So back to Friday night. I've never seen a keirin like this before. It was absolutely amazing. Almost everyone I talked to was picking Chiappa for the win in the finals, but it was Bailey who came up big. He had to advance through the reps to get there, but that apparently took nothing out of him, as he put on a veritable clinic on how to rock a world class field. Sure, having two teammates with you in the final will help, but he pulled this ride out all on his own. I stood on the bridge over the finish line and watched the race heat up in the final 2 laps, waiting for the Italian to launch his move. When he did, late as it was (that was his style on Friday) it was too little, and too late. Even if he had gone 50 meters earlier, I don't think he could have come around Bailey and Co. Those Aussies can fly. Once again, amazing.
I had felt awful during warm-ups, but my legs came to life in the scratch race, even allowing me to throw in a few attacks and work to cover a couple moves. Admittedly starstruck, I had a fun realization at one point that I was rotating in a chase of three to bring back Colbey Pierce with Bobby Lea and Teun Mulder. As it would turn out, not one of use would find a good result in the race, but it was exciting nonetheless. Ultimately, the pack of about 40 that started was thinned down to about half that, and our pace explains why. Average speed for 15 km: 48.2 km/h. Ouch.
I came back into the infield after the scratch race feeling elated. My legs had been terrible earlier in the night, but now they felt great! The madison was coming up, and I knew that I could ride with best guys there and be competitive. A top three finish was definitely within reach. I was riding with Barry again, the same guy I rode the Madison of the Americas with 2 week prior. He pretty well killed my buzz. He came in looking utterly gassed, and explained in no uncertain terms that he felt the same way. So we took the track, my hopes still high, but now tempered. I could see he was suffering in the first few exchanges, one even riding right by underneath me, oblivious that I had dropped down for the throw. Not a good sign. I made a move in the first sprint that got us second place points and bridged us up to the team of Pierce and Lea, with the Canadians coming across as well. Maybe that top three finish wasn't out of the question. . . I threw in Barry, swung up to recover, and came back into the race to find that we were no longer not only out of the break, but off the back of the field. I chase back on, throw in Barry, and then find us even further off the back. This went on and on, over and over, from about 55 laps to go, to about 14, when we were finally caught and lapped by the field. So much for that top three. . .
There were plenty of other teams that went down more laps that we did, but it was still disappointing to get lapped. What really amazed me is that despite having a full crew of UCI Commissaires officiating, the managed to royally hose the scoring. As such, I don't even know where we finished, but I think we might have screwed out of some prize money. Some good did come out of my 40+ laps of suffering, though. David Butterworth, the promoter interested in sending me to Europe to race some 6-Days this fall, was in attendance. He came up after the race, and said that we needed to find me a stronger partner to race the Madison Cup with at the end of the month. The next day, he had arranged for Tom Hanley to be my partner. This guy has no lack of horsepower, as he finished 4th (I think) in the kilo at Elite Nationals last year, and was the top U-23 rider.
The biggest news of the night also came from Butterworth. He said that he has chosen me to be a rider to start in the 6-Day races this fall, and that he wants me to race as many as I can before I set off to Patagonia in January. So the decision is now official on this continent, but we still need to wait to get the final word on invitations from the 6-Day organizers. In any case, things are looking better and better.
Tuesday night racing this week has been cancelled in favor of holding a UCI elite sprint tournament. All of the international riders are staying here for the rest of the month, and the show should be great. I won't be racing tomorrow (This morning Erin Hartwell asked me if I was planning to race it. I laughed at him, and told him that I wasn't that foolish.) but the show should be amazing.
The plan as of now:
7:30 Wake up
8:00 On the bike
9:00 End ride at the track, watch first sprint rounds, ride home
12:00 Shower, eat, stretch
1:00 Afternoon nap
2:00 Read at the coffee shop downstairs
4:00 On the bike for a hard ride
6:00 Shower, eat, stretch
7:30 Arrive at the track to watch the racing
~10:00 Post-race party and food with the riders
This life is great.