Our first day of racing in Madison saw constantly changing conditions on course. There was plenty of mud, but also permafrost ice underneath. This made for interesting racing as the muddy sections would often have better traction, since the 'clean' sections were actually ice! Kristal's race was directly after Carl's, so that made for logistical challenges as well. We share wheels and tires, so Kristal was going to use the front wheel off of Carl's pit bike. That meant we both hoped he wouldn't use it (so it would be clean), and that directly after Carl's finish he had to head to the pits and bring his bike back to the can for Kristal to make the wheel change. After that, she had about 10 minutes to get to staging for her callup. That also meant that Carl missed the start of her race. Whew! It was stressful! Carl's Report:
My race didn't go quite as I had hoped. When I got called up, there was 1 spot left on the front row, but the fencing pinched in almost immediately, so it looked like that would be a sketchy spot. My instinct was to line up behind our friend Harold, but instead I saw the rider that was favored for our race and took the spot behind him. That turned out to be a tactical error, as he was a really slow starter (although he went on to win), while Harold got the hole shot! Lesson learned-trust your instincts! I was about 30th off of the pavement, and making my way through traffic whenever possible. The course was mud & ice, with snow on the edges, which made for some sketchy passing. Many riders were clearly not comfortable in the conditions, riding tense and unclipping a lot, which invariably led to them crashing! One guy laid his bike down right in front of me, sending me over the bars, and another time I went down in a turn and must have slid 20' on my back on the ice! It was really fun conditions, but in the end I was 11th overall. I was really shooting for the podium, so a little disappointed. On the other hand, this gives me additional motivation for tomorrow's race, which is the important one.
An additional note about the conditions-the mud here is not the thick sticky kind we have in Colorado, but instead a really fine grit, so when we took our skinsuits off after the race, our skin was covered in mud! It was crazy! We actually took our skinsuits to a carwash and pressure sprayed them along with our bikes. That, plus a rinsing in the sink at the laundromat, plus a trip through the commercial washing machine, and our kits are ready for tomorrow!
This was my first shot at a Women's Singlespeed race. I've only ever done 4 SS races total and all with the guys, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. I had a decent start but it was immediately clear to me that I didn't have the leg speed I needed to really hang with the front girls. The first big hill I found myself slipping back into 9th. But I kept my head in the game and tried to ride smoothly. I did have a couple of mishaps, one I remember and the second I can't! But I believe both were when I was descending. I managed to get myself up into 8th place and really had a fun time. Now I just need to figure out how to race my SS faster!
So now my focus turns to tomorrow's championship race. Good night for now.