2014: A Look Sideways!


So 2014 has more or less come and gone.  I have the CanAmQue challenge next weekend, which I'll be heading to as long as upstate doesn't get blasted with snow again.  I guess that'll be the official end of the 2014 season.  Maybe I'll call it the start of the 2015 season.  Who really knows.

In the meantime, I'll do a recap:

As I'm sure you all remember from my look ahead post that I never made this year, here were my goals for 2014:
-Sub 1:13 Kilo
-Win Spring Classic and/or States
-Get at least 10 Cat 2>1 upgrade points
-Top 10 placing in NTC calendar

Well, how'd I end up doing?  Here are my kilo times from the season:
Spring Classic: 1:16.56
Midwest Challenge: 1:15.03
Marymoor Gran Prix: 1:13.6
National Championships: 1:13.713
State Championships: 1:15.39

As you can see, I still need a little more work before I can give Francois Pervis a run for his money.  Close, but no cigar.

I came in third at the spring classic, but somehow eked out first place at states, so hooray for me there.

As far as I can tell, I got exactly 0.00 uprade points this season.  Womp womp.

And for the NTC Calendar?  I went into the midwest challenge signed up for the enduro events, and added some sprint events on a whim.  Turns out I'm not a track enduro when most of the field are national road pros.  I was halfway not-terrible in the sprints, though, and ended up 19th out of 64 on the sprint standings.  Still not top ten, but a surprise to say the least.

Grand total: 1/4 goals complete.  Shrug.

Let's take a deeper look at the season, shall we?  I did a grand total of four road races in two race days.  I rode two fields at Grant's Tomb Crit and two fields at Orchard Beach Crit.  I got dropped in both GTC races, stayed in the pack with no notable results at OBC.

I attended two NTC events, the Midwest Challenge, and the Marymoor Gran Prix.
Elimination: 22/28
Scratch: 21/31
Points: DNF
Kilo: 11/23
Keirin: 5/12
Team Sprint: 2/15

Elimination: 27/37
Scratch: 33/40
Points: DNF
Kilo: 11/17
Keirin: 14/15
Team Sprint: 3/15
Match Sprint: 12/21

Note that I created the winning break in the scratch race, but got gapped off our group of three when they announced a prime with a lap or two to go in the race.

I also raced at Nats this year.  I got knocked out of the scratch in the qualifier, 7/10 in the kilo (except every single person who raced the international omnium was faster than me), couldn't get past the rep in the keirin, and 4th in the team sprint.

I wasn't able to race at kissena at all on wednesdays because of no Cat1/2 racing there.  I raced a bunch of tuesdays (forgot how many) in the Pro/Am this year, and started racing Fridays as well.  Andrew Brennan and I got 3rd at tandemonium in the flying lap seeding and in the tandem sprints.  We ended up 4th in the tandem scratch.  Keith Hatton and I raced the final madisons of the season.  Our first madison was tuesday and our second was friday.  I might have almost killed the field, but the number of times we got yelled at as the nights went on decreased, so I think we're making progress, right?

Oh, better not forget I raced at GSVA again this year.  I think just once.  And I did the second life bikes roller races again.

I had the fastest qualifier at the NYVC roller race this year, but I screwed up my first round, which somehow kicked me straight off the podium.  4th.  Womp womp.

I guess that's it.  Stay tuned for next season.


2013: A Look Back

Well with the CanAmQue challenge now over, I'm going to call 2013 done and move on to 2014.  So let's take a look back:

Here were the goals I had come up with:
1. Sub 1:15 kilo
2. Win Opening Weekend and/or States
3. Race Pro-Am (Upgrade to Cat 2)

How'd I do?  Well, at states I had a 1:14.65, so I beat goal 1.  I also won Opening Weekend, so that's two for two.  Finally, I put in for my Cat 2 upgrade and got it as of September 23rd, so while I didn't race any pro-am races, I did get my upgrade.

I think that means I actually beat all my goals for once.  I'm shocked, and yet honestly I feel like this season wasn't all that great.  I don't know why, but I don't feel satisfied or fulfilled.  Maybe it was my poor performance at States.  Maybe it's just end of season burnout.  I swear it gets worse each year, as I suppose it should.  I keep racing more and harder each year, so it stands to reason that the burnout gets more intense, too.  I wonder how long I can keep this up.  I definitely suffered with motivation all year, and despite good results I hardly ever felt on top of my game.  Instead, I generally felt frustrated.  I think this was from a combination of forces, like frustration with not enough training, endless frustration at work, not having team-mates to race with, and just general dissatisfaction with how things are going.

By the numbers, it looks like I wrote 39 race reports, which seems like a respectable number.  Granted, four of those are roller races.

Here's my 2013 palmares:
1st - Pennsylvania Track BAR - Stagiares
1st - Kissena Spring Classic
1st - 2nd Life Bicycles Roller Race Series
2nd - Kissena Omnium
2nd - NYVelocity Roller Race
3rd - Kissena Labor Day Track Meet
3rd - GSVA Keirin Cup
3rd - Kreb Cyclocross #1
6th - State Championships

Fuji Super Tuesdays
Times raced: 9
Omnium placings:
First: 3
Second: 3
Third: 1

Kissena Twilight Series:
Times raced: 15
Omnium placings:
First: 4
Second: 3
Third: 2
Note that a few of the wednesdays didn't have an omnium.

And that's that.  Thanks to my team and everybody else who has supported me over this past year.

R13.39: FCV CanAmQue Challenge

This race report is basically just a copy/paste job of what I sent to Jamie Swan about racing his bike up at FCV for the CanAmQue challenge.  My gearing was 86" again.

Well, I've returned from Canada.  I rode the swan this time, and it rode like a dream.  I'm not sure if it was the geometry or just from being on the track more, but I noticed right away that I was able to hold a tighter line going around the track.

I was able to breeze through the first round of qualifiers.  There were 60 riders registered, so everyone was randomly arranged into five different 40 lap heats of 12 riders, where the top six from each heat would advance.  Early in my heat, a group of four went off the front to take a lap, but I just conserved energy in the rear group, which slowly disintegrated until there was just one rider and myself, so we had our top six figured out.  When the first group of four came around again, I hopped on their wheel to make sure I maintained my position.

These groups were then split up into two 60 lap semi-final rounds of fifteen each.  Joe Brennan was up racing with us, and he was giving me tips on how the races would play out.  He had said that these semis would be fast, but stay together since the riders were all of similar strength.  Naturally, this didn't happen, and I found myself on the wrong end of a gap with 8 riders up and 7 back.  I tried to surf wheels, but our group shattered pretty quick, and I found myself doing an individual pursuit trying to catch back on.  I wasn't able to, maintaining a quarter lap gap until the end when I sat up to try to conserve energy for the repechage.  In hindsight, I should have sat up sooner, but I was hoping the group would slow up to play some cat and mouse before the end so I could catch up.

The rep round was maybe five minutes after finishing the finals, so I was pretty toasted.  These consisted of two 30 lap heats of roughly 12 riders with only one rider from each advancing.  A rider attacked early, and I hopped on his wheel to take a lap on the field.  I sat two riders behind him to save energy until the backstretch of three to go, where I kicked hard, got a gap, but got passed on the backstretch of the bell lap and was out of contention for the final.

The final was 138 laps with a 14 person field consisting of the 12 riders from the semis and the 2 riders from the reps.  By the end of the race, there were only 6 riders left.  Amazingly, nobody was able to take a lap on anybody during that race, which just goes to show how strong the whole group was.

The bike got a lot of attention, with just about everybody on the infield stopping to take a good long look at it.

R13.38: QCW Roller Race 11/15 - Trackies vs Messengers

This is one race of a four-part goldsprint series.  I was invited down to try roller racing using the goldsprint seonsors.  The track guys weren't allowed to drink until they were done competing, but this wasn't supposed to be an issue and the roller race was supposed to be the first event.  I showed up early, and in typical goldsprint fashion nothing was set up.  Come to think of it, I don't usually write goldsprint reports.  Also come to think of it, I did a goldsprint at 318 cyclery a month or so ago.  I came in second there.

So the deal was the track guys doing roller racing weren't allowed to drink until after they were done racing.  This wasn't supposed to matter, since the roller race was supposed to happen first at 6pm.  Instead, the goldsprint qualifiers happened first, which meant all us track guys were sitting around with our legs getting cold and being stone sober.  This was compounded by the fact that the operators of the goldsprint setup seemed to have no clue what they were doing, with rollers constantly malfunctioning and one setup actually falling apart mid-ride.  By the time 7:30 came around and I still hadn't raced, I got a beer figuring at this point if they had an issue with it, I just wouldn't bother racing.  Most of the track guys figured we wouldn't actually end up racing anyhow.

Eventually, we did get our chance to shine.  I clocked the fastest qualifying time of 20.332 seconds while racing against Andrew B.  After this I raced against Andrew B again.  And then again.  And again.  As much as I love racing against him on the rollers, I was expecting there to be some kind of bracket or round robin style competition.  Half the time the sensors didn't even work and our rounds were nullified.  I was getting really frustrated with this completely half-assed event, which I made well known.

Eventually they said the roller racing portion was over, which none of us understood, as the fastest guys didn't even race against each other, and we all only raced three times, if that.  After doing some digging into the matter, it turns out they decided my qualifying time actually belonged to John Chambers, despite us qualifying in two completely different heats.  Beyond that, I have not a clue what else happened.  We decided among racers who was the fastest and who should get the prizes that were handed out.

After this, I packed up and left, but I can only imagine what kind of fiasco the rest of the night was.

Long story short, what a waste of my time.

R13.37: FCV Special 11/9 - "B" Field

I went up to Forest City Velodrome to get a feel for the track and try some racing as I was hoping to race in the CanAmQue challenge right after thanksgiving.  We drove up friday, got an early start on Saturday with an open training session that I was able to get in on from nine to noon.  Right after that was my Track 1 session, where I went through the whole "learn to ride the track" process, which was honestly pretty cool.  I know some guys complain about having to do intro classes, but I find them fun to see how other tracks run their clinics.  After this, we grabbed some lunch, and then I came back to do some training with the juniors.  I was able to do some 1 lap standing starts, and then flying 1 laps.  These definitely were smart to do, as going around those tight turns at high speed is something I've never experienced before.  The G forces really slam you into the track.

For racing, I was placed in the B field, which seemed appropriate.  Turns out I was a fair bit stronger than them, but that didn't really matter since I was told to just sit on the back and get comfortable.  This was actually more annoying than I figured, since everybody was expecting to slot in behind me, so I had to tell them to come on in.  Once I got on the front of the race, my big strategy was to go really hard so I could get more fast track time, since this is frowned on during those open training sessions.  And that's basically how the races went.

The first race was a win and out, which didn't mesh well with the whole 'sit on the back' strategy, so I didn't really place at all.

Next was a miss and out.  Also not won from the back.  I had a bad starting position, and floated up and down the track at the back looking for a hole, but I didn't find one I felt comfortable with, so I was the first one out.  I think they pulled riders every three? laps.

After this, I decided to try to mix it up a bit more.  The third race was a 50 lap scratch, so it was a good test of what to expect for the CanAmQue.  The start was much slower than the first two races, and I found myself too high up on the banking (I was on the pole line) going into turn one off the rail, which I tried to adjust for, but gravity took care of that for me, and I slid down and crashed out myself and a junior rider.  They let me get back into the race, where I employed the go hard off the front strategy, which let me win the mid-race prime, after which I re-integrated, sat in and went off the front again with maybe 5 to go, which gave me the win.

The final race for those not doing the feature Madison was called "last man standing", which is basically an australian pursuit.  I started right on the banking going into turn three, which I figured would put me at a distinct disadvantage, but I put in a hard start and found myself not passed immediately.  I think I only passed one rider when I heard that there were only three riders left.  Soon we were down to two, with us basically on opposite ends of the track. The other rider ended up giving up and I came around to pass them for the win.  Hooray!

By this time my neck was killing me from looking through the turns.  And my sit bones were hurting from being slammed into my saddle so much.

For those interested, I raced with an 86" gear, aka 50x16.  Warming up and early training I did in a 48x17, which is a 76" gear.

I did another training session the next day and then headed home, with some mountain biking added in for good measure.


2013.43-53: 9/16 - 12/1

After states, I basically stopped training.  My riding was sporadic enough that individual weekly synopses aren't really worth writing.

One notable ride was the Kissena 150 on Nov 2nd.  I only did the first 100 laps, which was plenty.

There were a few more races that I'll write reports for.

R13.36: New York State Track Championships 9/15 - Cat 1/2/3

Well this was the big race of the year for me.  It was originally scheduled for some time in August, but due to a lack of certain-level officials, Alan had to cancel.  I stepped up to take over promoting after Eric R talked to some of the t-town officials who agreed to Sept 15.  This was the only day in their schedule they were free so it'd have to work.  Alan had assured me that promoting would in no way affect my racing, which I believed.  Boy was I wrong.  Don't promote your A races, people.

A short time before states, I realized that the schedule Alan set up for me was a little wonky.  The first event was the team sprint, which meant that people had to quickly come up with teams on the fly without having any metrics for other riders' abilities.  This momentary chaos did give us a chance to let the officials figure out how to use the fancy score keeping spreadsheet that Alan usually uses.  The next moment of chaos came when we realized the team sprints were being done in order of sign up instead of the category start order that was posted on the schedule.  This meant that Karl had no clue that we were up, and had to get ready quickly.  Josh and I lined up and waited for Karl.  Dave the official said he didn't have time to wait, so one of us would have to do two laps or forfeit the ride.  I said sure, why not, but somehow I lost my balance and fell over right before the start, which gave Karl enough time to get over and ready for the start.  Funny how those things happen.  Karl and I knew our big team to beat was Kieran's kissena team, which we overheard we were able to do.  They had a bit of a split up at the start that they didn't recover from.  Our team integrated nicely and felt fast the whole way around.  I tried looking for our opposite team while riding, which was a composite team of Al, Lucas, and Dan Lim.  Turns out they just edged us out for the win.  I wish I had known because I'm sure I could have dug a little deeper.  Our final time was 1:26.60

Next up was the kilo.  I rode hard for a 1:14.65, which was the third fastest time behind Kieran and Karl.  Those of you who know standard Kissena times probably have realized by now that this year was screaming fast.  I don't know if it was the timers, the weather, or what, but I haven't seen that many sub 1:15 kilos and well below 1:30 team sprints ever before.

The third race was a 25 lap points race.  I tried to attack from the gun to see if I could either get some solid early points or preferably connect with another strong rider or two and take a lap.  It didn't happen and I fizzled out.  After the second sprint, a group of four got off the front who did eventually lap the field.  I didn't really end up doing anything noteworthy, which put me in last place.  This basically put me out of contention for states, which was fine by me because this is when shit really hit the fan promoting-wise.

The kilos, 500s, and team sprints took up over half the day, which meant we were running well behind schedule.  This meant we might have to cut an event.  We decided right away that flying 200s would have to go, as that would take another hour alone.  This angered the sprinters, who are an emotional bunch.  Then right after my buddy Randy the EMT left, there was a touch of wheels and Mike P went down cracking his collarbone.  This put us further behind schedule which meant we'd have to scrap all but the championship rounds of sprints.  This really angered the sprinters, most of which weren't even NYS residents.

So then I had to do a scratch race.  By this point I had thrown my helmet down in complete disgust with how my event was going, which naturally cracked it.  I still rode with it anyhow.  In fact, I'm still riding with that helmet.  Since I was basically out of contention and partially out of my mind, I spent the race attacking and venting my anger and frustration.  Somehow despite completely wasting myself, I still came in fifth.

The final race for the 1/2/3 combined field was the match sprints.  We decided to run them based on top kilo times, but since this excluded last year's state champ Al, who was very close in points to both Karl and Kieran, I opted out as the third seed.  Kieran unsurprisingly beat out both of them to win the overall, but Karl and Al gave him hell, with Karl only being one omnium point down.

I then spent another hour or more sorting through results, handing out medals, cleaning the track, packing away gear, and vowing to never promote a race again.

And that was state championships.  At least I didn't get stuck with second place again.