The Testarosa Velodrome Challenge (formerly the American Velodrome Challenges) is one of the highlights of my season. It is one of the biggest track races in the country and draws on talent from across the country and even across the world.
Being a woman track racer, we don't get many opportunities to race in large competitive fields with other women, apart from nationals and a couple of other large track races in the Northwest over the summer. Add that to the fact that this one is at my home track -- and that it was one of my first races ever (where I got to match sprint Jennie Reed 3 years ago!)-- I was hoping to do well.
My first race was the keirin. The sprinters especially came out ready to play: Dana Feiss, Jen Featheringill, Tela Crane...not to mention the 2009 Australia Scratch Race champion, Laura Mchaughey, US Scratch race champion Shelley Evans and a number of other enduros who can sprint faster than the sprinters. My first heat, I was racing with Jen Tripplett and Shelby Reynolds. And what is there to say other than I got 3rd, and top two advance. That was a bit of a bummer, but the good thing about keirin racing, is you can race your way back into the final through the "repecharge". The girls in my rep heat were overly aggressive in the moto windup-- swinging out of the sprinters lane and bumping. The dudes got DQed for this, but not the chicks. I just made my way to the back, because it wasn't worth sitting in the wind for that. This meant I was just going to have to leave them in the dust. When the moto pulled off, I made a big run over the top, got a huge gap and soloed in for the next 1.5 laps. So, I was back in the finals. It was Featheringill, Feiss, Mchaughey, Evans, Tripplett, Reynolds, Crane, and me. I drew the pole, which mean I would be obligated to the moto, but my teammate Brian gave me a sissy throw ;) - so I ended up way back. This wasn't good for me, as I have difficulty knowing how to ride from the back in the keirins, but I made my move to early, and then got stuck wide in the wind and couldn't come over, so ended in 7th.
Next race was the points race. I ended up 5th in this race. Okay placing, but I was a bit bummed with how the race played out. It was 40 laps, with sprints only every 10 laps. Such few sprints really changes the race. Hanan from PB&Co got off the front and the pack was hard to motivate chasing it down. I went really hard for the 2nd sprint, and that is right when Jen Reither from VK bridged up. They ended up lapping. In the last sprint, I got to sprint side by side with Shelley Evans to get 2nd in the final sprint. That was pretty cool! Had I won that last sprint, I would have gotten 3rd overall, but you can't be upset getting 2nd to one of the fastest women in the world. Anyway, as I said, the race wasn't really as fast as I would have liked, so, I came back for day 2 really ready to tear it apart.
Saturday was the Miss n Out and Scratch race. The Miss 'n Out is my favorite race. I think it has it all... it requires good fitness, positioning, saavyness, sprinting ability, and plus it is exciting for the crowd. And when you are a whore for racing in front of crowds, it makes it all the best. There were a lot of girls in the race, so I wanted to make sure to stay out of trouble so I didn't get out. I set pace at the front for most of the race. This is hard, because it really tires you out, but better that than getting accidently eliminated. I was pretty confident in my fitness, so I stayed up at the front. When we got down to just a handful of riders Tripplett started drilling it in the pole lane, and we were lined up single file behind her. This was great for me, because I could draft, and I knew no one was going to be able to come over 3 people. The last three were me, Mchaughey, and Tripplett. Coming into bell lap, I attacked. Hey, team name is "Bell Lap!" Laura ended up coming around me, but I got 2nd!! That was super exciting! Also what is funny is the Women's Beginner Track clinic I put on funded the prize money for the race-- and then I got 2nd. So thanks to everyone who came out to the clinic!
Last race was the scratch race. I was in much better spirits after the miss n out. My goal for the scratch race was to make it as fast as possible to drop lots of people. This was accomplished. Attacks and counterattacks went off left and right. I can't remember many specifics, but that was probably because I was going apeshit in the race. I felt great and could recover so fast and just keep attacking. I had the fitness to be in every single move off the front and also had the positioning and pack awareness to see all the attacks as they were going. This was a really exciting for me. There was only one move I missed-- and that was because we were lapping some riders as an attack was going off, and then I had to bridge up. Anyway, with 4 to go Ruth Winder attacks off the front, and I go with her. It was a great move, but unfortunately Mary Ellen Ash started chasing up immediately.... right with Laura Mchaughey on her wheel. It was a bit of a bummer, but Ruth and I exchanged pulls, but I knew we'd be caught and we were at 1.5-2 to go. I stayed near the front and led out out the sprint again at bell lap. Wasn't probably the best idea because this time both Laura and Jen came over me, but I held on easily for 3rd place.
Well, that was my long TVC report. Overall, I was really happy with my racing (especially day 2!). It was a real breakthrough race for me. I knew I had made a huge step this year with all my improved fitness from road racing, but at this race I got to see that play out racing against some of the best track riders in the country. I am excited to get some more speed and power work in this summer and ready to contest some more track races come summer and for nationals.
Here are some awesome pictures from the most wonderful Garrett Lau! Thanks!