Saturday sadness

The closing day of the competition is always a sad time, lots of hard work and hopes are now almost completely behind us. There is only one race left for Dan Schuller, an over 50 mass start race happening late today. Dan and his wife may be the only ones left. Casper is gone for a few days, the Stewarts are packed and making plans to leave. I am back at the hotel planning to meet up with Andy and Kathy for dinner, I finally get into Manchester city center after spending all my time at or very near either the hotel or the velodrome. Yesterday both Stewart and Schuller were involved in flying 200’s attempting to qualify for the matched sprint tournaments. I don’t have all the details but they got into some of the rep rounds in the morning but didn’t make into the later evening rounds. I think we all need to learn how to do a proper 200 on this track as all our times were slower than we expected. Sorry to say I didn’t watch any of it because I was still trying to rest up for a Scratch race scheduled for Friday night. I got to the track in time to eat lunch with the group, they left and I stayed to prepare. As I’ve learned with all these week long events, it’s food and recovery that make a giant difference in performance as the week goes on. Having said that, my Thursday night sleep was crap, all night not knowing if I was awake or sleeping. I got up for breakfast, back to the room for more recovery but not enough. My warm up was good, timed right, my thoughts of using a bigger gear put behind me with the help of Chris Ferris, my coach and confidant all week long. (by the way, I wouldn’t be able to do all these great comps and be as competitive as I am without his help and friendship) We rolled around the warm up ring and then line up at the exit to get instructions. Our 40 lap race is now a 20 lap race, ok now, out you go. Planning again to stay protected and safe mid pack until the end, the pace gets hot about 2 laps in and stayed that way until the end. I tried to stay in the draft as best I could Trying to find the guys I knew were experienced. I find one guy who generally is well placed and get on his wheel but he seems to be drifting off the pace, pass or stay? I decide to pass him with about 8 to go, probably dragged him back to the pack only to have him come over me with about 3 or so to go. I hung on getting 15th out of 18. I guess I only have one good enduro effort in me per week. Andy and Kathy were back in the stands so I went up and sat with them for a while, eventually Verbs and Mike Smith showed. We all sat and watched a while and then I needed to get back to the hotel, recover for Sat. Morning Team Sprint. Friday nights sleep was better but not ideal. The people above me must have been packing to leave early so there was lots of luggage being dropped around, eventually things got quite but by then I was awake. Off to breakfast, Mark and Laurie were already there, back to the room and grab my Zipp bag, shuttle is here, off to the track. The team sprint is an over 135 age category so that means 3 guys aged 45 each can race against us. Our total age is a bit higher, 166!!! There will be some screaming fast teams doing this. Mark and I had a really fun pace line warm session. My goal today is to get the most enjoyment possible from this experience, ride for fun and the sheer amazement that I am even really here doing this, what a astounding opportunity. Schuller shows, so we all got some warm up time in. Off to bike check for the last time. The officials spy Dans 2 cogs on his back wheel and tell him one has to come off, quick, back to the get ready tent and pull a gear off and we are ready. 4 ladies teams up first and then we are second in the men’s line. I am in the gate doing the first lap, Stewart second and Schuller to bring it home. I got a good start, out of the saddle using my enduro, smaller gear to stay ahead of the others, in the saddle entering 3 and then roll off for Mark and Dan to finish it off. :56.?? final time. Alright, we are in second, oh yeah only two teams are done. The three of us watch as the times keep getting faster and faster. This is a qualifier for a later top 4 final and the last I saw, 1st place was in the :48 second range with first laps in the low 19’s. Mine was a 22.7 something. Some of the 2 and 3 laps in the 14’s. By the end of 18 teams we are 17th ahead of the Russians. O yeah, I forgot, they did not start. It was great fun to do, thanks guys for going along with my crazy idea. Now the really sad part, pulling the bike part and packing it back into the box for tomorrow’s plan ride home. The shuttle picks me up at the hotel at 8 A.M. Mark is doing the same. A hour or two later and I am not ready to leave but all packed and looking for a cab.The reception staff call and arrange one for me. They are running slow today because there is a big soccer game happening in the stadium right across the street from the velo.