Thursday, October 29, 2009

Manchester... backwards to Amsterdam

My internet has been spotty, at best. In Amsterdam the internet was available either by shared computers in the lobby with a time limit of 20 minutes or by pay-per-minute in the room. I dare all of you to time limit your internet use. You will see which websites take priority. My time was occupied by email, Cyclingnews, FixedGearFever, Twitter, and Facebook. The blog did not make the cut. Plus, didn’t have a good way of loading pictures and who wants a blog without pictures.

Now in Manchester and at our host house we do have wireless internet. For some reason, Shelley’s computer is the only one that works with it though. The first night there was 4 of us here all splitting internet time. Same situation, bored cyclists with nothing better to do but wonder when you will get the computer next.

It’s Thursday morning and I have some time to the computer and nothing has changed on Facebook… so here we go! Brief update of the past several days.

We haven’t done much since arriving in Manchester. We have gone to the track (sweet!) and eaten Indian food on Curry Mile (yum!). Our team manager, Nicola, has been having passport issues and has not been able to leave the USA yet. She is super frustrated and Shelley and I are figuring all these World Cup things by ourselves- how to get accreditations, how to cook our food by ourselves (seriously, Niki is the best), how to drive on the other side of the road, etc. Luckily the National team is here and the staff has been willing to help Shelley and I out with all the other stuff.

Amsterdam:

I had one day in Amsterdam to wander around after racing. My adopted family, who I will introduce in a bit, lent me a cruiser bike to ride into the city. One of my favorite things to do in a new city is to just wander with no purpose or direction. I feel like this is the best way to learn and feel the city. At the start of the day my adopted family gave me a tiny map, one that was torn out of the front of a phone book. Somewhere along the way, that map found its way out of my pocket. When I recognized this I didn’t care much because I was pretty confident I could find my way back to where I needed to be. As I started to head back towards my family’s house, I realized I needed the map. Well, I thought I would just stop and buy a map as I got towards the outside of the city. Two factors- it was Sunday and nothing is open outside the tourists areas on Sunday AND nobody sells maps outside tourists areas anyway. Several long and expensive phone calls, a train ride with my bike, long after the sun went down, I finally arrived back where I started. My relaxing day wandering the city ended up being an epic adventure with me on the verge of tears. My adopted family ended my day and my Dutch visit by taking me out to dinner at Meuder’s (Mother’s), a traditional Dutch food restaurant.

A cute couple riding their bike. You see this all the time.
ya...

A quick summary of Amsterdam… tiny streets lined with canals, bikes, coffee shops, and buildings that look like they might fall over. It always shocks me how old European cities are. Our country is a infant in comparison. Pictures don’t do justice on how cool this place is but I can try.


How old does concrete have to be before it starts wearing down this much? Old.


Can't go to Holland without a picture of a windmill.


Racing:
Eva and I ended up finishing 3rd overall in the 6-day. I am very pleased with this but left wanting more. It took me a couple days but I figured out how to race the Elimination races and ended up finishing 2nd the last day and had a couple 3rd places for the week. The skill level in the women’s Madison was better then I expected. The speed of the races was good too. I only wish we either had a longer race or a third race each night. I know that sounds weird coming from me, the sprinter-endurance girl. I am really hoping to get to race the Rotterdam 6-day in January because I feel like I learned so much over the course of the week. 6-days are great because you race, may mistakes, and have a chance the next night to correct your mistakes. You don’t have to wait another month or week to try something new.




Getting ready for quick ceremony.

Ceremony for winners!



I am trying to keep this short which is really tough. I could write so much more about the racing, the city, the people, etc. If you have any specific questions, write it in my comments and I will try to answer them.

Shelley and I are busy making meals ahead of time for race days... then off to the track. Last day of workouts before racing starts!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Whirlwind Day #2 & #3


Racing is great. Tough. Different style from the US.

On day 2 my partner and I took a lap with 2 other teams. This put us 1 lap up on most teams but 1 lap down from the leaders. There is 1 or 2 other teams that have more points but no lap. Therefore we must keep a keen eye on those team. If they lap we move down in the overall placing. That’s a lot of lingo for you non-cyclists.

Day 3 we struggled at first because we once again started in the back. It’s total chaos back there and is great for practicing my survival skills. We were able to protect our lap and managed to finish 2nd in the bunch sprint and 3rd over all. Eva and I are getting really good at communicating. Each day we improve drastically. Yet, we still manage to miss exchanges at critical moments. Today we missed an exchange at about 10 laps to go which left me stranded out there for a while.

Today is day 4 and I look forward to a better day. Yesterday my head seemed to be in the clouds. I wasn’t nervous which isn’t always good. It seems to me that if you aren’t nervous then you aren’t really excited. Too many nerves is bad but too few is bad too. Yesterday, I had no nerves and, therefore, no adrenalin.

I finally slept a whole night last night. The last 2-3 nights, I can’t keep track, I have fallen asleep at 5am. Last night I took 2 Advil PMs and slept for about 10 hours. It should help my head today!

The other US contingent showed up today. Although I haven’t seen them, it’s nice to know they are here and I will have some more companionship the next couple days.

Eva and I.. my Dutch partner.

More pictures and reports later… internet is expensive and slow!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Night 1

1 down and 5 to go. I was glad to get the first night under my belt. I had some extra nerves and general anxiety about racing in a situation that was unfamiliar.

We ended 4th overall on the night. We each raced individual elimination races which gain points towards the team if you place in the top 5. Eva did her job and got some points… I, on the other hand, didn’t. I got in a bad position and eliminated in the middle of the pack. There really is a different style of racing and that was a wake up call for me.

Our Madison together was FUN! We made plenty of mistakes and will clean those up and do better next time. Here were a couple of the learning points:

- don’t miss exchanges. We missed 2 which left me stuck in the race. A team never wants to miss exchanges and really don’t want to leave the sprinter in there in such a high paced race for that long. Eva learned from those misses and we won’t make those mistakes again.

- I needed to be more aware of the lap counter. It was different here because we raced it like a scratch race with time counting backwards and then when the time ran out we had 10 laps. Well, I wasn’t really paying attention. By the time I thought to look up there sign said 2. I thought it was 2 minutes but it was 2 laps. Oops! Our plan was to have me in there for the sprint but instead I threw Eva in thinking we had 2 minutes on the clock. She finished 4th which was great but that wasn’t the plan. I guess it would help if I spoke the language since the announcer was counting down the laps. But, of course, I didn’t understand at all.

- I was the one who started the race and Eva started on relief. We needed to start towards the front. I had no problem with this but some instructions from a race director before the race had me confused with the rules on moving up at the beginning. I ended up towards the back and that was a mistake. It was a fast race and hard to move up!

Had to include this picture. They do sprinkles on bread as a savory treat. Hmm...

I got home last night and couldn’t sleep until 5:00am- I slept from 5-11am. I think I was on sensory overload and my mind was racing about the racing and what I was going to do differently the next race. Tonight I take an Advil PM!

I am going to try and attach some videos… hopefully it will work. I left my real camera in the hotel room and all these pictures and video were taken with my iPhone.

video


video

BTW- reason #42 I really like Europe- even average hotels have really nice Grohe bathroom fixtures. None of this American Standard stuff.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Bikes and Dikes

Travel was somewhat flawless except that my bike didn’t show up on the same schedule.Luckily it has shown up and all is good. This is why 1) you always travel one day earlier then you think you need to, and 2) you always carry on your shoes, pedals, and helmet. You can always borrow a bike!

The first 24 hours and my sleeping patterns were all kinds of messed up. I followed all the rules but the body didn’t cooperate. I am writing this now, after 2 nights here, and I think I am all set. I slept 10 hours last night thanks to the help of my friend Advil PM.

To recap the first 2 days here, I will just show some pictures in no particular order because internet is paid by the minute and I don't want to waste time!


Bicycle parking deck. Everyone rides here!

Waterways everywhere. The city is below sea level.
Love small Euro streets. Don't need big ones when there aren't SUVs!
This is the bicycle parking deck from a distance. 2.5 stories of bicycle parking.
Eva, my Dutch madison partner, standing next to the track. 48 degrees I think.
Eva in the cabin area. Each madison partner is given a cabin. This is the only area in the infield for cyclists. The rest is for paying customers. Oh, women are not given cabins. We are relegated to the locker rooms outside the infield of the track.
Name tags above the cabins. Bos!
Our sponsor for this week of racing.
Every velodrome needs a bar in the infield.

Now, it’s the morning of the first day of racing. Tonight will be a show! For people who don’t know 6-day racing, I like to describe it like boxing in Las Vegas… its all about entertainment. The big names are here and the promoter expects everyone to put on a show. Don’t get me wrong, the racing will be tough. But, it will be fun too!


A couple random thoughts-

- Dutch people are incredibly nice. All of them.

- I am actually enjoying instant coffee. I brought my press but haven’t used it yet.

- My Swiss roommate and I can hardly communicate.

- Internet is not the same as in the US.

- Live cycling on TV!

- The manager of the velodrome wore a Uni of Colorado jacket yesterday in honor of me/them. I still can’t believe they won.

- Congrats to Lorraine Jarvis!!!! Masters World Champion in the 500m. So proud!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Next up...



http://www.zesdaagseamsterdam.nl/

October 19-24

I will be competing with teammate, Eva Heijmans, who won the Silver medal at the Dutch National Championships this week in the Points race. We will be representing Procycling, Europe's #1 cycling magazine.

What is a Six-day? Six-day racing is now predominantly a European phenomenon, particularly in Belgium and Germany. Spectators may also be entertained by live music, and have access to restaurants and bars. Riders compete as a team over six days in a combination of individual events, such as points and scratch races, and as a team in a nightly Madison.
Current Start List for the 2009 Dames




Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Reflection

It has taken me a couple days to recover both mentally and physically from Nationals. The week was full of some major ups and downs- a roller coaster for sure!

Good moments-
1- OMNIUM CHAMP! In the big picture, this is what I needed. It's my goal to represent the USA at Worlds Championships in March in the Omnium. There I said it. I admitted it. With the news about the Omnium potentially being added to the Olympics, this event became even more important to me. I did it! I proved that I am the best all-around track racer in the USA.

2- Madison with Christen King. See picture below! Besides the fact that we somehow didn't know a team had attacked off the front (nobody else knew either), we killed this race. Fun! One of my favorite events on the track. This silver medal was a good moment... even though we prefer gold.
3- All the Colorado people who came to LA this year to compete. I think we had 17 people representing Colorado. I admire all the people who are so new to the sport who came out, sucked up some pride, learned a ton, and had such a great attitude. There was also a ton of CO peeps who have been to Nationals before and really helped mentor the newbies. Fun group of people and lots of success! Thanks to John Cotton, Mark Tyson, and Pat McDonough for your tireless work.

Greg and his madison partner, Danny. Danny is 17 years old! Watch out world. Before the rolled tire and striped cog (150 laps into a 200 lap race), Greg and Danny were only 1 lap down and one of six teams with only 1 lap down.

Good times on and off the bike. Dan, what are you doing? I don't think I want to know.
4) Team pursuit! For NEVER having done a team pursuit together, Christen, Shelley, and I did really well for a silver medal. This is another one of my favorite events and I think PROMAN has some real potential. Congrats to Sarah, Dotsie, and Kim for GOLD!


5- Team Sprint Win! Glad to end the week with another GOLD!
Not so good moments-
1) I would like to know where I left my legs. If anyone has found them, please send them to me quickly as I leave for Europe next week and would like to have them there.

Seriously, my coaches and I have analyzed this over and over. We think we know what happened but it doesn't help me feel any better. I guess this is when you learn and move on.

Even though I still managed 2 golds, 4 silvers, and a 4th place... I was not fast this week.

For those who are cyclists and will understand- I was setting PR's the week I left for Interbike/Nationals. After arriving in LA on Friday night from 1.5 days at Interbike, I rode a 12.12 2oom on Saturday morning. I was upset with this time but could explain this after travel, Interbike, and heavy legs. My times never got better and actually got substantially worse.


All and all, it doesn't matter. I showed up and was not the fastest sprinter and didn't deserve to win the sprint events. I like knowing that I could still win some events with the way I was feeling :)

Every day I would show up at the track and wonder if I would open my wheel bag and find my legs. Some days, I just wanted to cry. Other days, I was pretty level headed about it.

Perspective- I have been racing/riding on the track for just over 3 years. I have come a long way and never really had a race where my legs didn't show up until this week (not including my first nationals where I blacked out during the 200m). I would rather get that over with and learn from it so it doesn't happen in the future. I did learn a ton. My coaches learned a ton. There is a list of small things we would change if we had the chance. These aren't excuses but learning moments.

2- I think the Keirin was the worst moment for me this week. 500m... ok, I wasn't fast on any level. Sprints... rolling a time like that, I deserved silver. Keirin... I was a DUMB bike racer.


Thank goodness for Greg this week. I was not exactly fun to be around and every day he was there to be supportive.

Some great racing by Cristin Walker this week! Congrats to all your WELL DESERVED wins. This is a picture of our first sprint in the finals.

Now it's time to move on and focus!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Day 2 Report


This was my "relaxed" day with 2 races. The day after the Omnium and I am not sure how the legs will feel.

I had the 500m and the Team Pursuit with Shelley and Christen. The rest of the PROMAN girls also had the Scratch race.

Shelley took a solo lap on the field to earn GOLD in the Scratch race. She successfully defended her 2008 title. Nice.
Coryn is our 17 year-old rockstar who killed it in the Scratch. This was her first Elite Nationals and will be competing in a World Cup this year.
Our Team Pursuit. We ended up with SILVER. For our first time ever doing this race together (we never even practiced it:) ), I was impressed with how well we did. We lost to a team made up of Sarah Hammer, Dotsie Bausch, and Kim Geist... a multiple World Champion, a Pan American Champion/National Champion, and a Junior World Medalist/National Champion.
I ended up with SILVER in the 500m. I was super happy for Cristin Walker, the new Champion! She has put a lot of hard work into her sprint training this year!


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sweet Victory


Ok, I didn't want to admit it before racing, but the event last night, the Omnium, was the one I really wanted to win. I needed to win it. 5 events in 6 hours. Long night.

On the international scene, this is the event where I can be competitive. I had to win it here at Nationals to prove it to myself and others.

The race starts with a 200m time trial, the a scratch race, then a 2k pursuit, then a points race, and then a 500m time trial. For those who don't know much about track cycling, this is similar to the pentathlon in track and field. It determines the best all-around track cyclist.

200m- 1st place
Scratch- 1st place
Pursuit- 2nd place
Points- 4th place
500m- 1st place

My biggest supporter! I think he was more exhausted then me and he has to race today too.
Podium: Christen King 5th, Anna Lang 4th, Heather Jackson 3rd, Theresa Cliff-Ryan 2nd, Cari Higgins 1st. That was some tough competition!
Christen and I strutting the PROMAN stuff. This girl killed it in the points race!
Today is the 500m and Team Pursuit. Greg races the Scratch race.