Euro Beat w/ Spencer

It has been roughly a month since my last post and so understandably a lot has taken place. I finished my time in France with a tough week that left me fatigued and I was more than glad to be returning home. August 12th was when I made my trip from Lyon to Frankfurt to Calgary and finally Edmonton. There was a strange déjà vu feeling to being back home as I slowly remembered the minor details of the environment surrounding me. I was not, however, done my season as the reason for my early return was to prepare for the Track National Championships in Burnaby a few weeks later. Roughly a week after my return I headed to the track for the first time this year for motor-pacing with Alex Stieda. This was an exciting endeavour and I was forced to find my track legs behind the motor-bike. A few more trips to the Edmonton velodrome helped me build on the good sensations of riding track. Before I knew it, I was on another plane, albeit a much shorter flight, to Abbotsford.

Upon arriving at the track I had mixed emotions as I was both excited and a little nervous. The last time I had been to Burnaby, some two or three years ago, I crashed twice with tires that wouldn’t stick to the wood. My first 10 minutes spinning around this year were a bit tense as I could remember the exact feeling of the tires slipping and getting caught by the grooves below. I had no issues this time and soon found myself very comfortable with the trac

k. The first event was the Elite Men’s 4 km Pursuit. I was somewhat unsure of what to expect with this as I had never before done a 4 km individual pursuit in training or racing. So I set a goal of what I thought would be a good time and planned to ride the splits accordingly. I started well, but after the first km, my split times were slower than I wanted and continued to slow until I was passed by the rider opposite me. Once passed, the gap opened to the mandatory 10 m and then stood still. Later I began to bring in the rider, Emile de Rosnay, although the CCA stated before the race that once a rider is passed, he cannot pass that rider back. I understand this is so no drafting occurs, but what are you supposed to do if you are gaining on them? So I almost rode into Emile, just as he was pulling up from finishing. I then accelerated the last lap and finished with a time of 5:07. I wasn’t thrilled with that, but I recognized the causes.

The next and final race in this event-light national championships was the Elite Men’s Points Race. This has always been my favourite track event and I was excited to see how I would fare. In the morning, around 9, they held two qualifying heats, each with 13 riders and 10 moving on. In my heat was Svein Tuft, just back from the Olympics. As the race started, I began to hurt substantially, but after a solo attack where I took points off the front, somehow my legs came around. I set into the aggressive intuition that sometimes happens to me in a points race and I knew where to be and what I had to do for points. I finished with a few good sprints, most just sitting behind Svein as no one could match his speed. I finished placed 6th, but only 10 finished, so everyone from our heat qualified. A full 12 hours later was the final with both Svein Tuft and Zach Bell. From the start I found myself hanging around at the back of the pack, not knowing quite what to do. I couldn’t match the speed of some of the others to get points in a sprint and was slightly under-geared. As Zach and Svein lapped the field for the first time, I moved up and became more aggressive. Large gaps would open and each time I would be able to close them without much trouble. I began to get back into that intuitive feeling. Soon I moved up under the strung out peloton after a chase had let up and found myself off the front. When I realised people were hesitating to chase, I accelerated hard. Within a few laps, two riders (Danielle Defrancheschi and Emile de Rosnay) had bridged up to me and we began to work efficiently together. We gained steadily on the peloton and contested two sprints between ourselves before coming back. At one point we were 40 m from lapping the field, but just then was our second sprint and we blew up soon thereafter. Back in the pack, I continued to ride aggressively, making a few more rather futile efforts to get away, but without any more points. The finish came fast and I really didn’t feel too spent until I got off my bike. I ended up 11th with 6 points and should we have taken a lap that would have been much better.

I left Burnaby feeling great and am glad I made the effort to race there. My season is now over and with the excitement of the track in my blood, it has ended differently. Instead of ending with my return from Europe, spent mentally and physically from a long and demanding season, I ended wanting more. I am sad to be missing the Cyclo-Cross season, but I feel better knowing I will recover fully to take on a new season in a couple of months. I am also back at the U of A for another fall semester which will be rejuvenating in itself.

In the next couple of weeks I will do my final Bike Alberta post of the season. I am planning on tackling a summary of my time in Europe packed with all the gritty details.

-Spencer

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