Last night was another great night of racing for the ABD women's team at the Ed Rudolph velodrome up in Northbrook, featuring the Madison as the main event in session 2 of the evening. The 1st session was a point-a-lap (1 point only for first place), and the 3rd and final session was a scratch race --descriptions of these races can be found here; http://www.northbrookvelodrome.org/information/glossary-of-racing-terms/
In the point-a-lap race, things got off to a bit of a shaky start for team ABD as the girls are still trying to get "in sync" with each others racing style to race as a team having only formed this year. It was a 10 lap race and in the second lap Elena was aggressive and sprinted for a point with Kristen on her wheel. Kristen tried her best to sweep for Elena, but the rest of the field could sense what she was trying to do and started to charge around Kristen between turns 3 &4. Kristen had no choice but to try to get the point -not to beat Elena, but to keep points from the opposition. This had the unfortunately secondary effect of catching Elena in a bad place, as she had started sprinting nearly a full lap earlier, and got a bit gaped while she fought to catch her breath.
She was still a bit stunned for the next couple of laps, finding herself having to chase back on after every sprint while Kristen was mixing it up at the front, but then amazingly came around and found her second wind. Unfortunately by this time it was mathematically impossible for her to get a high placing, but rather the throwing in the towel --which most people would have done-- she instantly switched into "selfless team mate" mode for Kristen, by pulling back gaps and leading Kristen out, culminating in dramatic finish for the team as with 3 laps to Kristen was in a 3-way tie for 1st place, with Wisconsin powerhouse Beth Engwis, team (?) and another rider -who's name escapes me right now (I must do a better job of remembering names). Local elite rider Francine Haas, Alberto's sports, got off in a dangerous solo break at this picking up a point with Beth chasing -also with a gap. It didn't look good for Kristen, but in an impressive display of raw speed and team work Elena set a blistering pace for 2 laps with Kristen glued to her wheel. Elena single-handedly reeled in BOTH Francine and Beth(?) and launched Kristen for the win in the final lap and secured the overall! It was an extremely exciting and concerted performance by both of them! That was a nail biter of a race ladies!
Next up was the Madison -20 laps with sprints every 5. For those of you who know and or have raced this event, probably the biggest factor for success is just pure experience and skill (more info on the Madison at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madison_(cycling) ) You could easily tell Elena knew what she was doing, but this was Kristen's first time. The women's field consisted of 5 teams, including the super-duo composite team of Val Brostrom, team BTN, and Beth Engwis, team (?) who are both very experienced track racers, not to mention super-fast, making them a extremely tough team to beat for sure in this event.
Another team of note was Chicago Cuttin Crew's -or CCC from her on, Dahpne Karagianis, and her team mate (?)-again, I have to start remembering names better- tried to catch everyone napping at the start of the race with a first lap blitz, and it worked giving them an instant and dangerous gap, this put even the super team of Val and Beth in a bit of trouble as it took them several laps to reel themselves back up to team CCC. These girls where racing!
Again, experience and skill being so critical in this event saw team CCC miss an exchange which Val took immediate advantage of due to her extensive race savvy which now got her and Beth off on their own. Meanwhile Kristen and Elena were having a bit of trouble while Kristen became more comfortable with high-speed exchanges. It seemed for awhile they were destined for 3rd place, but miraculously started to get into a rhythm in the second half of the race. Lap after lap they slowly close on team CCC who were now showing signs of fatigue from their blazing first laps.
With every exchange Kristen's confidence grew, and you could actually see Elena and her pick up speed. They blew past the visibly exhausted team CCC which now put them in 2nd place, and started to close on the super team of Val and Beth who by now had won 3 of the 4 sprints to lock up 1st place. It's hard to say if Elena and Kristen, actually caught and beat Val and Beth in the final sprint or if Val and Beth sat-up knowing they had won the already won the race and didn't need to contest the last sprint (probably the latter), but it can be said that if the race was a bit longer, or Kristen had more experience Madison racing they would have given Val and Beth a run for their money.
I have to reiterate that team CCC do need to get recognition and mad props for their gutsy early race tactics that nearly worked. Keep at it girls, as sometime when you roll the dice like that they come up in your favor, but also racing like that makes it so much more exciting to watch!
I don't mean to ignore the other 2 teams in this race, but the Madison can be confusing to keep track of, and I was having a hard time just keeping track of the top 3 teams. I know for a fact that Madison racing for the women's field is relatively new to Northbrook and it takes a while to figure it out, and I'm sure that is what the other 2 teams were doing, so please ladies keep racing it as it is super fun to watch and participate in!
Directly right after the Madison, Kristen jumped in with the master men in their scratch race, but unfortunately I had to leave at that point and couldn't see how she finished. I also believe Kristen had to leave right after the master's race and couldn't stick around to race with Elena in the 3rd session scratch race so we'll have to hear from her how it went.
--This just in-- After a tough race of countering attacks on her own in the last session's scratch race, Elena sprinted for the win but a slight miss-timing on her part saw her just getting edge out to take 2nd! -Will have to wait for the results to see who else rounded out the top 3.
No word from Kristen yet on the Master's race, but I know she held her own despite jumping right into it with no break from the previous race.
On a side note, I have to say that the women's racing at Northbrook this year has really taken off this year. The fields are surprisingly large and these gals are getting fast! I highly recommend that if anyone who's reading this hasn't made it up to at least watch, if not race at Northbrook on Thursday nights should really try to do so as you won't be disappointed! A good time is had by all!
Again please forgive me if I forgot the names of some the riders in this report, or if I am a little off on my facts, as I'm feeling under the weather with a bad head cold so I was kind of foggy-headed last night and tried my best to keep track of everything.