Sliding, Suffering, and Flying

Thursday morning was wet. Dreary weather. We almost didn't go to the track, but after waiting an hour, headed out. A warm-up paceline started just as the drops began to fall. Nothing serious. A shallow concrete track. You can ride in this.

We had been riding in the wet for about 20 minutes. Then I heard the unmistakable sound of wheels slipping and skidding, and spokes pinging. A crash was coming ahead of me. Through the process I also heard a very polite, British voice let out a calm "sorry." Kenny Williams had lost his front wheel. Matt Crampton plowed into the back of him. A woman behind him went down. A Kiwi named Julia hit her. Adam, another Kiwi, and immediately ahead of me in line, hit her. I swung up. That was close.

Then poor Jason Kenny came sliding up the track ahead of me. No luck this time. I hit his back, and go flipping over the top. Nothing too serious. A scrape on my elbow, another on my hip. Two broken spokes. My elbow hurt. I swelled up. This is getting to be routine now. Pack up, head home, shower off, ice, ibuprofen, and sleep.

I faired much better than Adam. He broke his collar bone. And he was planning on leaving from here next week, and going directly to the UCI International Cycling Center in Switzerland. Needless to say, he's pissed. Jason Kenny was very apologetic. I think he felt bad about it. As Hartwell said afterwards, though, no one was going to stop until some slid. Lessons for next time.

Friday racing was a double session. A 24 km points race in the morning, and a 10 mile scratch in the evening. There was a keirin interspersed throughout. The points race was pure suffering. I was stiff and feeling dead, riding on the heels of Thursday's crash. My elbow throbbed with every bump. I scored no points, but refused to let myself drop out. Suffering, suffering, and more suffering.

In the evening I started things off with the qualification heat for the 2 km Dash for Cash race. The field was stacked with sprinters, and only the top 10 from each heat would move on. With 4 laps to go, someone attacked. The field let him go. 2 laps to go. I knew I couldn't compete with the sprinters, so I made my move with about 700 meters to go. I got caught on the backstretch, entering turn 3. Maybe 100 meters left in the race. No dice.

The guy who attacked earlier got 11th. Jack Simes (the elder) came up to me after the race. He chewed me out. Told me that I rode a stupid race. It turns out the guy who got caught was one of the guys he's training. He blamed me for the sprinters catching him. Said I gave them the perfect lead out. Yeah, it was my fault. And not the 10 guys who beat him to the line. I'm not on his team. Simes isn't my coach. Screw them, I don't think I'll be working with him any more this week. Not when it's that obvious he doesn't like me.

The scratch race was fast. An average of 48.5 km/h. For 10 miles. At one point, there were 3 separate groups trying to lap the field. All succeeded. I was in the second one. This was apparently too difficult a task for the UCI Commisaires. They screwed up the results, for the second week in a row. The night ended with everyone standing around the registration windows, saying who got laps, and who didn't. The official was content to just take a pen, and write over the results sheet. You could have told her anything, and it would have gone on the results. Whatever. When it all shook out, I got 13th. Not bad, after a week of hard training and a crash the day before.

An easy week, plenty of rest and recovery, and I should be flying for the Madison Cup next week. I talked with Colby Pierce last night. He says there are going to be enough nations represented to make it a UCI Class 1 event. The Italian Olympic team is coming in. That should be impressive.