After a few delays, we made it to Vancouver, met up with Brad and our hosts, the Popes, and got settled in. Throughout the day, my right eye started to get pretty messed up. A week ago I blew a blood vessel in it during training, but after a few days it seemed to have gotten better. Then suddenly it was bright red, swollen, and painful. We made a trip to a clinic yesterday, I found out that it had become infected, and now have a regime of anti-inflammatory drops to get it back to normal. Oh yeah, and this means I can't wear my contact lens in that eye for 5 days, which means I can really only see out of my left.
On to the velodrome. The track here in Burnaby is a funny thing. It's construction was started and nearly completed when the builder ran out of money. After some wrangling, it's now owned by a volleyball club who has courts in the middle, leased by the velodrome, and the upper segments (those parts that couldn't be completed the first time around) are plywood, while the lower segments are slats. As such, from approximately the blue line down the track is very smooth. From the blue line up, well, not so much.
The racing began looking very promising. The first event was a team flying 200. I threw Brad in, and despite almost being launched into the rail by the bumps in the track as he reached for my hand, he smoked the effort, turning an 11.31. Our time stood until the last team, Bell and Tuft, turned an 11.1. Second place: not a bad way to start out.
Next up was the elimination, but with a twist. Everyone rode, but there were no exchanges, and if your partner was eliminated, so were you. Or in our case, when I was eliminated, so was Brad. I really wasn't feeling the love, and we finished somewhere mid-pack. Zach Bell won the final sprint, and the pattern for the night was established.
Our third event was a 100 lap madison. I was suffering like never before. More times than I care to remember, I got a repeat taste of lunch, and the blurriness I felt was due to much more than my useless right eye. By the time it finished, we had lost about 3 laps. There was a whole bunch of suffering going on. I thought I was going to cough myself inside-out. Oh yeah, Bell and Tuft won.
The final event of the night was a 160 lap madison. Things were starting to feel a bit better, until the rider in front of me decided it would be a great idea to back pedal and swing up track. Never mind that my front wheel was there. The thing about getting your front wheel crossed up in a turn is like this: If you try to steer away from it, it leans you to far down the track, and will generally make you crash. If you steer into it, your wheel stops, your body keeps going down track, and you crash. The most you can hope for is that who ever is in front of you decides to move slightly down track. That did not happen.
It went a little something like this:
Riding into the turn 2 around the blue line.
Rider ahead dumps his speed and swings up.
10m+ of wheel rubbing.
Crumpled on the infield surrounded by people.
I've got some burns on my arm and a few smaller cuts and bruises, but the biggest problem was that I got knocked out cold. My helmet even has some nice skid-burns on it to accompany the two big cracks it now has.
I really hope I can put in a better showing tonight. In one respect, it was a lucky crash in that my head took the most of the impact. The rest of my body is mostly alright. I owe Brad a big ride tonight after his super-human effort yesterday.