Racing is blurry. The brain is sloshing around in a sea of exhasution, coffee, sangria and seafood. Racing has ended, they sponsors have been smiled at, the promoters wined and dined us and generally, all is well.
Beginning from the beginning, the sprints started horribly.
Maybe that´s not the beginning.
The beginning is like this. A Euro Grand Prix is something else. Certainly bigger and cooler than anything I´ve ever done before. The racing featured riders from the Netherlands, England, Scotland, Russia, Spain, Catalunya (they don´t like to be called Spaniards), Switzerland, Germany and probably a few others I´m forgeting. Most riders were from their national "B" or "development" teams save for the Spanish who brought a few big guns for the home crowd. All in all it was a bit wild to be on the line for a keirin with all those national jerseys instead of the local club teams. But anyway. About those sprints.
With the perfect equipment and the perfect warmup, it just did not come together. Slapped on a 94, rolled up and did a perfect windup, but the legs would not fire. Rolled in with a time almost a second slower than I´ve been doing in the last few weeks. Pathetic really. Put me near the bottom of the seeding list, but at least I was in. First ride: Jose Escuredo. Olympic medalist and current world cup baddass Jose Escuredo. To my credit, I rode smart but was just overwhelmed in the drag race. This put me in the rep round which went almost as well. The whole time I think I´m riding fairly aggressive rounds and Des tells my I´m riding like a passive idiot. "Make a diversion" he says. "Hook someone, if the officials like you they won´t see anything." When all was said and done, I finished 10th, and on to the Keirin.
Keirin was considerably more fun. The first 2 rounds ran directly after the sprint rounds on Saturday. This was new. I'm already feeling beat from my sprint humiliation and I´m getting called up for another go. Damn. To compensate for my crappy legs I put on a bigger gear and put on some white gloves. Turned out to be the magic pill. First round felt like a rugby match. I heeded Des´ and Kacala´s advice and rode like the lanes were mere suggestions. Took me back to the days of Abers´ Grasstrack Gauntlet From Hell. Nothing but fur flying, wheels scraping and me managing to scrape across the line first. In the second round I ended up again with Escuredo, the top seeded Russian, Theo Bos´ brother Patrick, his sneaky-ass Dutch teammate Yondi, and the biggest Catalunyan the world has ever seen. As the motor came off, Bos tried to come around with what I assumed was Yondi on his wheel. I immediately right turned into Bos´s front wheel (shredding my right shoe cover and part of my shoe) then sharply left turned to put the charging russian on the apron. Meanwhile Escuredo wound up a supersonic jump, and flew around with the Catalunyan on his wheel. Coming onto the home straight I was a solid third, with three through to the gold medal final. Then (remeniscent of a pink flash I saw at AVC) an orange Dutch flash named Yondi pipped me at the line for 3rd. Aparently he had watched the whole thing from the back and afterward told me "I think I shit myself twice before I could get close enough to pass you."
Anyway. The 6-12 final was my favorite ride of the weekend. It was somewhere near our 11th hour of track time, I was dead tired but somehow managed to feel magical for 7 laps. The highlights: Kneed the Russian´s handlebar to get the wheel I wanted, flicked Bos so hard he squealed (we laughed about it later) and dropped everyone to get to the line first. Sure it was only for 6th, but for my first European Gran Prix, I´m happy.
Team sprint. Ouch. Rode third. Hurt-box. Rode with one of the Dutch, who tried to talk his way out of it when he saw Blatchy and I start in warmups. All ended well though. I don´t remember anything past the first lap. Think I woke up with the announcer telling the crowd (in rapid-fire spanish) that we were third. Great way to end the tourney: standing on a podium with a trophy and flowers. With a gingerheaded Dutchman showing his teammate the international symbol of the full moon. What a bunch of tweaks.
2 years ago