I took my camera to Kissena far more times than I actually used it to take some photographs this year, but since I was pulling some photos off my camera in order to add some flair to my previous post (Goodbye IRO), I figured I’d share a few that I snapped at some point this summer. May shots of a carefree summer evening to bring you warmth on a rainy September morning.
Here’s my oft-mentioned buddy-teammate Al messing with Dan C.’s bike. Dan wins the award for being the least sentimental about the nicest bikes. That’s the Nagasawa that he messengers on.
Gui setting up his bike. He and I are the same size, but somehow all of his bikes are much larger than mine. He rides 53-54cm bikes, and I ride 50-52cm bikes. His legs must have some extra hidden length – we both ride long but his saddles are a lot higher than mine. His Felt is a 54, mine is a 52.
I’ve ridden a bunch with Gui over the past year or so, and he’s given lots of good advice throughout my learning process.
One of the things that JP said earlier in the year in his shoes as the club’s development director was, “You might be a sprinter with your friends but that’s a lot different than being a sprinter in a race.” The lesson is that you might have a sprint but in a race there’s bound to be somebody bigger and stronger who can apply that pure power better than you can. Most people’s best bet is to try to force a selection from which they can try to place, rather than to sprint against the whole field. The difference between a honest-to-goodness sprinter and someone who can occasionally sprint became obvious to me this weekend at the track, my first time out as a Cat 3. Unfortunately, only two other 1/2/3 riders had registered. One of them threw down the track’s fastest Kilo time at Opening Weekend in April and a few weeks ago at the State Championships. The other is a Master’s National Champion in the match sprint.
I had been hoping that a small field would be combined with others so that we could race some mass-start races, but it was only to be a handful of match sprints.
What played out “sprinting against” Andrew Lacorte reminded me of a scene from The Wire, when McNulty, roughly handled by bosses, and his partner Bunk are working their way toward getting belly-up at a bar. “You know why I respect you, Bunk? Because when it came time for you to screw me, you were very gentle.” Bunk – as drunk or drunker than McNulty – replies, “I knew it was your first time. I wanted it to be special.” Lacorte wouldn’t let me slip away when I hammered from the whistle, so we danced around a little bit, kept the pace high, and when I started sprinting, he just held me on his rear wheel, increasing the pace deftly. He didn’t ride away from me, which was either gentlemanly, or kid-glove treatment. Maybe both.
Later, in a 3-up sprint, I drilled it from the line as Colin tucked behind Lacorte, hoping that he would tire. Interested in an even playing field, I was trying to give Colin a fighting chance, which he had, though Lacorte held him off when they started sprinting in earnest (at this point, well ahead of me).
Afterward, Colin paid me a nice compliment. “When I was trying to come around him his arms were shaking. He looked tired at that point.” Lacorte, overhearing this, responded, “That’s a tactic.” Maybe, but leading your competition to believe that fatigue is not fatigue, but a tactic – that’s a tactic, too.
I made third place look easy yesterday, and besides, I got a chance to top off the tan line on my thighs.
And even though it was probably a stretch to say that I raced against Lacorte, it’s still pretty cool to go head-to-head against a National Champion.
Photos linked from Mike Mahesh’s blog.
I try to keep ‘race reports’ brief to avoid boring teammates, friends, and family members. I also try, by and large, to avoid making them the subject of this blog. I enjoy reading other people’s stories from their races, and I enjoy writing about races I’ve done, but it’s not my intended focus for this blog.
So you’ll have to forgive me for my last post, on last week’s scratch race out at the velodrome. It’s got a fairly high word:distance ratio, considering that the race was under two miles (if you’ve ever wanted just the meat and potatoes, as it were, of a bike race…).
But it was an important race: winning it made me win the evening’s omnium, which clinched my victory in the 2009 Twilight Series. I also won the remaining points I needed to upgrade to Cat 3 on the track.
I was nervous going into the night’s races, knowing that first place could either be won or lost. For the past month I’d raced knowing that winning was within my reach, as long as I didn’t give up too much ground to my nearest competitors. But instead of giving up ground, I looked at the schedule of races, said to my teammate Al, “I need to win this scratch race,” and I won the scratch race. And won the Twilight Series.
Like I said before – no victory salute when I crossed the line, but it feels pretty good.
The Twilight Series is over. Long live the Twilight Series. I love having a night of track racing each week but by the end of the season it gets hard and exhausting. Add some internal pressure – I really wanted to win the scratch race. I really, really wanted to win the last omnium of the regular season. That Big John upgraded to a 3 made it a little easier, but there are some definite powerhouses. Giancarlo Bianchi of WS United is a particular racer to watch and to fear. In the second half of the season he’s done very well and makes the races very fast and very hard with some devastating attacks that usually wind up with him riding away from the field. To wit, the 8/12 feature race.
Some sleek, lean new rider I’d never seen before went off the front immediately, opened a quarter lap gap, and stayed there, and a lap later I was monitoring a concerted chase from three wheels back. When the rider was reeled in there was a bit of cat-and-mousing on the front, some accelerations, but I watched for Giancarlo’s counterattack, and when he stood up on the inside, slightly boxed in but coming out of it, I jumped right after him.
He goes fast. I’m sprinting at 90% after him and he’s holding it, flying. He looks back, sees me, accelerates, I stay on his wheel, barely, he holds up and he accelerates again, keeps trying to snap the whip as it were. The 11-rider pack is a long, thin line. He’s got one more acceleration but I won’t let him go. He’s trying to break me and everyone else but tonight I just don’t want to let him… but I’m so near the end of my rope just holding on to his wheel.
And all of a sudden, there’s one lap to go, Giancarlo’s attack is neutralized, and I’m three wheels back again, with the first breakaway first wheel, the guy who wouldn’t let go of my wheel when I was following Giancarlo, and me. It’s been hard, the pace is slow, and we’re rounding turn 2 going into the headwind on the backstretch and I jump at the 200 meter mark, come around lime green, sprint through the corner in a wide lane, Austin on my hip, and enter that mushy, slow-motion high-speed headspace that I go in a sprint. And I throw my bike and win the race by a half a wheel.
I kind of wanted to put my hands in the air or something but the times I’ve won a race out at Kissena, I’m not elated – I’m just relieved that it’s over and that I didn’t screw something up. Last night I didn’t screw it up – and this morning the elation comes.
Andrew “Cupcake” LaCorte defended his stars and stripes in the Men’s 35-39 Sprint.
Christine D’Ercole won gold in the Women’s 35-39 Sprint.
And Alex Farioletti, who’s out in LA receiving intensive training as part of a Gatorade-sponsored reality TV show, took silver in the Men’s 30-35 Sprint; Dan Lim got 5th.
Big congrats to you three!
David Gardiner Garcia took the leader’s jersey in the Cat 5 field. We look forward to having you in the 4’s, David.
Al Barouh took 2nd in the King of the Mountains competition in the Cat 4’s, wearing the polka dots on the final day since the leader, Larry Urhlass, was also wearing the overall leader’s jersey, and second place Victor Lopez Polonia was wearing the green sprint leader’s jersey. Al initiated the decisive break of the race that went ahead and collected important points, and held off Lopez when he bridged up to try to win more KOM points.
Yack, meanwhile, bridged up to the break during a lap for Green Jersey points; with double points on the line, he attacked the break and took the points. In the next sprint he snatched a few more, reclaiming the Green Jersey and clinching the win.
Throughout the race the rest of the team raced admirably, doing all the right things. Eloy marked Lopez when he tried to bridge up to the break during a points lap; I dogged Sniadowski a few times; and Josh and Charlie led the charge to bring back the break when the Green Jersey. When it was over, prizes were awarded, and the case of wine was hoisted. Charlie Issendorf paid us a really great compliment: “Yack wasn’t the fastest sprinter, but he won the Green Jersey because of teamworks and smart tactics.”
A fine finish to a fun local series.
Every activity has milestones for its participants. Rites of passage. In my racing season, I’ve ticked off a handful: going from pack fodder to being a contender; my first crash in a race; first mechanical that took me out of contention; and so forth.
This weekend I had one more: the first time a saddle sore made riding on my bike absolute and abject torture. It was the Cadence Cup and I couldn’t cancel, not while trying to defend my teammate’s green jersey. But there was this angry boil protruding from my nether regions, a nodule of fury and pain, growing worse by the minute to the point where I was pretty sure it was about to sprout fire-red eyes and a mouth, to spit profane invectives at me and the notion that I would innocently and without the expectation of pain straddle a saddle and attempt to ride.
Maybe that’s why, other than two leadout attempts and a sprint, I spent the race cowering at the back of the field, content to catch a snippet of conversation from a teammate to be assured that yes, our team was represented in the break. Good. I wouldn’t have to get up to bridge or chase. That might anger the sore.
It is with thanks to Gui that I can share a somewhat successful strategy for dealing with inflamed saddle sores. Dissolve plenty of epsom salts in very hot water, to which I also added a generous shake of Tea Tree oil. Soak a washcloth in this concoction, press against the offending infection, and do your best to avoid letting your very patient housemate overhear you yelling “Oh the humanity!” as the mean old lump withers and begins to leak blood and pus.
Battle waged, I had achieved enough victory to head out to the velodrome that afternoon for VeloCity, Cyclehawk/Squid’s excellent introduction to competitive track racing. Mike Mahesh has some video of track director and all-around All-Star John Campo talking about the event. Two years ago, VeloCity gave me the confidence to take those first tentative pedal strokes on the banking, and since I’m returning to the track after a frighteningly long midseason hiatus, I took the opportunity to race, brushing up some of my form for the ongoing Twilight Series. And John Prolly got a photo of me warming up.
It was a good day.