Out to California
Thanks to our amazing sponsor and team owner Phil, we were able to go out to California early this year for some training before track nationals. Thanks so much for all your support and time Phil. Gary, Theresa, Jessie and I left Michigan on Sept. 17 and checked into an extended stay where were would be based for the following 3 weeks. We got to the track for some training and went on a few beach/coffee shop recovery rides!
Chapter 2 – Swing over to Vegas
There just so happens to be this huge bike show called Interbike that takes place every year around this time in Vegas. I have been hearing all about this show for the past few years, how cool it is, etc. So I was excited to check it out but knew I had to keep it kinda chill because number 1 I was racing the crit there and more importantly number 2 I had track nationals the next week and for those of who who aren’t cyclist let me just say that walking around on your feet for 3 days straight at a show a week before competition is kinda a big no-no. Gary, Jessie and I left CA in the Golden Goose (our huge rented van) headed for Vegas on the 23rd. (Theresa stayed back to continue training on the track). Interbike was overwhelming a bit but very cool non the less. We remained in Vegas until the 26th and Jess and I raced in the crit on the 25th.
Chapter 3 – More team!
Phil had joined us in Vegas for Interbike and came back to CA to be around for all the nationals’ events! My other teammate Liz Reap Carlson also flew in to CA around this time and she joined Jess and I in our Extended Stay Suite. Thank goodness Theresa and Gary stored some of our bike boxes because we were pretty packed in with us 3 girls, 6 bikes, numerous sets of wheels, and all the food it takes to keep 3 cyclist satisfied!
Chapter 4 – Races
4.1 – Mass Start Test
So this really isn’t a race but rather a time standard that can be used to determine where a rider is along a certain line of fitness. There are certain time cuts for the amount of time it takes the rider to ride the first 500m and then to continue on and complete a total of 2k. I was using the test as a baseline, because I have not trained for it, which in my case meant the chances of actually making the times was slim. I did not make the time but I have my base point and it was time to put it behind me and focus on the race to come…the fun ones where I get to race with other people!
4.2 – Keirin
I had to debate over weather or not to even enter this event. I have a certain love for the Keirin and I think it is a super fun race but it was lined up in the schedule to be at the beginning of the session and then just a while after it would be time for the scratch race final. However, after speaking with my coach we decided if I wanted to do the Keirin that I should and it would serve as a good warm up for the scratch and hopefully not take too much out of me. Liz and I were both entered in the race but never ended up racing each other after Liz was ultimately relegated due to a few questionable calls. I should mention for those that don’t know a Keirin is an 8 lap race…the first 5.5laps are done behind a motor that steadily increases the speed and then the motor pulls off with 2.5laps to go and leaves the riders at high speeds to sprit each other to the line!
4.2.1 – round 1
I’m in the 3rd heat with 4 other girls. We jump off the line and start to slot in
behind the motor. I’m in position for 4th wheel but there is another rider who hasn’t claimed a spot in line and apparently wasn’t happy with being last wheel behind me. Rather than easily slotting in behind me she attempts to intimidate me out of my spot in line…hehe…yeah you can probably imagine how well that went over! I held my ground and stuck on the wheel in front of me…if there is one thing I was taught from the start and I know how to do, it is hang onto a wheel, so she picked the wrong chick to mess with. I have to give her credit cause she was all over it, she had her arm hitting mine and the whole bit! A Keirin is expected to have some contact but there are rules and this girl got a warning for bumping and coming into my lane. After she ignored the warning and I continued to let her know she was not about to move me, they double fired the gun, which means they were stopping the race. The rider was relegated out of the round and we restarted. Unfortunately, I got 3rd in the heat and only the top 2 went straight to the 2nd round, so now I was going to have to ride the repacharge round to get into the 2nd round.
4.2.2 – repacharge round
Go figure the same girl that wanted to tango with me before is in my rep round. Once again everyone off the line and fighting for a spot behind the motor. I want a certain spot and when I want it I usually find a way to get it. Everyone was still kinda jockeying for position and it just so happened that the spot I wanted was right in front of the girl I have been referring to. I put myself there right away with my handlebars far in front of hers and by bike and body now on the lowest portion of the track. Had she been wise she would have just accepted that I was in front of her and also recognized that it wasn’t such a bad wheel to be on and all she needed to do was play off of me…but once again she failed to see such an opportunity. Instead I guess she was going to try and show me what was up or something, I’m not really sure because I was in front of her and minding my own business by this point but next thing I know something hits my lower foot and someone wrecks out onto the apron. My guess is that she tried to come under me and in the process got too close, hit her bars on my foot, got nervous and thrown off and then just wrecked. A little more skill to go with her tenacity and she could probably be a pretty good Keirin rider. Once again I have to give her credit and I went to shake her hand after the races and tell her good job. She wasn’t too happy to see me but what can I say…it is racing…leave it on the track. Oh, and I got into round 2!
4.2.3 – Round 2
Nothing too exciting happened that I can recall. Top 3 go to final, I got top 3 so I advanced.
4.2.4 – Keirin Final
I wanted to go early but I didn’t go early enough and apparently the gear I was on was far to small for me in this event on this given day. I was completely spun out and there was just no way I was going to be able to get around the girls in front of me. I ended up getting 4th, but I learned a lot and have new knowledge for next time!
4.3 – Scratch Race
I hung out toward the front of the pack for most of the race and tried to monitor things, watching for anything I felt was a dangerous attack. There were some attacks and at one point I felt like maybe I was going with a few too many of them. In a bike race it is important to pick and choose what you try to make happen or what you commit to going with. That is all part of the game and sometimes you make the right move and other times you make every move and then you’re too tired when the right one comes along. There is a very fine and delicate balance. As I mentioned at one point in this race I literally said to myself, “stop chasing everything, recover, or nothing will matter because you won’t have the energy to finish”. I had been sitting in for a few laps and it was toward the end of our race when Alison Powers initiated another attack, she had been part of a few others, and this time Shelley Olds went along. I hesitated for a split second and then decided I better get on that. All at once we went by the lap cards reading 3laps to go, I looked behind and we had a gap, and Alison pulled off and drifted back. Shelley hit the gas and I stayed tight on her wheel…I was later told her coach referred to be as a bull dog, I just got on the wheel and wouldn’t let go. We were keeping out gap on the field and now only had a few laps to go. As it turns out I should have made a move sooner than I did because I was unable to come around Shelley in the last ¾ lap of the race. Trying something sooner may or may not have worked but I think it may have given me a better chance. It was a good race to the line and both Shelley and I had shaking arms from the effort but she beat me by a bit. So I had to take it as a good race and be happy with my silver medal for second. Theresa came in with the pack just seconds behind Shelly and I and she took 3rd in that sprint for 5th overall.
4.4 – Sprints
No I didn’t race the sprints too this year but I wanted to throw a quick word in for Liz! She raced well and turned out 2nd in the sprints, representing Verducci well! Cari Higgins pulled off the win and a congratulations goes to her as well! Then this screaming fast duo of Liz and Cari raced the team sprint the next day and surprise surprise sprinted their way to the gold! Great job ladies!
4.5 – Points Race!
So this is kind of the event of events. It is one of the longer endurance events on the track, strategically it is challenging and difficult, you have to perform well over the entire race to win and it is of course an Olympic Event, which has a great deal to due with it being one of my favorites! I also have a passion for the Madison, which unfortunately I have not recently raced, but typically the Madison is a male dominated even and is not offered to women at the Olympic level. Anyhow for anyone who doesn’t know a points race is a certain number of laps but there are also sprints on certain laps within the race and you earn points in those sprints. At the end of the race the points are tallied to determine a winner. Points are many times doubled for the final sprint and there are point bonuses awarded to anyone who laps the field. In the particular points race we were racing for 25k, which means we raced 100 laps with a sprint every 10. So, the race is under way and I’m trying not to get too excited too early in the race, as I many time do and then burn too many matches too early. I think I sat on for the first sprint, then won the second one and got a few points in a few after that I guess. I was starting to feel my legs and thinking, you’ve done it again kacey…too much too early. Theresa got away with Alison Powers and another rider and I was happy to stay behind and try to slow things down so hopefully she could gain a lap. I certainly didn’t have the legs at the moment to be doing much of anything so I was helping us both by keeping it a slow pace for me and making it possible for the others to lap in less time than if the pack was moving faster. They got the lap and I settled back into the pack to draft. During an acceleration a rider cut down track before she was really clear of me and forced me down track, which ran me into another rider and that rider lost control and crashed onto the apron. I soon heard the clicking of a broken spoke on my fork and looked down to find my front wheel in a full on wobble, so I backed off the power and came down onto the apron signaling Phil to get a front spare ready…which he did super fast in full on pro form! They ended up neutralizing the race and restarting it. At this point I was sitting 7th or 8th place I believe but the sound system is hard to hear so I’m not sure. I should not admit this, nor should I have thought it but I had basically thrown in the towel on a win, and I say that because my legs felt tired and distant and there were 3 riders who had already lapped the field, and chances of more lapping the field seemed slim…but it is a bike race and I should always remember that anything can happen. The race is restarted with 46laps to go and we are back at it. The race had quite a bit of oscillation to it and there was a lot of speed variation within it. I suppose there were about 20laps to go when things slowed up quite a bit and 3 riders kind of just drifted off the front. I distinctly remember being at the back of the pack and trapped up against the rail because I was thinking – “what are they doing, why are they letting them go, I want this to stay together, gosh I have got to get out of this horrible position I’m in!” I spent the next few seconds backpedaling and navigating along the top of the steepest part of the banking on the track and then dove down under the lingering pack of riders who had all seemed to slow drastically and drift up track. The idea was to put some pedal power down and get the pack back together, but apparently everyone was enjoying the view of the now 4 riders in front of them (I had now joined the 3 who had drifted off the front). I felt like I was just riding along and then next thing I know I’m looking back to see where the pack is and they are a ½ lap down on us. At that point we started taking ½ lap pulls and were still gaining a little on the pack. The sprint lap came around and I attacked the other 3 to take the sprint, then dropped back in line behind them. There must have been about 7 or 8 laps to go when we were ¼ lap or less away from catching the pack. I heard Colby yell from the infield “Kacey, you have to lap them now!” and that somehow gave me the extra bit of kick I needed to fill the gap. I jumped out of my place in our little pace line and just drilled it to the back of the pack, not so much for any particular strategy but rather because it was the only way I could make it happen. I then spent a few laps dangling on the last wheel just trying to hang onto the accelerations coming from the front of the pack. Because I had previously thrown in the towel on the race I didn’t have point tally’s or any calculations in my head as I usually would in a points race, but I figured now with the lap I should be top 5 and for sure have the U23 title. I didn’t advance much for the final sprint, I was still trying to recover and hang on from my effort and then it was all finally over and my body could stop. I dropped down onto the apron and slowed my pedal strokes down, trying to relax and wondering what had happened. Then I heard the speaker system, which as I mentioned was not so good and I was not so sure I had heard it right because the noise had sounded like an indication that I had WON the race!?!?! Really!!! I was in disbelieve and then very excited all at once. My last race as a U23 and to take away both the U23 and Elite Title was not something that I thought was impossible going into the race, but at some point during the race I had thought it not possible and now for it to be true was a bit surreal. Goes to show anything can happen in a bike race, anything is possible and if you work hard and keep putting yourself in the right positions it will pay off eventually!
Phewwww….thanks for reading if you made it this far!...your a trooper!