Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Niki and I talked a bit how a lot of the match sprints on Sunday were won by people sprinting very, very long - starting with 500m to go. It's a risky strategy - the long sprinter risks tiring him or herself out, being drafted, and passed easily by a much fresher rider.

It's a bit different in a big match sprint tournament; at Kissena, a lot of the sprints were three-up or four-up. I realized that this can wind up working well far more frequently than in a two-up; in one, Niki broke early on turn 4, and Andrew, Deverell, and I fell into a paceline to catch him. However, since only one person would advance, none of us wanted to take the lead to drag the others up to Niki. Each moment that went by, he gained on us - the strength of the pack was broken by Niki's move and by the shortness of the race.

There's a discussion here on sprinting long in match sprints, which is pretty interesting. I'm still making my way through it.

But of course, it's focused on two-up match sprints. Three-up and four-up are of the more amateur, grassroots track variety (I call low-key down-home tracks grassroots track because of their phenomenal people power, and because the roots of the grass and weeds under the surface push around and cause waves, bumps, and distensions).

Next season I'll spend a bit more time and dedication working on my sprint; I watched it rise nicely this season - I even hit 40mph on my road bike a couple of times - and, with a bit more diligence and dedication, I think I can cook up something formidable.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kissena is my home track, but I wandered a bit and went to T-Town on July 12th. I had been feeling good - upgraded about a month prior to Cat 4, had been racing very consistently and placing well sometimes, riding a lot - generally feeling strong and fast. I didn't have any pretensions of kicking ass - I figured I'd be filler in the cat 4s at T-Town, but I'd still get out there and have a fun time.

I wound up doing better than I had expected - placing well in a points race with a big late sprint put me in 5th for the omnium, which qualified me for the B feature race. I broke away early - it was a snowball - and took 3rd. Hearing my name over the loudspeaker - "..And there's _________, of The Bronx, New York, out in front, collecting more points in this snowball" was a highlight of the season. I felt good. I felt strong. I was even surprising myself.

The low point of the season was late July. After having a great time racing a crit with Gui, I got very sick, recovered, entered a high-stress period that also coincided with the need to mourne a very dear family member, and racing suffered. It has been a difficult summer.

I've been thinking a lot about training for next season; I have a lot of thinking and planning and, most importantly, learning to do. Training is complicated - when do I do what? What do I need to build? I'd like to get stronger, faster, more endurance-y, and sprintier. Like everybody else.

So I'm leafing through a copy of the Cyclist's Training Bible. I don't plan to use too much data about VO2max or power - just a speedometer and some sensible plans - build endurance, work on intervals, do some at-home leg strength work, work on max speeds, and make sure to rest.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

I came to the realization last week that my track season is pretty much over. I was in really good form in late July, but immediately thereafter, got Very Sick for a week and a half, was off the bike for a bit longer due to Other Things, followed that up with Too Much Work And Not Much Riding, a short vacation. The end result was that I spent three to four weeks being sick and riding very lightly.

I did, however, make a point of going to Kissena for the State Champs and Nat'l Qualifiers for one of the three days of racing - just to have a last couple of races for the season. We did Flying 200s, match sprints, a 4-mile scratch race, and a keirin.

Very soon it was clear to me that I lost a lot of my top-end, which could be strong but wasn't exactly a thing to brag about earlier in the season. I also realized that I lost that ability to surge and recover, surge and recover, though I wish there were more mass-start events on Sunday to see exactly where I was after a slow month.

My flying 200 was unimpressive - actually slower than right at the beginning of the season, which was a bit of a disappointment. I got seeded into a 3-up match sprint, holding the obligation to lead for the first 200 meters. I did so, brought the other two into turn 3, and went into a trackstand. An MIT rider took the lead and I fell behind the other rider into 3rd. We stayed high on the banking, no major moves, just a lot of watching. MIT ramped it up on the homestretch, but didn't jump. As we went into turn 1 I took the opportunity to go high on the banking; MIT was looking over his inside shoulder, and Kimani wasn't looking, so I came down and passed them both at a good clip. But I left the sprinter's lane open for MIT, who came inside me; Kimano went over the outside on turn 4, and as my Felt hopped around on the bumps of turn 4, I eased up - my race was over.

MIT later told me that had I came inside after passing him, I could have taken the sprinter's lane and boxed him, preventing him from really winding up for a few more seconds, which could have held him (and, just maybe, Kimani as well) off. It crossed my mind but I didn't want to completely come down hard in front of him. But it was a really good race and I raced it smart.

In another match sprint, Niki took off with 500m to go, surprising me and the other two riders (yeah, a 4-up match sprint. Hmm), and rode away with it. Nice one! But he no longer holds the track hour record. That belongs to Ken Harris, who broke it on Thursday morning with 110 laps - 44km, averaging 27.5 mph for an hour. Wow!

I raced pretty smart on the long scratch - not contesting a prime, keeping myself in good position. After the prime, the leaders recovered and stayed together, the ass fell off the back, and I and two others were trying to bridge back up. Alas, we couldn't do it - the other two fell off and I rode through in sixth place. Not a bad performance, but obviously nothing special from me.

After hours and hours of waiting around in the strong sun, I was pretty cooked and not really psyched for racing the Keirin - especially after I drew the first position and had the obligation to stay behind the pacer - thus, leading out the sprint.

But by that time, late in the afternoon, I was ragged, and had a hard enough time finding Campo's draft as he brought the fume-spewing moto up to 32mph. When Campo pulled off, I was pretty done, and the earnest sprint passed me with 300 to go.


Later today I'll look back on the highs and lows of the season, and think about next season.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

An evening back at the velodrome for the first time in a couple weeks - and after recovering from a rough illness, over a week off the bike, and an accidental three or four pound weight loss - saw me riding with mediocrity. I kept trying to bridge up to the leaders and kept failing; the same four riders kept thrashing the cat 4 pack.

In the B feature I stayed near the front with three others who kept the pace high and strung the field out. I was on what I thought was the right wheel - somebody I knew from college whom I had just gotten reacquainted with - but he didn't start to sprint with 200m to go, and an attack came from over our shoulders. Fucking Angry Drew! I didn't even know he was in the race, or I'd have been watching for him. I did nip David Correira at the line, though, for 3rd place in the feature.

On vacation next week, so I won't be racing; there's only one Twilight Series night remaining for me. However, I'll be able to make half of the NYS championship meet (Friday night, I'll miss Saturday due to work, all day Sunday), which has an exciting schedule. I'll also throw down heavily for the Labor Day Meet, and hope that my track season will go out with a bang.

I'm looking forward to hanging up my TK2 and putting my Pogliaghi back together for pleasure rides around this new burrough in which I live.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

My vagabondery used to take me from the Bronx to New Jersey a lot, but that will change. Geography has changed - social geography. Also, I moved to Brooklyn on the same day of the change.

The ride over the George Washington Bridge - when it's clear you can see forever, and, with that kind of perspective, pretend for a minute that everything's different.