Although we had raced on the Velo Sports Center Velodrome earlier this year for the Junior International Competition Qualifiers, Stacey Giuffre and I elected to head down to California a week early to get some extra training time on a track that rides much differently than our home track, Marymoor Velodrome. In the week lead up to the event we worked primarily on lines for our flying laps and individual pursuit pacing. Going into the week of racing both Stacey and I were nervous yet anxious to be racing in what would be both of our final races as juniors.
Stacey elected to ride the Scratch race and The International Omnium as well as Team Pursuit and Team Sprint. Stacey went into the Scratch race with high hopes knowing how well she had done just months before at the Junior International Qualifiers. However, it was not meant to be. A hard year of racing and training had made her legs too fatigued finish it off in the end. Stacey was very disappointed making it all the more important to remind her that just a year ago she thought she would never be able to ride a bike again, at least without surgery (according to the majority of her doctors). However, Stacey didn’t listen to what the doctors had to say, she ordered a pair of shorter cranks that made it less painful to ride a bike and fought her way back into the racing world, culminating a year long journey by stepping onto the top step of the podium in the Team Pursuit.
I choose to race same events as Stacey plus the Points Race and the Madison. I started off the week with my Scratch race in which I was feeling very good and ready to sprint until one of the racers in front of me moved up and out of the sprinters lane into another rider causing them both to go down. For a second it seemed as thought I would make it through unscathed and then I hit the deck. With damage to my rear wheel and worries of yet another concussion I elected to not finish the race and made the very tough decision to not race in the points race later that night. For me this crash in the first race not only made it harder physically for me to race the rest of the week (as I had reinjured the neck injury I got in a crash only a month before) but also made it harder mentally to race as aggressively as is required to do well at the Junior Men’s level.
Following my crash I had two poor days of racing in the International Omnium. I recovered to pull out a 2nd in the Team Sprint, 3rd in the Team Pursuit and 2nd in the Madison. I was happy to get three of the elusive national championship podiums in these team events but was not pleased with my performance in my individual events. I had hoped to do better but attribute those results partly to my crash and partly to the fact that it is almost impossible to train locally at the level necessary to replicate the level of racing that is elite junior men’s racing., In a field where two of the junior competitors made the elite men’s points race final after a week of racing and got 6th place and 9th place respectively, in order to do well you had to be on top of your game 100% of the time. Knowing what it will take to do well at the national level and seeing how well some of my competitors did in the elite races I have decided that I am going to make a bid to do well in elite nationals next year. This means that I have a very hard winter and spring of training ahead of me, that I am sure will be filled with ups and downs, but in the end I will push through because of my love of bike racing!
Thank you WSBA for the support you provided.
Stacey & Erik