NEV Championship Weekend

MIT was up at the New England Velodrome this past weekend for the New Hampshire track championships and regional nationals qualifiers: two days of racing everything that could get you a medal at elite nationals. Tony Eberhart, the man behind the concrete oval curtain, even added in extra Cat 4 racing for us lowly non-elite riders. And, just to make it bike-crazy at the NEV park, the BMX track opened up this weekend with a full crowd of racers, spectators, and grill-for-hire.

El primer dia, the main set of races were all pursuits: 500m/3K or 1K/4K. The women all had good runs, with Yuri winning the 500m and everyone doing well in the 3K. Zach learned that he had too low of gearing on his rental track bike somewhere around the point that the tunnel vision started setting in during his 1K, which thankfully got corrected before his 4K run… which we’re guessing for times on, as the sun addled the brains of the officials. I remembered how much I didn’t like long pursuits. A points race closed out the day; Laura took off and lapped the field with teammates Martha and Yuri helping to control the pace and block the other riders. In the Cat 4’s, I took off on the second lap, hoping that the rest of the field (all pursuit guys) would realize it was a stupid move and wait to chase, giving me a small chance at getting a few points before being put out of contention. Nope. No such luck. Zach did a good job of staying on UVM Tristan’s wheel and followed him through the rest of the race.

Day two was sprints, mostly. Team sprints showcased the multi-age skill of the GOGUEN! family, forming two different teams which each tromped the other groups. Flying 200’s to seed the sprint tournament showed that we had several groupings that were, to within the clock’s uncertainty, equal competitors. (I turned white under my sunburn when I found out that Tristan, Manny¬†GOGUEN! and I all had 200 times within 0.20 seconds of each other, and I was already scared of them from the previous day.) Unfortunatley, due to the smaller number of riders and the age-group divisions (ie, nationals qualifiers), most of the matched sprints were reduced to single shot, three-up races. In the women’s race, Laura tried going early to take advantage of her pursuit power, but sprinter Kim saw her winding up and grabbed the opportunity and took the win two laps later. My three-up with Tristan and Manny was a mixed bag of racing, starting with a fairly neutral lap and a second lap of meandering, with Manny going to a track stand at the top of the track during the fourth turn. (Tristan drifted just ahead of us, but I wasn’t about to give in to¬†GOGUEN! on a track stand.) The kid finally took off, but he was “easy enough” to catch and tuck in, then match on the back stretch and just barely edge out at the line. The final race of the day was a scratch with combined Women’s and Cat 4 fields. I lead the first several laps, shutting Tristan out of the sprinter’s lane and picking up the pace each time I felt an attack coming from over the outside… except that it was teammate Laura doing the attacking. Oops. (Side note: human peripheral vision does not have color sensitivity.) The race finally blew apart with the pursuiters heading up the track and me failing to block in super-competitive Kim to help Laura. In the end, we all crossed the finish line safely, tired, and having learned something about track racing.

The next big race is two weeks from now, the second ECCC track weekend, hosted by the Kissena Velodrome in New York City. Now’s a good time to get your track bike in working order so that MIT can kick serious cogs down in Queens.