Saturday, February 7, 2009

Speedway Race, take II

Today I did the OCS speedway race again.

As I said in my last post, I didn't ride much at all this week because the weather was so freaking awful - cold and blowing about 30 mph all the time. Just riding to class and back was miserable. So naturally by Wed. I was bouncing off the walls, as usual when I don't ride. I didn't get on the bike until Friday night, when I did about 40 minutes on the trainer. I felt pretty bad doing this - power was down, and I developed several stitches in my side. This worried me, because I never get stitches when I ride. So I stretched out really well afterwards and just hoped for the best.

Race day: got there and warmed up for an hour. Felt pretty good. Tried to put together a group that was willing to try and lap the field at the very beginning of the race. Got a couple people to sign on, but not the kind of horsepower I needed to make it work. They called us to the line before last week, so I wasn't fully warmed up. My mom came out to watch, which was nice.

Whistle blows, I hammer hard per the plan. We actually got about a 50 yard gap, thanks to Brian and Kai blocking, before they started closing, and that was that. I sat in and recovered for a while. I felt a stitch starting to develop; this took the edge off of my aerobic power all day, and I had to be a lot more conservative with how hard I went. Everyone was going a lot harder than last week because the weather was great - nearly 60 degrees.

The race was pretty uneventful until I locked handlebars with a UNC rider on the back stretch. I was shooting for a gap and didn't verbally warn him in time, and he moved over into me. We both said some choice expletives and sort of leaned hard into each other to keep ourselves upright. All around us the whole pack said a collective "Shit!" and scattered. My front wheel was hopping laterally and something was "pinging" the spokes as I fought the bars to keep the bike upright - this was pretty instinctive for me, so the rest of my brain was looking for a graceful way out. At one point I was 100% sure I was going to eat pavement because my front wheel hopped about 6 inches sideways. Walker said he was behind and to my left, and he was scared out his mind. Kai, who was further back, said my back wheel at one point lifted off the pavement about 6 inches, but I have no memory of this (but then again, I was a little preoccupied). Anyway, eventually we separarted and resumed racing.

Thinking back on it, I am surprised how little of an adrenaline rush there was - I was pretty calm throughout the whole thing. As soon as we got clear of each other I immediately went right back to racing - there was no pause to take a breath or steady my nerves, because they didn't need steadying.

I remember two distinct thoughts while fighting for dear life: one was, "I am sure as hell not going down and ruining my brand-new team kit!" The second was, "I don't want my mom to come watch me race and see me leave a bloody stain on this track!"

I still don't know how I got out of that in one piece. Every time I think of how close I came to seriously fucking myself up, I get giddy. What a great sport!

Towards the end, my positioning in the pack was terrible. I was way too far back with 5 to go. Even though I handled the accelerations fine, I couldn't get clear and get to the front in time. I finished 20th out of a 50 person field.

No comments: