Since there seems to be a lot of commentary on the nys track championship and track in general, i thought i would share a race report written by superstar Mark Wagner. Mark is a regular at kissena on wed nights, cat 3 on the track and an all around awesome guy. He's a young dude, but has wisdom beyond his years and makes it a point to talk to/support/encourange everyone who comes out to race. True champion. This report and others can be found on his blog at http://hellofthenortheast.blogspot.com
Race: NY State Track Championships - 8/18 - Cat 1/2/3
The weather this year was really nice. Not too hot, not too windy. Just a little wind from time to time alternating between coming out of the east or northeast, I would say. The racing started at 1pm, so I was mostly awake. Despite my best efforts of trying to be responsible and not drinking the night before, I still didn't get a very good night's rest, which was compounded by my brother and Brean calling me in the morning. I wasn't feeling too hungry when I woke up, so I had a small plate of leftover fried rice and got on the road. I packed a cooler with some orangeade and HEED, which I hoped would hold me over for the afternoon. Along the way in, I stopped at Roadworx (state champion of bike shops) in order to pick up some handlebars that I had ordered a few months ago (whoops), some new cleats and some pink bar tape. I wasn't able to talk for too long though, and I headed to the track.
When I got there, it was time for the usual set up the tent, put on the skin suit, pin the number, ride around, change wheels, hear the bell to stop warming up. Yet another year of not warming up in my race gear. I did bring my rollers to warm up with, though.
The first event was a team sprint. Andy, Keith and I were the only cat 1/2/3 rhinos to show up, so naturally we were a team, which we had planned on before. The idea was for Andy to start, Keith to do second lap, and I would bring it home. I don't know what happened, but the whole thing felt a little off to me. I think Andy had a rough start, Keith's lap felt slower than last week, and I definitely wasn't where I wanted to be. Boo. The transitions felt good, though, and we didn't let any gaps form. I guess we were just off. Hopefully we can train together more for next year. The official time was a 1:29.26, which is not bad at all. I was hoping to stay ahead of 1:30. Regardless, it was fast enough to get Keith and Andy a bronze.
At this point you might be asking yourself, "Why do you say good enough to give Keith and Andy a bronze? What did you get, Mark?" Well...you see, Al Barouh and Andrew Wilhelm couldn't find a third person, so I said I would ride with them. Originally Andy was going to, but I figured it would be better for my omnium odds to be on both teams. Andrew was first lap, I was second, Al was third. I tried to clear my legs before the race, but my lap felt just as painful as before, if not more. Also, for some reason not yet known to man, I had this sudden fear that my skinsuit was unzipped around turns 3/4 of my lap, and so I took my hand off the bars to check. This gave me a sudden violent wobble at the front end, which scared the crap out of me and Al. Sorry again, Al. Either way, this team sprint ended up being the fastest with a 1:28.87. Second place went to Andrew LaCorte (I suddenly realize there's a lot of Andrews at the track), Doug Rothlein, and Kim Edwards with 1:29.10.
On a side note, both team sprints were done with the usual 50x15. Also, looking at my garmin data, comparing the splits between both team sprints both first laps were the same at 33.8s, then the rhino sprint had two 28s laps, whereas with Al, my second lap was 29s, which means he must have put out a 26s lap. Oh my data! (I guess this also means our slower team sprint time comes down to me being slow)
Next was the Kilo. My legs were extra tired, and now I was also feeling hungry. I had a gel at some point in the early day. Maybe before racing, maybe now. Who really knows. Regardless, I gave up on my idea of switching to a harder gear and stuck with the 90". There was much debate on the merits of starting on the home stretch or the back stretch based on wind. Karl came to the track around this time to watch, and we decided that the home stretch would be smarter, as you start into the wind, which is slow regardless, but you can finish with the wind, which should help with the fade. I don't know if that actually worked or not. My legs felt dead (this will be a recurring theme), but I didn't feel like I died too terribly, and I made sure to stay good and low. So kudos to me. In the end, I managed only a paltry 1:17.50, which my astute readership will immediately realize was exactly the same time as at opening weekend. Strange things are afoot in the kilo world. This was a second best time, as Al was able to pop out a 1:16.62, which he was also unimpressed with. I don't know if these slower times were due to the wind, or having done the team sprints first. I think all the other times, Kilos were the first event. Hard to say.
After this was a short break, so I rode around the track. Next was the 25 lap points race. Talking to Karl, we came up with some team tactics, which I think worked to perfection. I would make sure to stay behind Al, except during sprints, where I would stay in front of him. This of course is easier said than done, but I think we did admirably. Keith and JP attacked the field to take some heat off the rest of us and managed to take a lap. This meant Al and I were racing for third. Backtracking a bit, I edged out Al for the first sprint, he beat me for the other four, I believe. There were a couple of times where I got edged out by Andy and Keith, which perhaps we could work on for next year. The final laps were particularly painful for me as Andy and Keith took turns putting the screws to Al on the front. In the end, JP won, Keith got second, Al third, I got fourth and Andy got fifth.
Then came the 20 lap scratch race. We decided on similar tactics. The race started out slow(ish) with everyone just alternating pulls on the front at around 24mph. JP and keith attacked off the front again, while the rest of us just kept watching each other. I tried for a small dig to see how quickly I could get back up to the two off the front just in case, which took about a lap. Al was right on my wheel, so I sat up before catching up. Al made a few attacks, otherwise everything was status quo. The final two laps Andy got to the front to play leadout train for me, really drilling it at the end. I jumped and kept my head down to the line, just staying ahead of Al to counter the omnium points he got in the points race. The final results were JP, Keith, me, Al, Andrew (not Andy).
After this was another break and then the flying 200s leading to match sprints. At this point I was in second, two points down to Al. Then he got a call that he had to pick up his girlfriend from the airport. Sadly, the airport happened to be Newark, so a quick pick up and return was out of the question. We made a gentleman's agreement between racers that I would not try to beat him in his absence to steal the coveted state champion jersey. I knew this would be near impossible for me to do anyhow, as it would require getting second place in the match sprints (omnium points only go three deep for match sprints), and both LaCorte and Keiran (Irish national team rider) sat out of all other races after the team sprint in order to dominate the sprints.
For the flying 200, I decided to go with a 50x13, which is something like a 104" gear. I couldn't remember if I had used a 13 or 14 last year, so I just figured bigger is better (as it turns out, I used a 14t last year). That said, it sure felt heavy, but I popped out a 12.4s flying 200 for the second seed, so hooray big gears.
The rest of the sprints were done in a 50x14, which I for some reason thought was a 92", but really it's a 96.5" gear. My first sprint was a three up against Keiran and Keith. I was first rider, so I had to lead out. I originally was thinking about trying to kilo Keiran, but chickened out at the start. I rolled along just looking ahead, finally looking back in turn one. What I saw was awesome. I had a roughly 5 bikelength gap, with Keiran looking back at Keith. I jumped hard, which felt really slow with that big gear, and kept my head down. Around and I heard the bell, staying on the gas. I looked underneath me a few times on the backstretch as I was really expecting to see Keiran leaving me in the dust at this point, but he only came by in turn four, just beating me at the line by a bikelength (maybe two). We rolled around and joked a bit.
As fate would have it, since there were so few cat 1/2/3 riders left by this time of day, these rides basically were semi-finals, which means had I won, I would have completely screwed up the agreement I made with Al and been a real ass by moving in to the finals. Leave it to me to almost fuck that up.
The last sprint (thank the lord!) was for third place as a four-up with Andy, Keith, Patrick of the USMA and me. Andy was pretty tore up by now, so he was just going to sit in the back. Keith realized that if he won, he would have enough points to beat JP for third place, and I didn't really care at all, so I told Keith I would help him the best I could. Keith ended up attacking early, while Patrick kept looking back at me. I, on the other hand, was just matching pace with him and trying to keep him up at the rail so he couldn't get a good attack in. What a jerk I am. When it became a clear win for Keith, I moved out of Patrick's way so he could sprint, and then I sprinted around him.
This concluded the state championships. In the end, Al won the overall, as well as a bunch of other races, I got second overall with 1 gold, two silvers and one bronze, keith got third with two silvers and four bronzes. Andy, the ever faithful team-mate, sadly only came out with one bronze medal. Results can be found here: http://kissenavelodrome.info/results/2012/StateChamps12.pdf
By this time it was around 8pm and getting dark, so we all hustled to get all our gear together. My brother and his wife stopped by for most of the program, left to get food, and then came back to help pack. It was nice to see him. I originally was hoping to eat with them, but this worked out well as I was now able to eat with the team. Speaking of the team, Brean was shaking things up in the cat 4s. It's good to see he's healing from his elbow injury. In the women's field, the two possible future rhinos Jen and Shane got 2nd and 3rd overall, respectively. Current rhino Heather brought home a solid 6th overall, while animating the mass start races a bit. Back to post-race activities, Keith dropped off Andy at home, and then went to Wild Ginger with Jen, Heather, Shane and I. It was a great end to a loooooong day.
Alright, that's all the news that's fit to print. Thanks again to Alan, the officials, the spectators, and all the racers who showed up! (Speaking of which, USMA had a really impressive showing of riders. Keep that up, you guys!)
Oh! Tad also showed up to watch the races. It was nice to see him, too. Hopefully he gets his knee injury worked out soon.
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