Great news: Dr. Ruf-Dawg is ALIVE, and doing as WELL as a Medical Resident might hope.
It's been an off-n-on summer at the velodrome.
Mikey spent a lot of the summer getting shelled in the B's -- he hung on and rode well but those guys are FAST -- and then came back to the C's and raced to some respectable results. Then Lady Luck shit on him and he tweaked his back swatting with a metal stick at grapefruit-sized balls lobbed at him. Knocks on softball aside, this was a pretty serious injury and only last night was he able to come back to the track. He was definitely off his form somewhat (from where he had been), but I'd say he's still riding better now than he was last year. He and I duked it out on the last lap of our 12-lap point-a-lap for what I thought in my hypoxic haze had to be 12th and 13th place, but turned out to be for the lone available point (4th place that lap!). My chicken legs were just cooked and he managed to draw from the stores of strength he's got hidden in there, and he ended up taking 5th place overall. Best of all, he didn't get skunked like the rest of us did. I was 6th. You see, when you race the C's, there's about a 30% chance that there will be a sandbagger or two who just make the race silly. While it's heartening to think that, had those two dudes who walked away with 1st and 2nd in all of our races NOT been there, Mikey and I would have been battling for podium spots in probably every race. Yet sandbaggers are a great dose of humility -- they illustrate plainly that there is a lot of competition above you, always, and there is a lot of riding to be done.
Let's see ... other highlights.
Iggy's back from his Belgium adventure. He didn't look as strong racing as before he left, and I suspect it's from just being cooked, or jetlagged, or maybe bored. It was good to see him, one way or another. He looks a bit more lean than when he left. That probably means he didn't drink any Belgian beer.
Bad crash on turn 3 during the B's miss-n-out (or win-n-out?). This event changed the way the rest of that race played out, and even thinned out the field for all the subsequent races, putting everyone on edge a bit. Kelly went down HARD with Andrew (I think -- I don't know him), making that awful, awful bodies-on-concrete sound punctuated by that horrible bone-chilling screech of metal scraping concrete. Everyone is okay, though less happy.
There's a company taking pictures nearly every week at the track now. Some of them look pretty cool. They seem to like Shaun Wallace a lot (but really, who doesn't?), but they manage to cover the whole crowd pretty well. Only one racing day of pictures up so far, but I imagine there will be more soon. I managed to sneak into a few in the Waltworks jersey, and you can tell in one that I'm about to take a serious flyer. I like the illusion that cropping creates -- without the context of the whole race in the picture, I might actually be in the lead, or at least not dying off the back.
I feel like I'm starting to recover a bit from the few months of spotty or zero riding, and am starting to feel like I have a little bit of form. I'm still pushing a tiny gear (50-16), but the C's are a slow enough bunch that I can get away with it. Plus, I think the months on months of high-cadence drills for tri training and weeks of trying to race on a stock 48-16 gearing have made it so that my legs don't get angry at higher pedal rates. Some day I'll have turkey legs (a step up from chicken, except for the tryptophan) and will put a bigger gear on. But first I'm just going to win some points, sandbaggers or no. With this slow-but-steady upward trajectory I could see myself actually racing with the B's next year. I've gotten to watch a few guys ascend -- Mike included -- and it's a bit frustrating.
I felt like it could happen, I could get points, in my last race last night, but I blew it. My fatal mistake was not taking an attack seriously until it was too late and I was off the back. I heard Kelsea (spelling? anyway the other half of Team Arguile) shout UP UP UP UP and I saw my favorite sketchy fly-n-die rider charge hard. I thought, "there's no way anyone will take him seriously", but I was flat f-ing wrong. Everybody went. And then I was in the back. I was trying to get coordinated with the other Steve and a few other dudes to get back on, but just ran into one snag after another, all centered on the C's not knowing how the hell to do pulls. Ray-ray was the worst. He was sitting wheel number 2 (I was 3) and he pulled up with Steve, bled some speed, and then realized he should probably pull, and dove back down right on top of me. I had kind of seen it coming and was able to maintain some space. But then he started to drag ass, and I had to pull up and over him in order not to run him over. So I pulled a lap. Ray-ray somehow managed to stay in the number 2 spot, despite dumb-ass blunderous riding. Then I pulled up to hear him goad, "Is that all you've got, one lap?" What a cock. What an idiot. He's racing Collegiate Nationals in a few weeks and I'm pretty sure he's going to get his ass handed to him. Of course that left him in charge of the line again, and I sat in the back to watch him cause an amazing accordian effect (with only 5 riders!) as he started to drag ass AGAIN. I heard the sprint bell ring, looked back and saw the lead was about 1/4 lap down from LAPPING us, and just called it. The bummer was, I still felt like I had legs, because I never got to spend them in that last race. It's all my fault, but it would be nice if I could have not been impeded from trying to make up for it.
Mike sat that one out. I can't say I disagree with that decision.