Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Track Nationals

Finally, I have decided to write up an update the the track part of Jr. Nationals. I would say that it was a pretty successful trip. I am coming back with two gold and two silver medals. The races started out with a 200 Meter TT to qualify for the sprints. Surprisingly, I qualified in fourth. The first round had me racing against Houston Comrade Jameson Tomlin. The two of us just kinda rolled around the track until one to go until Jameson jumped. I quickly got into his slipstream and was able to come around him for the win. In the second round I was up against the promoters son, Jesse Marans. In the first round he jumped in the sprinters lane with one and a half laps to go and when I tried to come around him in the last lap he accelerated very quickly and I wasn't able to come around him. With this being the 1/8ths final I had another chance to redeem myself. At the very start of the next race I jumped hard at the very beginning to try and "kilo" him. He ended up catching up to me on the last lap and flew right by me to advance to the next round. I then went into the 5-8 round to try and earn a point for the omnium by getting fifth. Leigh told me to get to the front of everyone and stay there. I did what he said and stayed on the front the whole time....except until about 100 meters to go when everyone passed me. I wasn't too disappointed about this because I wasn't all that excited about doing sprints and didn't have that great of expectation for them. The next race was the 500 meter TT. This was the first time that I had done a 500 since the last time I had gone to track nationals, which was two years ago. I surprised myself once again and ended up fifth. This gave me one point for the omnium. Unfortunately, Benny Swedeberg had won both the sprints and the 500 which made it impossible for anyone to catch him overall. With the scratch race up next I had only one plan. Attack...a lot. During the race I attacked many times, but nothing would stick. When I would attack someone would come with me, but they wouldn't pull and I was forced to sit up because I wasn't going to drag someone to the line just so they could out sprint me at the line. With about four laps to go someone attacked and no one reacted. Thinking that I didn't want to waste my energy and chase him down I decided to sit in the pack. Then, the person in front of me got into the sprinters lane and put in a heroic effort to bring the person back in. It was the perfect lead out. With about half a lap to go I started my sprint and was able to hold everyone off for the finish. With the seven points from the win that put me up into third place, one point behind second. The next race was my speciality, the Points Race. The qualifying was kinda scary because I ended up crashing in the heat, but still qualified due to an early point that I got in the first sprint. During the final my plan was the same. I attacked right at the start and got away with one other. After the first sprint I found myself alone. I then put it into time trial mode and stayed away for another 15 laps or so until a group of two bridged up to me. We all worked evenly with me winning the next two sprints. This had given me a total of 20 points with second place with 5. The pack then caught us a few laps later and I counter-attacked my one move. I was quickly chased and ended up fourth in the next sprint. I then kinda just chilled for the rest of the race and sat up with one to go. The final points standing was me with 21 points and second with 8 points. With this win it put me up into second overall. After collecting my medals I then started my warm-up for the Team Pursuit with Alan Ting, Jacob Rathe, and Austin Stewart. We ended up placing second for that which gave me my second silver of the day and my sixth medal of the whole trip.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Memorial Park Crit

After returning from a fairly successful Jr. Nationals, I decided to go out and give the Memorial Park Crit a shot. I had no pressure at all to do well. My main goal for the race was to go out and get in a hard workout to try and keep my fitness level from dropping too dramatically. The race started out pretty easy with the usual break going off from the beginning. Kremke then got to the front and rode tempo for about 20 minutes until the break was finally brought back from a flurry of attacks. With a few counter-attacks going that never got more than five seconds ahead of the pack, we ended up rolling around from 23-26 mph for about the next 15 minutes. Trying to get the pace back high, I tried an attack with about 30 minutes left. I quickly built up a good gap, but trying not to completely blow up and get dropped, I rode tempo until I was brought back by a two man break. I quickly jumped into this group and we worked together pretty well until we were caught by the field with about 20 minutes left in the race. After some more failed attempts at attacking I was forced to sit in when we came around with five laps to go. An attack went with about three and a half laps to go with no one really chasing. Over the next lap many people tried to bridge up to the break, but they ended up just reeling it back in. When the break was caught the whole field just sat up, and I found myself shooting past everyone of the left side. Just like before, I quickly built up a large lead. I then buried myself for the last two laps. Coming around with one lap to go the gap had grown to about 15 seconds. I made the mistake of looking back too many times, and found the gap quickly shrinking with about half a lap to go. I then went around the 90 degree turn and looked back about halfway through the long sweeping turn to see a yellow blur/Ronnie Strange fly by me. I then sat up to see Kremke take yet another win, and rolled in at the very back of the pack. This was the second time that this exact thing has happened to me in the past two weeks. The first time being the Nationals Crit. Oh well, it’ll work one of these days.

Friday, August 8, 2008

National Championships Update

The road side of Nationals is finally done. So far, I am bringing back one jersey and one other medal. Nationals started with the 18 km TT, then the 25 km crit, and finished with a 56 km road race. This year my whole family came to California in an overloaded car with three bikes on top. The drive up here ONLY took about 22 hours over two days. We got here late Sunday night to check into La Quinta Santa Ana. Over the next few days I went out and studied the TT course and Road Race course (which I later learned that I was riding the course backwards). The TT course was uphill for the first 12-13 minutes than downhill for four miles until the turn around, then slightly uphill for another 2.5 miles to the finish. The best way to ride this course was to go all out till you get to the top of the hill and then recover on the way down. I did exactly this and found myself coming into the finish line a minute and a half faster than the second fasteset time. I then sat in the "hot seat" for about another 15 minutes until the rest of the 15-16 riders had finished. The closest rider to me was fellow Belgian teammate Anders Newbury forty seconds back. It took a while to sink in that after fours years of tyring I had finally been able to step onto the top step of the podium again as National Champion. I later found out that I had the fastest time out of the 17-18s as well. The following day was the 25 km crit with 15 laps of around 1.5 km and around seven turns. The race started out fast with many riders trying to get an early break going. Nobody was given more than about 10 seconds before being brought back by the 5280 team. With a little less than three laps to go I attacked after a break had just been caught. The next time I looked back I saw that nobody had reacted at all. At first I was a little hesitant because if I was caught there was no way that I would have enough "juice" to contest in the sprint. When I came through the start/finish line with two laps to go with about a 10 second gap I knew that it was now or never. I then went all out for the next two laps only to be caught 200 meters from the finish line. I then just sat up and rolled into the finish, which apparently took me over twelve minutes and 62 people passed me. My average watts for the six minutes that I was off the front were 415 with my average heartrate being 206. Today was the 56 km road race. The course was 8 km in length with a couple of small hills in it. Right at the start three people got away and quickly built up a gap that hovered around 15 seconds. On the second lap I was leading going into a U-turn when I slid out. Thankfully everyone else had avoided me and we were going so slow around the turn that I was able to jump back up and get back into the race with only about 20 guy's passing me. The only damage done to me was a thin layer of skin off of my shin. Over the next few laps two other riders had bridged up to the break and two of the original riders in the break had been shelled off. The two riders that had bridged up to the break had were both "Belgian Teammates", Anders Newbury and Alex Battles-Wood. With two strong riders in the break the gap had quickly opened up to around 28 seconds. With two laps to go the gap hadn't come down all that much. I then attacked out of the U-turn, bringing two others with me. We quickly built up a gap. One of the guys with us dropped off a little less than one lap to go. With about half a lap to go we finally found ourselves latching onto the back of the break. With no one really wanting to sacrafice their chance of winning I got to the front and started pulling with some help from Anders. With about 750 meters to go the pack was quickly pulling us back with the gap falling down to about 10 seconds. From then on the road was a gradual uphill till the finish. When the sprint started with about 200 meters to go I couldn't match the others and barely managed to roll in for fifth for my second medal of the week. I've included a screenshot of the TT.