International competition, oh my
5 days in an insulated-from-reality-bubble. Wake up, go to velodrome (via shops) - assist Hilton, assist Sean Eadie, push riders, council riders, congratulate/commiserate riders. 12-14 hours later, go back to motel, take 3 hours to unwire enough to get some sleep, repeat ...
My first taste of real international elite competition and I'm hooked. Sprint camp was one thing, this was a step up. In a way it was more of the same, we had a lot more support - mechanics (Ian, Gary, Tony, thank you!), to look after all the bikes, wheel changes etc, support staff to handle all the odd jobs (Josh, Emily, thankyou! you guys were great). Hilton ran the warmups from his throne in the pits and we both looked after the riders during racing. We had a squad of 7 core riders and a few we helped out, at some points we were over-supplied with people to help, at other times there wasn't enough of us. We did good things, we made mistakes, we learned. We learned and we learned ..
Our sprint guys did very well, we got some medals to bring home and everyone learned a lot. A highlight was seeing Imogen and Taylah racing in the Keirin final with Anna Meares (and Immy's ride to qualify for it, glued to Anna's wheel!), Nathan's storming first lap in his team sprint and Jaron's jammed in the middle of a 4 wide sandwich in the J19 keirin final. As a first year senior Nath was always going to be behind the 8 ball, but he rode well and has a good picture now of where he has to be (and he can be!).
Some talent to watch out for, a Kiwi girl, Stephanie McKenzie. She won the J19 500m and the sprint, and her 500m start was the best 500m start I've ever seen from a girl. Girl's don't rattle the start gate, Steph did .. Wow. Watch for this one in the not too distant future. Guess what her background is? Gymnastics (explosive power and strength) and Olympic weightlifting. Is there something in this "get the girls strong" idea after all? Anna didn't ride the 500, but any time you get to see her racing is great, she won the sprint and the keirin in the style that we've come to expect. She's a class above the rest at the moment. The world cup will be interesting indeed.
I'm not going to fill this page with details, 5 days of living and working in a surreal bubble has fried my head and I'm still catching up on sleep, but suffice to say it was an amazing experience and a lot of good will come of it. I have a tentative agreement now to be able to do over to the AIS for a couple of weeks and hold Gary West's stop watches etc (learning, learning ...) at a date to be determined and Sean Eadie and I did a little work on The Book. Hilts and Josh (NTID manager) and I had a meeting about how my work with Hilts is going and I got some good constructive critism, there's a few things I need to really concentrate on which is good.
In the mean time, It's round 3 this coming Sunday. Hrm, I think I've been on a track bike once since round 2? If I'm lucky ... I don't think I'll be riding any PB's! heh ...