The day started like the two before. Restless sleep, poor eating, totally wired. I seem to put so much stress on myself when I race. I’ve gotten better; I used to get those nervous butterflies every Friday afternoon before RAW. But this being nationals, and me being on the other side of the world, the stakes were higher, and I had myself wound up that tight. To make matters worse, I was in communication lock down. Not by choice, the velodrome wifi was not working, so I had no communication with Carl, Ben, or my dad.
One thing I did do was find the best accommodation ever. It was a place on Air BnB I was across the road. This meant I got my usual routine of pack the track bag, ride to the track, set up the bike. I love riding my bike to the track. it clears my head. So I got to the track, put on the race wheels, and set off to figure out the days schedule. 500’s up first. I don’t wanna. my legs are feeling smashed and the keirin rounds are right after the 500. I might have 10 minutes rest. Oh! good news keirins are a straight final! ah what?, you want to put the final right after the 500! No way, that’s unfair, the final is scheduled to run in the afternoon. The commissars said they didn’t think we would want to wait around. naw, not on. gotta go talk to all the other girls. Everyone else agrees, phew, the commissars agree to put it on in the afternoon. Good.
First up the ‘500’ or the one lap screamer plus a one lap warm down for me. Right, gear selection, I normally know what I want, but I’m tossing up between 92 and 94. Rock, Paper, Scissors (I’m 94″ Dan is 92″) I win, so 94″ it is. I grabbed a coffee with 30 minutes till race time, put on my skinsuit, and pranced. The velodrome is so warm, this is great. I then sat down in my PJ bottoms and jumper, and watched the qualifiers of the team sprint. 5, 4, 3, up, back, boom. Practised that every time I heard the beeps. Elite women called to the bike check, put on the shoes, pull the helmet out. Bike is all good, sit down, tie up shoes, helmet on. heat one, 5, 4, 3, up, back, boom. I’m next. Pedals set, I walk up to the gate, bike in, easy, just like training, clip in , sit up relax, 30, breath, 10, into the drops, this is it, 5, 4, 3, up, back, and GO! boom so clean, nice one, oh, not a quarter lap, go go go! up up up, don’t throw the bike on the line, keep going, second lap, nice and easy!!! boo ya. That was the least painful 500 I have ever done, will have to do it agian. 37.6 not bad. 20.8 first lap.
Cool down, Relax. Ya right, relax. So instead of having a qualifying keirin where all I had to do was beat 1 other girl and scope out my comp, it is now a straight final. 7 of us, and I only know how 3 plus me race. Game plan. Uhhhhh. Ok Lizanne, stop freaking out. You have ages, relax.
Grab food, have a nap. One thing I do know is I’m running 102. My go-to keirin gear, no debate, that gear is what I’m running. No doubts.
Session 2. Grab skinsuit, prance, change gears. I did the early prance to make sure my legs felt ok after the morning. They felt good, I’m feeling good, this is good. Change gear. Slowly, there is heaps of time before the race. So I chat with Rick, game plan, I can do this. There are 7 of us in the race, so I want to be on the front there will be no risking getting caught at the back. Grab the bike, or grab a good wheel, then take control. Stay out of trouble, stay at the front. Got it.
Right 30 min from race, prance, put pj’s and jumper on, keep warm, relax. Oh, coffee, I forgot, I didn’t finish my coffee, can life get any better! Maddi, just came around, relax, they are running late… hmmm. Commissar comes around, keirins will be in an hour!? What, you’r putting a 30 min on track w/up when we are running late? No way, this blows, there goes my race prep. Shoes off, food eaten, Smack talk talked. Chatting with Chris (another big sprinter on the NCCH team) I went over my game plan, he knows the other riders better than me. He reckons my big gear is right, Kate will be pushing big. I say how I want to control it from the bike, or grab a wheel and stay close to the front. I really want a jug of apple cider. Canadian coach comes around, keirins are on. Right. Get ready now. Finish coffee, run down stairs micro prance (like a prance but half of everything) PUMP TYRES!!! Can’t believe I forgot that.
Bike check, shoes on, do hair, polish kask lens. Elite womens keirin, first up. I draw 1,my plan is working out. I jump on the fence, clip in, go into position. I’m chillin with Maddi, waiting on the others. Ohhhh, Monique is next to me, I whisper to Maddi “maybe I’ll let her in” Maddi gives a nodding approval. Hmmm. All lined up, bike is coming. BANG! Go, I got the bike, Kate is next to me, hmmm, so I let Kate in, look behind, Monique is on my wheel, Krista Ruby behind, then the others at the back. Right, just like the MCOW, be patient, hold second wheel, make the others go the long way. 4 laps, hold off the wheel, Kate’s not giving room, Monique is, get ready for the runner. Bike is off, game on! Get ready for the runner, racing distance, no too much, she might get away. Here we go Monique is going for it, I’m going too, out of the lane, two wide besides Kate’s wheel, contact, holding my line, making Monique go the long way. Waaa, wheels, elbows, wheels, bars, stay up, stay strong, watch the wheel. One lap to go, Kate kicks, Monique is behind me, I kick. Half a lap, out of the lane, I kick again. OMG I’m on Kates hip, turn 3, still there, turn 4, still there, going to the line, I have the speed. Now! Throw! What!!!! I think I got it, the announcer thinks I got it, Cheer who cares. My name is at the top of the screen, no, it’s the start list. What, hells ya, my name is announced, I’m doing another lap, My name is at the top of the screen. So happy I’m crying. I did it. I got my jug of apple cider… and I’m Canadian National Champion in the Keirin.
Lessons- Carl is going to kill me, but giving up my spot on the motor bike might have been the winning move. Going into the race, I was aiming for a third silver. I figured, if I got a strong leadout I could hold off people coming around, and make them go the long way. I’ve scraped through in a few races, by basically sucking wheel. Not a glamourous or exciting way to race, but it’s a race for minor placings. I need to back myself more. I do belong there.
Sitting second wheel is a set up to be boxed in. I know, I love boxing people there, and I have the scars to prove it. If I missed Monique doing the runner at me, and didn’t push her wide, I would have been boxed, with her and Krista, and whoever else was on the train swamping me. It was a risk, but I reacted, and managed to not get boxed.
Throw your bike. I was doing moto paces with Carl when I first started training with him. When we looked back at the video, he said there was a major thing that needed fixing. I rolled off a dozen things I thought I did wrong, none were the right answers. He said I was giving up before then end of the effort, watch it again, I was. He said every effort, no matter how little, every race (even when coming last, throw for the line. Look stupid, but throw for the line. Best advice, I threw my bike so hard. I won by 0.0003 of a second.
That was the end of my championships.
So there was many happy tears, a huge hug for my dad, photos, the podium, a rather confused interview, and then the sleeping when I got home. Wait, no, there was no sleep. I was out of wifi, so during all this, I was unable to contact Ben or Carl to let them know I won. By the time I got to log on, my facebook had gone off with well wishes. To everyone out there, Thank you!
I’m off to Kelowna, then Canmore to visit my sisters. But you can see me and my National Suit in Action November 14th at the Melbourne Madidon, they will be doing keirins to make the omnium more exciting, and I can’t say no to my first chance to race in the suit.