Thursday Night Lights at NSC Velodrome began last night and, as mentioned in an earlier blog post, it marked my fifth season racing the track.
It was so fun.
So fun that, after the night’s final race, I heard these words: “I love this. I do not want to go back to Colorado after Fixed Gear.” They spontaneously came from me. I could feel myself beaming as they moved from my soul and to audibility on the infield. As you all know, few things stand in the way of me and living somewhere other than Minnesota. [My apologies for coming across as a hater. Minnesota is a great place with many attributes. My history here is complicated and fraught with bitter resentment. This state and I cannot coexist on a permanent basis.]
Nothing particularly spectacular occurred last night. It simply went well. Every season builds and improves on the one before it. Naturally, I noticed changes – improved strength, ferocity, speed, wisdom, handling, comfort, ankling, etc. These changes did, however, feel more compounded than years past, which seems fair since I worked harder and with more specificity in the off season than I have in years past.
During each race there was a time when I surprised myself and a time when I recognized poor decisions. In the 10-lap scratch race I was reminded to keep an eye on my competition. With the keirin, I learned the importance of anticipation and acceleration. The 35-lap scratch race schooled me; do not pull for the final 4 laps. Ever. Especially if you are of the sprint-trained variety.
The best point in the entire evening came when I crossed the finish during the keirin – my favorite race. At the end of last season I bawled in a port-o-potty upon finishing the state keirin dead last … and trailing. I think I scared a small child standing on the other side of the blue plastic door, waiting patiently to pee. I felt like a sore loser, but it was really all a self-loathing pity party.
With this first keirin of 2013, I fought. I jumped. I did not look back to see if anyone was on my tail. I just went like hell. I found that elusive “zone.” I took third. Upon finishing, I smiled and let out a whoop of pure joy – not necessarily for my place in the race, but more as an expression of personal triumph. After years spent physically at the back of the back and a few more clinging to a back-of-the-pack mentality, I allowed myself to honestly believe I could do well, that I had and could summon the strength and speed necessary to be in the fight. I got out of my own way. I recognized that, finally, my head and my body are in this sport as much as my heart.