Thursday, June 28, 2007

VeloCity 2007

Excitement abounds at Chicago’s Velo City 2007! (which actually took place at the track in Kenosha). A little about the festivities: Velo City takes place in San Francisco, Chicago and New York every year. It’s like a night at the track, but times three, in that there are many more different types of races all in the same day, which goes from about noon to 5:00. The first picture is that of the infield littered with us bike kids and our effects. It was really fun because most of us knew or knew of each other, and there was much cheering and excitement. I think you can see we’re having fun in the second picture, where the women are depicted warming up. (I’m the one in the bright yellow shoes.) There was a good showing from Team Pegasus, both Chicago and Milwaukee members.

But on to the exciting stuff: me, me, me. I borrowed a super light, super good-looking track bike from Cale, and took a bus down to Kenosha. I raced five races, the first of which was a three lap woman’s sprint (all of my races were women’s only, for the record). Three lap sprints are generally called Scratch races. Since it was a short race, I moved to the front of the pack so I was in the lead for most of the race. On the fourth turn of the second lap I saw someone start to make a move on my right, so I started sprinting for the final lap, stayed out front and came in first! (image 3) It was a great feeling, especially since there were some very fast women in that race. There was a second sprint race that I didn’t do as well in: during the end of the second lap, two of the women broke away and I was too slow on the jump, so I lost them.
The next race after that, however, was pretty exciting and interesting. It was what’s called a Missing Out, which means that after every lap, whoever comes across the finish line last gets taken out of the race. When there are three people left, there is a neutral lap, which is like a lap to take a breather, and then on the final lap a bell is rung and the three remaining racers sprint for the finish. Well, I was one of the final three, and I got second, again racing with some talented ladies in a race that takes a little bit of strategy and a lot of attention and even some mathematical skills. Such as, “How many people are left in this race at this point? Is there anyone behind me? Will she surge forward and leave me in the back? Am I boxed in or can I get to the front of the pack if I have to?” I think I got pretty lucky.
The fourth race I did was pretty rough, and I’ve got a bone to pick. But first, to describe the race. I forget what kind of race it was, but basically it was 15 laps, which is about three miles. One woman got out in front of the pack and couldn’t be caught (awesome job, Val!). The rest of the pack was led by myself and another team member named Michelle. We took turns leading, because ‘pulling’ takes a lot of energy. I think I’ve explained it before, but being out front is tiring and you have to be a strong rider. The riders behind the leader have it easier, because if they can get close enough they can get in the draft and kind of cruise along. Well, I was beat, but Michelle and I worked together and pulled every other lap for 15 long laps. Here’s the bone I have to pick: there was a very strong rider behind us, the ‘best’ rider at the track that day, who sat behind us and drafted as we labored along. I say ‘best’ because she was the fastest and strongest, but not very nice or even decent. Not only did she not help, but many people watching noted that she was making faces as we went around. I don’t know what that entails, exactly, but I’m quite sure she wasn’t making faces of gratitude. I consider it absolutely rude and obnoxious. On the last lap she came out from behind us and pulled away easily. Ooh, it burns me, but I take comfort in knowing that I would never use someone like she did. I also loved the support I got from Michelle, who was very encouraging. It was great to have a teammate out on the track to work with. Good teamwork!
The last race was called a Winnin' Out. The first person in on the first lap gets first and is taken from the race. On the second lap, the first person across gets second and gets taken out of the race, and then the remaining riders compete for third. Before the start of the race, we conferred and agreed that we were all pretty damn tired. We made a pact to just ride, and we decided who would win which laps. We stuck to the plan and had a good time as we cruised along, chatting and laughing. It was also a good joke on everyone watching the ‘race’. It’s something that would/will never happen during a regular race during a Tuesday night meet. It only happened because all of us know each other, we were tired, and also because no matter how we finished the race, our overall placing would not be affected.
Thus I won second overall in the women’s category! I won a special cycling backpack, a pair of gloves for winter biking and a very good, bright headlight, which I have wanted for a while now. Oh so practical! It was a great day to see team members I don’t get to see all that often (image 4, Team Photo as Tough Cookies). It was also beautiful weather- not too hot, and sunny and pleasant. It was really exciting to come in first (for the first time) and race with so many friends cheering. A thanks to Cale, for letting me once again borrow his bike and shoes, to all the folks who took the pictures I pirated, and to a fellow named TJ, with whom I got a ride home to Milwaukee. Also a hearty thanks to the women I worked with during the races, and to Val, who organized much of Chicago Velo City 2007 (final image) and the accompanying events over the weekend.

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