Track Racing Report 2014

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-

  1. 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).
  2. Safely compete at least 3 "Cat-5 races" on Thursday nights during the Spring/Summer.
  3. 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.

A sunny October day at the track: you better believe I put in a few laps!

A sunny October day at the track: you better believe I put in a few laps!

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. 

Sitting on the rail waiting to start my first scratch race. That's me, second from the rear.

Sitting on the rail waiting to start my first scratch race. That's me, second from the rear.

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.

Injury report

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^)