I was excited. I'm on a cool track team this year, George Garner Cyclery Track Team and I just got an awesome new track bike--after riding the same bike for 12 years!!
My brand new Tiemeyer Custom Signature Track Bike
I'd ridden the bike once at Northbrook and immediately could tell that it fit me so much better! I couldn't wait to see what it would feel like on a 250 meter track. The competition would not be easy; I would be competing against Cari Higgins, who made the long list for the 2012 Olympics and other competitors from all over the country.
The first race, the tempo, was a 12 lap race where only the first two riders across the line on every single lap get points. If there's a tie, the finish is determined by the placing on the final lap.
I was nervous! The race started and the pace felt fine, but when it came time to sprint, I somehow never found myself in good position. After a couple laps of this I saw an opening and took it. The picture below captures that moment!
Attacking in the Tempo Race
Photo by Lisa Lardy
I got a gap and took the points. Jeff, Jason and Kevin were in between corner 1 and 2 and were yelling to keep going. I did and took the next two laps! So exciting. When the field caught me, I was trashed but I had gotten enough points to keep second place! I was thrilled.
The second race of the night was the first of two points races. 60 laps, with sprints for points every ten laps. The winner being whoever ends up with the most points. Again I found myself not very comfortable moving around in the pack. I had changed my gear and felt pretty good with my spin and the pace, but still nervous when it came time to position for a sprint. I was planning to wait it out and attack solo again in the second half of the race. Unfortunately I never got the chance. About 25 laps in we caught a woman who was briefly off the front. She didn't realize how fast we were coming and swung up track and collided with another rider. The two slid down track into my path. I had nowhere to go but directly into them at about 26mph. I haven't seen the footage but I heard it was a spectacular crash that involved flying through the air and a flip. I was knocked out for a minute or two, had a little bit of road rash, but the main injury was a badly sprained ankle. I'd heard about the splinters you get when you crash on a wood track and thought I'd escaped until I got home and discovered them in the shower. The poor woman I ran over was fine, but her bike was totaled. She and the other woman had some road rash but were fine and able to continue the competition. Except for my saddle and one small scratch, my bike came out of it unscathed. My ankle proved to be the worst of it. This accident could have been so much worse - I really am very lucky. Crashing doesn't exactly make me less nervous, but from all accounts there was nothing I could have done to avoid it. I was mostly disappointed to lose the experience of finishing the event, and given my excellent result in the first event I was optimistic for a good overall placing. Double bummed. Now I need to recover from this and figure out how to get through the rest of the season. Lucky for me I know some good doctors at Hinsdale Orthopaedics and with their counsel I hope to salvage something.
It was cool to watch Garner teammates Jeff, Jason and Kevin compete, and really notable was watching Jeff and Jason work together in the Sprint Wheelrace to get Jeff the win!
Crashing sucks but the community on the track is the most loving there is. If you have to do it, you will be taken care of. So many thanks to all the people who helped me. Emma Bast took my bike to her shop and had the mechanics assess it and put on a new seat, and even brought it back to the track for me. Former teammate and current friend Elena Dorr was right there, and thanks to all the other competitors and friends who lent me a hand. And many thanks to my parents who without their help taking care of my children I could not do any of this ~and when push comes to shove and I need someone to take me to the hospital at 11 pm on a Thursday night, were there for me. Thanks so much!