Riding in Circles in Beijing
By Greta Neimanas | Sep 10, 2008
Race name: 2008 Paralympics
Race date: Wednesday, Sep 10, 2008
All right, because this trip would be WAY too long to put into one report, I'll break it up. First is the track, which is absolutely gorgeous. 250m, 46° banking, Siberian Pine surface. It's pretty much the same shape as LA, but with smoother transitions, for those of you that have ridden LA. The shape itself isn't exactly my favorite- I prefer a more rounded track- but they keep it at about 85°F so it's fast. And everybody's on form so the times are even faster.
The first race was the 500 which isn't my favorite race, but I do it anyway. I got out of the gate clean, and wound it up through turn four, sat down and kept the legs going for another lap. I didn't quite get everything out of it during the first lap, I think I could've gone to a slightly larger gear to have more to bite into on the first lap. I had a good time, it was the same as a World Cup I did in May under similar conditions so I was happy. My time put me third fastest overall which is what I wanted. After the factor I finished 8th.
I've done a lot of work on my pursuit, training obviously, position, and metal focus during the race itself. Four minutes of agony is a long time to stay focused. We got the start lists on the bus, and I'm paired up against Sarah Storey from Great Britain who's the World Record holder, and breaks people's legs off and beats you with them. So, I was a little intimidated to say the least. After I thought about it more, I realized it was actually a good situation. Unless she shit the bed, she was guaranteed to catch me, and it would probably happen seven laps in- at my weakest point. After that, I could chase her like an angry dog. I had a good warm up, and talked with my coach about schedule and our "game plan". I wanted to ride a 3:58.0 schedule which would be a best time for me, and the Paralympic single bike American 3k record. I started out hot, like always, and right at 6 laps in, I started to lose it and fall off schedule. But here she comes to save the day! Sarah blew past me like a train 7 laps in, and just like we planned, it gave me that little extra bit of motivation and I was able to chase as much as my delirious self could. I came across the line, and heard my time- 3:57.9 it was like I'd just won a freakin medal, I was so happy. Going into it, I knew I wouldn't win, but I wanted the American Record, and to beat my teammates that do the 3k. I did both, and in the process I had the second fastest time which had never happened. The podium usually looks like this- Sarah, Chinese girl, then either China again, myself or Australia. Not anymore. After times were factored, I finished 5th, one spot shy of the medal rounds. Really though, it's ok, because then I could go pack my bike, and sit in the stands to watch the rest of the racing. I'd never screamed so loud before. We had two people riding for gold (in the two different class groups) and Sarah rode an Olympic top 6 time- 3:36.6 which happens to be the women's tandem world record. Within 5 hours, the world record dropped 10 seconds. It was the most amazing ride I'd ever seen. Now making the team next year just got a little bit harder.
With 1.3 billion people in a country, it's pretty easy to get huge crowds. Every seat at the track was filled, and there were people shoulder to shoulder at the top in the standing room sections. Everyone was cheering Jai Oh (It's spelled completely differently in Chinese, but there's and "X" in it somewhere so I'm not even going to try) which basically means "Cheer! Cheer!" It's the only cheer they have, and if I hear it anymore, I might have a stroke. But, it was awesome to hear so many people cheering, and to have them come to see US compete is really something special. I put on the best show I could for them.