Wow. How did I let this one slip? I wrote this in October 2014 and, well... I have no excuse. OK, I have a long list but none of them are really worth it. So here it is...
Well, another race season has come and gone. And what do I have to show for it? Maybe a cat-4 upgrade? Not quite, but more on that later.
To officially race at the Marymoor Velodrome you must jump through a few hoops-
- Take one of their Adult Track Classes. These happen on various Saturdays and Sundays throughout the Spring/Summer. I took mine on June 21, 2014. It lasts 4 hours and give you a great introduction to the track, track safety, and basic race tactics. Bike rentals available just bring a helmet (and your own bike shoes/pedals, if you have them).
- Safely compete at least 3 "Cat-5 races" on Thursday nights during the Spring/Summer.
- After you have been cleared by the Thursday night racing officials, you can go to Monday Night racing, where the Cat 4 men duke it out.
At least that's what I've heard: I didn't make it to step #3 but I'm getting ahead of myself...
As described previously, I've been having a blast on Monday lunch breaks doing track workouts.
I did quite a few practice runs before my personal schedule lined up with a Saturday track class. It showed me quite a few things I didn't know, like how to get on your bike and start pedaling without hanging onto a rail. No, I'm not kidding. Have you ever tried to start-off from a dead stop, with no assistance, with clip-less pedals and 48/15 fixed gearing? That one took a while to learn.
Just under 2 weeks later I made it to my first of three required cat-5 sessions. My son made a video of my first ever time trial (1-lap 400m TT from a standing start).
Not my best attempt but it was enough to get me seeded in the racing for the night. More importantly, I didn't crash and I stayed below the red line for the entire lap.
After that we did a 5-lap scratch race, a 3x4 points race, and an unknown distance race.
Lap times in training vs. in a race (i.e. drafting)
Riding in a pack is a LOT different than alone on a wide-open 400m track. How different?
- Best 400m lap time by myself: 39 seconds
- Best 400m lap time in a pace line: 35 seconds
That doesn't look like much but consider this: that's an 11% improvement. The main reason is wind resistance while riding in a pack but the dynamics of pack riding also come into play. I know that the best way to run faster/farther is to find a running partner even if we only run side-by-side for the duration of the race, as I did in the 2010 Issaquah Triathlon.
The dynamics of pack riding are also something I seem to struggle with, especially the accordion action of entering/exiting a turn. I'm sure this will ease as I get more experience but for now it can be unnerving.
Second race night (i.e. I've got nothing)
After my first race night I was very excited for my second of three required cat-5 races. The night of the race something just felt "off" and I couldn't get moving as fast as I had before. After every race I would hang my head and pant like I had just run sprints.
It wasn't until later that night that I figured out the problem: I had a booster shot for T-DAP vaccine that morning and was having a mild reaction. Note to self: do not race within 12 hours of having a shot of any kind. It REALLY slowed me down. The other racers dropped me like 3rd period French, to coin a phrase.
While coming home on my commute one night (July 2014) something didn't feel right. I got up the next morning with a familiar pain pattern. After a quick trip to the see the doctor yes, I had another hernia. Surgery ended my season before it really got started. As with 2013 this one had the same story: no riding for nearly 2 months. Ugg.
Just over 2 months later I rode my bike to work for the first time and, as expected, it took me a LONG time to ride to/from work. This winter is going to be a little rough. There is also this sleep issue I'm still dealing with (as in lack-of-it) which totally zaps my energy and motivation.
What about next year? I'm thinking track racing (at least an upgrade to cat-4), RAMROD, and Cycle Oregon. And maybe a triathlon. Only time will tell... }B^)