Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!

Last weekend, four of the Stevens girls raced on the newly-built Milton Velodrome! Siberian spruce sure makes for a speedy ride and smooth too!

In preparation for the Pan-Am Games 2015, this new velodrome will be the home of Track Nationals for many years to come. And for good reason, as it’s brand new, shiny and is almost (I say almost cautiously) near the centre of east and west of our lovely country. For those who aren’t sure, Milton is just outside of Toronto.

Annie F-M, Ariane B, Emily F and myself along with coaches Jenny and Chris (who raced stupendously well with several podium finishes in his races) all hung out at the track for a few days. Annie and Ariane were just racing the IP (individual pursuit) and the TP (team pursuit) while I added a team sprint and 500m sprint to those and Emily raced the omnium (a 6-event race).

Emily and I raced the team sprint together, and interestingly enough we were the first people to actually race on this track. Funny that we were both first-timers for track nationals.

Team Cyclery-OPUS (Emily Flynn/Ellen Watters) start bronze medal raceThe team sprint is 500m long (therefore Emily does 1 lap = 250m, and then I continue another lap = 500m). Basically it’s hard as you can go for 500m, but the person completing the final lap cannot pass the leader until they finish their lap.

Bronze medal final - Team Cyclery-OPUS

Next up we had qualifying rounds for the team pursuit. Four people, with three required to cross the line before the time finishes. We race around the track 16 times giving a total of 4km. With two veterans (Annie & Ariane have been racing with the National team at track events around the globe), I felt a little anxious about the whole thing. Below is a great example of what the team pursuit looks like, so have a look.

After qualifying there is a break for all the riders and then we got into team sprint finals and team pursuit finals. Four teams raced in both categories ย and each time we finished in the fourth place. The really neat thing was Emily and I both knocked a second off our team sprint time and in the team pursuit we were much less ragged and clipped almost 5 seconds off our final time. Those seconds may not seem significant, but track racing comes down to winning by mere inches opposed to breakaway sprints in road races. Day 1 – complete and the nervous feeling had dissipated.

Day 2 involved a lot more races on Emily’s part as she was racing the omnium. For the rest of us, it was just the IP. 3km = 12 laps of the track. I’m not quite sure if you’re aware of the sensation of dry mouth, but when you ride around the track at high speeds the mouth and throat really dry up. I’ve been told that a cough drop helps to coat the throat. Finally I got sweaty while doing one of my races and not just from the warm-up before. IP has a rider on opposite sides of the track race at the same time. Often times you’ll rarely ever encounter the other rider.

Annie had a great ride, ending up second overall! She held the first place for almost the entire duration. Ariane also had a killer ride with her strong legs!

Track Nationals Track Nationals

If only the still photos captured speed ๐Ÿ˜‰ (I guess they wouldn’t be called still photos then, would they?)

Emily also had a scratch race (bunch racing, basically a really fast crit) where the first person across the line wins after 40 laps. And then an elimination race. This is where you ride around and every two laps the last wheel to cross the line is eliminated. It’s quite thrilling to watch.

With Day 2 of racing under our belts, I only had a 500m sprint left to do. Chris advised me to just go ballistic for the two laps. I’m not certain that was achieved, but hey, I finally complete my first track nationals experience!

Emily still had a few races to go, but it was time for me to head home.

A summation of the weekend?

Track is certainly exciting. Adrenaline pumping. To watch and to participate. I’m not sure where my track future is, but I know that each cycling discipline (track, road, cyclocross, mountain, etc.) all feeds each other with skill and physical fitness. From a spectators POV I can see track being much more thrilling than your average road race (Tour de France and other World Tour races) to watch. And it’s a really neat atmosphere with all ages and abilities scrambled inside a stadium with a banked oval around you.

Happy I went. Happy with only hitting the foam blocks once. Happy for my teammates with success and experience gained.

So now it’s back to base-training and getting ready for the spring/summer road season. Up next: team training camp in South Carolina in March!! Positively looking forward to all 2015 has in store!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Until we meet again, eat, sleep and pedal!

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