For starters, I think this is the longest post title yet.
With that out of the way, let me begin. I got a pretty poor night's rest, and I actually had to work for once, so I sucked it up and drove over to syosset. There wasn't a whole lot to do at work, but it was nice to meet Russell and get a better sense of what the new shop will be like. We drove to the manhasset store to pick up some test bikes for the new bike racks that were being installed, and while I was there I picked up my 14t cog that Steve dropped off. The last piece of the roller racing puzzle. I changed my cog at the end of the day when things got slow, and just sat around to wait for my train.
Race registration started at 7, so I got a 5:22 train from Syosset to get into penn at 6:20. There were three problems with the train ride, though. For starters, there was a justin bieber concert in MSG, so the train was full of screaming fangirls. Second, sitting behind me was the most annoying girl I have ever heard talking on the phone the whole time about how annoying the bieber fans were. Finally, the massive throngs of beiber lovers/haters meant that the train was 10 minutes late getting into Penn.
I headed over to the 2/3 turnstiles, somehow was able to shove myself, my messenger bag, my pump, and my bike through and had to wait 10 minutes for a train. I changed at 14th street, which always involves getting completely lost, finally got on the F downtown after a short stint on the uptown F platform, and got to the Houston/2av stop. Hustling down Houston with my bike over my shoulder, I finally got to the bar at around 5min to 7:30. I gave my bike to Alan to check rollout (on a side note, I used my standard 51x14, which I seem to always neglect to write down) as I filled out the rider release and changed into my Pink Rhino kit. Somehow I managed to drop the elastic part of my heart rate monitor strap in the 15 feet between my bag and the bathroom behind the stage where I changed. I searched and searched, but couldn't find it, so I just went without. I warmed up for a little bit, without doing any really high efforts and figured I was good enough. One thing I realized immediately was that it was realllly hot underneath those lights on the stage. I made sure to sneak some ice from the bar from time to time and otherwise generally hung out in the men's bathroom with the rest of the riders. Eventually I was able to find an outlet to plug in a fan that we found in the bathroom and it was downright tolerable.
For those who were wondering, there were 13 riders registered and 11 riders who actually showed up. For those of you who don't care about backstory, the actual race data will follow:
The evening started with 500m timed seeding. These were done two-up, with only Alan officiating. This just goes to show how awesome he is at officiating things. Most of the time I can't even handle timing one rider. I went up against Sree. He was on the red rollers, I was on the green (I actually took the time to write down the race details this time). I got a good start, spun up quick and eventually I was told I was done. I slowed down, but alan still looked like he was pretty intensely focused on us, so I suddenly got really confused if I screwed up or not. Eventually he yelled "TIME!" and explained that he didn't want to say it when i was done so he could get Sree's time. Fair enough. I completed my seeding in 16.68s, which was the 4th fastest time. Ahead of me was Calan with a 16.3, Diefenbach at 16.39 after flatting three tubulars, and Al with a 16.41.
After a short break came the first round. These were done three up. My round consisted of Calan on the red, me on the green, and Joe Masser on the blue rollers. I got a good start, which gave me an early lead, which I tried to barely hold on to. I was waiting for my holder to tell me at any moment that I got passed, but it didn't come. Alan called time and announced that for the first time that he's ever officiated roller racing, there was a round 1 tie. Hooray! History in the making.
We all went back into the relative cool of the men's room and after the rest of the first round races, Alan said that the decider for our tie would be a 500m roll-off. Alan gave us a good long warmup, which I was debating may or may not have helped as those lights got real hot real quick. Stopping to get ready for the start, my bike was cocked slightly to the left and Dave - who was my holder this round - leaned me a little to counter, but I didn't like that so much, so I asked him to lean me the other way. Regardless, my start was a little tentative, which meant I didn't get the lead, and Calan won the roll-off. I was on the green rollers again, Calan was on the red.
After this was another break and then the repechage rounds. These were three rounds of two-ups. I raced against Ron Ferraz, with him on the red and me on the green rollers again. You might notice a theme here on my roller choice. I was able to pull away from Ron and maintain my lead on this round, which put me back into the semis. I think he was happy to be able to hit the bar, and to be honest, I was a little envious. At this point I was also debating eating a gel, specifically whether the boost of energy would be worth the potential for throwing up on the rollers.
I think there was another break here and then the semi-finals. There were two of these with Diefenbach vs Chambers vs Calan and my round which was Bobby Lea on blue vs me on green vs Al on red. I got a good start again, which got me the lead, but at around 400m or so, I lost it. I then dug as hard as I could to try to get it back. My holder was shouting in my ear that I was closing the gap and we were almost at the finish. In the end, Alan yelled "TIME!" and I thought for sure I was in second place, but then Alan pointed to me. I was confused as hell as to why he was pointing until it was explained that I took the lead back and won! This took a little bit to register, but when it did, I was the happiest racer alive. A victory dance on the stage, and I went back to the bathroom to cool off. My holder, who sadly I didn't catch the name of, carried my bike off stage for me. He was a really cool guy.
After this came the 5/6 finals, the 3/4 finals and then my finals for first and second place. This race was once again between Calan and me. He was on the red (again) and I was on the green (again). Just like in the roll-off, my wheel was cocked to the side a little and I thought about asking if I could spin around again to straighten out, but I didn't. This meant I got a slow start, so I was behind to begin with. I tried my hardest to keep up, almost riding off the rollers in the last 300m or so, but Calan kept pulling away. By the end I basically turned off the gas and accepted my fate. When I got off the rollers, I had a sharp pain on the left side of my upper back and had trouble standing for a few seconds. I think maybe I pulled something trying to pull my bike back into line when I almost rolled off the side. Either way, I was completely satisfied with my second place and couldn't really ask for better. I just hope I gave the final rounds the level of excitement they deserve.
After this was the crowd favorite rider award, which went to the only woman racer, Amy, who was able to beat Sree in a best out of three race set. Poor Sree...
I picked up my sweet prizes for second place, took some photos, chatted for a little, got a gin&tonic on the house and then packed up and got ready to head out. After the rest of the racers cleared out, I found my HRM strap on the ground, so that was nice. Al asked if I wanted to get some tacos with him, which I thought was a great idea. I talked to Taliah for a little bit outside while he looked up directions, then we headed out. Between the cold air and my race gear still being on my bike, I thought my legs were going to explode, but the tacos were delicious and the conversation was good, so it was worth it.
I walked back to the subway, where I ended up bumping into Dan and Andy from nyvelocity.com, who put on the event, which was pretty cool. We talked some more, including debating if a rider could do a trackstand on the subway, which I thought about trying but wussed out (next time!), and then got lost walking from the 32st F station to Penn. Eventually I made it, found out I had 40 minutes until my train, so I got a foster's can from the news stand. The train came, I fought off sleep until Syosset, threw my bike in the car and blasted the best bluegrass I had on the trip back home. I finally rolled in at 3am, tired but happy.
Thanks to everybody who put on the roller race, officiated the race, watched the race, raced at the race, sat in the bar next to the race. Thanks to Shane and the rest of Pink Rhino for motivating me. And thanks to Al for the taco suggestion. I'm telling you, he's a classy racer. I'm looking forward to his next season on his new team.