Over the weekend, I participated in the Masters State Track Championships held at Hellyer Velodrome in San Jose, CA. Hellyer is a 335 meter cement track with 23 degree banking. I participated in 4 events and won 2 gold and 2 bronze medals in the 60 to 64 age group. The gold medals were in the team sprint and team pursuit (both were uncontested) and the bronze were in the 2K pursuit and the 500 meters. Each of those events had four competitors including me and they were all my friends from my racing club. Last year I won the 2K pursuit but this year, we had two guys age up who were much better than me who won the gold and the silver.
The most interesting race was the 2K pursuit which is 6 laps are around the track from a standing start. One racer starts of the back stretch and the other on the home stretch. Each chases the other around the track but are timed individually. I was placed against my friend, mentor and four time track world champion. He and I workout together each aweek and he has helped me a lot with my track racing. If I were to get a medal, I would have to beat him. However, it does not get much better than racing against your friends, hanging out together and hoping each other does really well.
When we lined up at the start, there was significant wind and cooler temperatures. I started on the back stretch with my friend on the home stretch. At the starting line I had so much adrenaline, I thought I would explode. My coach was positioned at the start of turn 3 to call out lap times. I said to myself, you can do this, you can win this. When the gun went off, I lunged forward and just about ripped the bike in half. As I go past my coach he is screaming breathe, dig. My plan was to stand past the judging stand and sit down going into turn one (about 250 meters of standing). When I sat down, I looked at the cadence and I was spinning 119 rpm going about 30+ mph (I used 88 gear inches). That is too fast so I started to soft pedal and bleed off some speed.
The key to a great 2K pursuit is a fast start and a controlled second lap to settle in followed by increasing speed to the finish. I backed off to 110 rpm and my coach screams 01 which meant I did a 30.1 second first lap which was a new PR for me. I cruise along for the second lap and begin to increase speed. At the finish of the second lap, I was even with my opponent in a dead heat. With each succeeding lap, I kept going faster knocking a few tenths of seconds off of my previous lap time. I was breathing hard but I felt nothing. I did not feel my legs, the wind or pain. I was so focused on power production and going just a little faster with each pedal revolution my mind blocked everything else out. I knew my friend has a fabulous finishing sprint since I watched him win at Worlds dropping the field in a scratch race. I came out of turn 2 to hear the bell for the last lap and punched it. I passed my coach at turn 3 with one to go at 112 rpm and accelerating. He was screaming dig, dig, dig and going completely nuts. I crossed the finish line at 30 mph and 117 rpm winning by .17 seconds in 2:47.7 a PR beating my best time from last year by 3.8 seconds. As I slow down, it all hits me as I am gasping for air and can barely keep the bike upright.
The race of my life... I was completely in the zone. It may never happen again but to have it just once was fantastic.
Here are some pics.
The standing start
My coach at turn 3 yelling out split times.
Here I am passing the timer on the back stretch going into turn 3
My friend and competitor
I am leading the team pursuit and there is a bike right behind me.
This is our team pursuit podium shot so we competed together and against each other.