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Old 09-10-17, 11:42 PM   #5301
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I see she knows the tradition of biting the Gold to see if it's real!

Way to go, HP!! A win is a win. You did it....
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Old 09-10-17, 11:47 PM   #5302
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Athlete: Sara
Dates: September 9 and 10, 2017
Race: NCNCA Masters Track Districts
Venue: Hellyer Park Velodrome, San Jose, CA. 335 meter concrete surface.
Events: Flying 200; Match Sprints; Time Trial (500M); Pursuit (2k); Team Sprint
Weather: Breezy and humid on Saturday, Light winds and hot on Sunday

This was the 2017 edition of the NCNCA Masters Track District races held at Hellyer Park Velodrome. The five events I entered were to be the last events I'd race on the track until the UCI Masters Worlds coming up in October. Save for the Scratch Race, all were either sprint events or time trials, exactly the events I'd be racing at UCI Worlds. I intended the races to be a fitness check, gut check, and equipment check going into the home stretch for Worlds. Because this has been my first season of competition on the track, I've lagged behind a bit in some of the nuance associated with track competition. It's been a steep learning curve, and it has been real test of my fitness and my ability to physically withstand the very strenuous efforts that are track sprinting.

Districts were held over two days. On the first day, Saturday, the seeding sprint for the match sprints, the Flying 200 was held first, followed by the match sprints themselves. After a midday break, the mass start races were held. Sunday was TT day, starting with the Time Trial (500M), then Pursuits (2K for the women), Team Pursuits, and lastly the Team Sprint.

Saturday, September 9th

I'm a little anal about being early to events, and true to form I was early to Hellyer Park for the first day of racing. I had extra gear with me, along with a road bike to use as a warm up and warm down bike on the trainer. I also brought my rollers in case I decided I was brave enough to actually ride them in front of other people (I left them in the car!). After check in, visits, personal matters, and a bike check over, I got on the banking for a warm up ride. The weather was overcast and and cool, comfortable, with no wind. I was not feeling my best, though. My back had been troubling me again, but I hoped the warm up would help me push past that and perhaps loosen my back up a bit.

After warming on the track, I reconfigured the bike for "sprint race trim". I put bigger gears on it, my race wheels (five spoke front, disk rear), and checked it over to be sure it was ready.

The days events and the order of them was announced.

Flying 200

The women, all five of us, were first up for the Flying 200. I was fourth rider off of the five. As luck would have it, the overcast burned off just prior to the start of the race, and a light, but swirling, wind picked up . We started on the front straight, and were to do three laps, the last of the three was a timed maximal sprint from the 200 meter line to the start finish. When my turn came, I took the track and started my windup. On the lap two, I was at the the top of the track at the rail, a tiny bit concerned, because I was feeling some lactic in my legs. Hellyer is not hard to do a windup for a flying 200 on, because the banking is not steep and it's pretty easy to save energy for the sprint itself. I disregarded the lactic, ramped up my pace going into to turn one for the dive off of turn two and the start of the effort. I came off the saddle and accelerated hard as I could towards the 200 meter line and angled down track to the sprinters lane at the entrance of turn three. I felt choppy, not smooth, and I didn't stay off the saddle as long as I planned to. I didn't feel as if I was on top of the gear, either, and I was pushing to get my cadence up. As I entered turn four, a gust of wind hit me from my left front side, and I was almost pushed out of the sprinters lane. I got the bike back down in the lane and dug deep as I could for the line.

I succeeded in turning in the slowest measured 200 I'd done to date, a little more than a half second off of my PB.

Match Sprints:

First ride:

Match sprints are a two lap (on a 333 meter track) best of three rides duel on bicycles. They're raced in a heat format, with the rider winning the first round advancing to the next round and perhaps finals. They usually include two riders, but sometimes three. There were only five women in the event, so the RD decided that our first round would be the final. Normally, the rider with the slowest time in the seeding sprint rides against the rider with the best time. My good friend Barb and I were matched against each other by virtue of our age grading. A drawing is held prior to the first duel to decide who leads first. I won the draw and would be leading Barb in the first match. The rules say that the lead rider is obligated to lead the first half lap at a "walking pace". For the last lap, the riders have to "engage the sprint", go for it. I had a plan to deal with Barb, who has a bit more top end speed and a better jump than I do. I was going to try to keep her high on the track, crowd her, and watch for her "tell" to anticipate her jump. I led her around the track at a slow pace for the first lap, and although I never lost sight of her, I did not get her as high on the track as I wanted to, and I was never close enough to her to be able to control her. On the back straight, she simply rode over the top of me, and my sluggish legs couldn't match her acceleration. Coming out of turn four, she had more than five lengths on me, and I was not going to catch her, so I sat up to conserve some energy for the next match.

Barb, 1, Sara, 0.

Second Ride:

I discussed the first ride with Coach, and he helped me devise a plan for the second ride, in which Barb would be the lead rider. She could control me from the front, and because she had better speed and acceleration, Coach suggested that I stay close to her, and when she ramped her pace, to be right on her wheel, staying in her draft. I should use that draft to allow me to accelerate and then jump over her coming our of the last corner on the last lap. Barb and I rolled at the whistle, and things went according to plan until the last turn. I made two tactical errors, one of them grave. The lessor the the two was that I didn't drop back from her wheel and then "rush the gap". I stayed tight on her wheel and tried to go over her on her right in the turn. The big error was that I didn't know where I was in the turn and I left too early and went way too high in the turn. As soon as I hit the wind, my forward momentum stopped, and Barb held a bike length (or more) gap on me all the way the line. I hit the line at 32 MPH, she hit it at 34 MPH.

Barb 2, Sara 0. Barb won the gold medal. I received the silver.

I decided to NOT to do the scratch race that afternoon, because the field was small and with the level of talent in it, I'd be burning precious energy in a struggle to stay attached. No, not worth it. I had my best races coming up on Sunday, and I needed to save energy for those efforts.

Sunday September 10th

Once again, I arrived early, but for this day, I brought less "stuff", I left the road bike at home, along with the rollers. I did bring a big cooler with me, so I could use it to keep my helmet and gloves cool between events, because the weather forecast pointed to the day becoming hot.

I checked in, glued on my number, and readied for an on the track warm up. I did an abbreviated warm up, ten laps, with one stronger effort at the end. My legs felt okay, the good thing was my back had no discomfort at all. Whew... I then configured the bike for the TT events that would be the focus of my day. Aerobars, five spoke front wheel and disk on the back, along with my "newbie" 48/15 (85 inch) gearing. Cadence is my friend! I was dressed in my Pen Velo skin suit, I had shoe covers on (allowed on outdoor velodromes). and I was wearing my Giro Aerohead helmet and sprint gloves.

The RD announced the race order, and then the rider order in each event. The women were to go first in the first event, the Time Trial.

Time Trial

The Time Trial is a 500 meter in length, standing start, maximal effort sprint. At Hellyer, one and one half laps are ridden. The start was on the back straight, the finish at the finish line on the front straight. Hellyer has no start gate, so the starts would be facilitated by a holder. I was fourth or fifth to start, I don't quite remember. As I waited my turn, I focused on the countdown clock, visualizing the start. Two - up, one - back, tone - GO!! I also "breathed up", to pack some extra O2 into my system. I'd need it!

When my turn came, I gave my bike to the holder, making sure he had my pedal position right, and then I walked up track above the bike, and climbed aboard once it was positioned and the holder was ready for me. I clipped in, grasped the bullhorns, focused on the turn ahead, my aiming point, and signaled that I was ready. The clock started at ten seconds to go with a tone. At five, the countdown tones started. Two, up, one, back, loud tone - UP! UP! UP! I felt my first pedal stroke was a little soft so I really mashed the second one. Things then started moving as I expected. Halfway through the turn, just into turn three, I took the saddle, settled momentarily and then went to the sticks. My cadence was still climbing. As I crossed the start finish for the first time I was aware that I was on top of the gear and that I was still accelerating. Out of turn one, I felt good, felt fast. I crossed the back straight start line, and it was just a blur. I entered turn three, and I as I made way through it I felt my energy suddenly go, and my effort flatten out. I had used up my ATP. I hung on and dug from that point on to the start finish line, trying hard not to loose the precious speed I'd built up. I was suffering terribly, but through that pain fog I was aware that I was having a good ride. I hit the line pushing as hard as I could possibly muster, holding the effort until I was sure I was past the line.

When I was in the cool down circle, a friend came over and told me my time. It was good! Coach was warming up in front of me in the the circle and I yelled (or croaked) my time to him. I got a big thumbs up, a look over his shoulder with a big smile, and I was pleased to see he was pleased! I was almost a half second faster than my previous PB.

Pursuit

The Pursuit is a 2 kilometer effort for the women. It's too long a ride for an all out sprint, but it's not quite an endurance event, either. It is one of those borderline races for me, one that requires a good endurance motor, but a sprinter can do okay in it if it's paced properly. On Hellyer, it is a six lap sufferfest.

The start was on the front straight, and like the Time Trial, it was a held standing start. I went through the same motions as I did in the TT, and once aboard the bike, I awaited the countdown while focusing, again, on the line into the first turn. For me, the 2K is all about the start. Go too hard, and you risk blowing up. Go too easy, and you never settle into a pace, your splits are awful, and you end up not using all your available energy. At the tone, I went off, making the first five pedal strokes as hard as I did in the TT. Then I eased up, built some more speed while off the saddle, and then took the saddle and settled on to the sticks. Coach was calling my splits. I was varying a little each lap, but my pace was pretty even overall. I was staying low on the track, on the pole line, concentrating on riding as clean a line as I could. On the bell lap, Coach was hollering "DIG! DIG! DIG!" as I went by him, and that's exactly what I was doing. I had a little left in the tank, and I was determined to empty it before the finish line. I hit the line in a semi aware haze, and through that oxygen deprived level of consciousness, I had the feeling that I had ridden a decent 2K.

I had. It was slightly faster, on a slower track, than my PB, which was set at Velo Sports Center.

My friend met me at the warm down circle once again and asked me how the ride felt. "It felt like a 2K!" was my response through a big smile! Coach met me also, poured water over me to cool me off, and told me my time and how pleased he was with my ride. Things I liked hearing!

Team Sprint

Barb and I would be riding the Team Sprint as a team, Team Heart and Soul. We decided I'd be second rider. The Team Sprint is a two rider event, where the riders are started side by side from a standing start. The first rider leads for one lap, and then pulls off, and the second rider rides the second lap, and the time is taken when that rider's front wheel hits the start finish line. At Hellyer, the distance the second rider covers is 670 meters. The key is to stay on the wheel of the first rider, get a good exchange, and then ride as hard as possible for the second lap. Barb and I had only practiced the Team Sprint four times, and I was second rider for the full distance in practice only once.

We were not aware that there was not going to be a break between the morning's events and the Team Sprint. The RD took us right into the event with little warning. Barb and I rushed to get ready and to get to the line. I can't be rushed into a start, my concentration suffers and the likelihood of an error goes way up. Sure enough, when the tone went and we rolled, my bike turned up track on the first pedal stroke, and I damn near did a track stand before I got it pointed back towards turn one and moving again. That mistake disrupted my rhythm and Barb's, because I was calling to her to "DOWN!" (slow down) so I could get on her wheel. When we came to the exchange box at the start line, I was NOT on her wheel as I should have been, but about a bike length back. I tried to make up for the errors by ripping off a hard second lap, really smashing it to salvage some time. Still, we had lost probably five seconds due to my screwups, which meant that what turned out to be a decent time would likely have been a really good time.

It was in the books, and we both learned from it.

I ended up winning three events over the weekend, which earned three gold medals and three Bear Jerseys. I had some pitfalls, but they were wins, too, in that I learned a great deal from them,

I'm anxious to get to Worlds!

Thanks for reading!!
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Old 09-11-17, 02:03 AM   #5303
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Dang, even when these girls screw up, they win. Great racing, ladies!
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Old 09-11-17, 08:26 AM   #5304
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Dang, even when these girls screw up, they win. Great racing, ladies!
Sometimes the chips fall in our favor, right? Thanks, Chuck!
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Old 09-11-17, 10:30 AM   #5305
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Sweet on the jerseys, @sarals!
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Old 09-11-17, 09:47 PM   #5306
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Thanks, @Heathpack!
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Old 09-12-17, 08:31 AM   #5307
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Congrats Sara and Heathpack
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Old 09-12-17, 08:47 AM   #5308
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I raced LAVRA at Velo Sports Center Sunday 500. 15 out of 30: all competitors.

On a not great note, the timing equipment failed. We did not have electronic timing and automatic gate operation. VSC is actively procuring a new timing control box and hopefully, there is one in stock.
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Old 09-12-17, 01:45 PM   #5309
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Congrats everyone. Very cool to watch Sara in action Sunday.

My results:

TP: 2nd
500: 5th
2k: DNS
Points Race: 3rd
Scratch Race: DNF (did help my teammate win the jersey though).

Never felt good all weekend. Tough week prior, vacation turned into "where is a place where things aren't burning" adventure. Hopefully right this ship.
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Old 09-12-17, 08:50 PM   #5310
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@Racer Ex, crazy week for you leading in to your racing, hard to find your edge when you were supposed to be coming off a week of relaxing & honing the edge.

Congrats on the good parts though! A couple of podiums at States in California the year that Worlds are in California and everyone's ramping up? Not half bad, given the circumstance!
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Old 09-13-17, 09:54 AM   #5311
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@Racer Ex, I cannot THANK YOU enough for all of the help you gave me over the weekend. You made me keep my head screwed on and you inspired me to give 150% to each of those rides. And then there is the fact that you are my coach and I'd still be an OTB surgey nothing if you hadn't torn me down and rebuilt me, and then steered me in the directions I needed to be going. I am completely and totally indebted and so proud to know you and have you coaching me.

@Hermes, thank you! It was a great weekend, indeed.

And lets hope VSC has the timing system going by October 8th!
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Old 09-13-17, 11:33 AM   #5312
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Congrats everyone. Very cool to watch Sara in action Sunday.

My results:

TP: 2nd
500: 5th
2k: DNS
Points Race: 3rd
Scratch Race: DNF (did help my teammate win the jersey though).

Never felt good all weekend. Tough week prior, vacation turned into "where is a place where things aren't burning" adventure. Hopefully right this ship.
You will bounce back at worlds.

I wondered who won TP. Metcalfe, Nolan and Langley. Oh well.
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Old 09-13-17, 11:36 AM   #5313
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You will bounce back at worlds.

I wondered who won TP. Metcalfe, Nolan and Langley. Oh well.
We hope so. My back has been an issue the last month or so, and that we weren't very close on the TP is on me. I rode like poop.
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Old 09-17-17, 12:21 PM   #5314
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@sarals, I am never sure hwere it is best to respond to or like you race reports. Regardless, sounds like you're ramping up well for Worlds.
@Racer Ex, given your "bounce back" results this year, you're well positioned for Worlds.
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Old 09-18-17, 10:35 AM   #5315
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@Cleave, I do get wordy, don't I? I'm testing my memory. Yes, the Worlds rampup has gone well. It's now frozen. and what will be will be.
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