When it comes to racing bikes, I'm a greenhorn, a rookie, a newbie, a noob. I've raced just five times so far.

I know that people race for seasons and seasons before they get to race Keirin-style. So tonight when I found myself at the line, looking at the bright red motor bike that would pace us out and drawing a number out of a bag for my starting position, I first thought: this is so rad! I can't believe I get to do this! And then I thought: EEK! This is really different than anything I've tried before. How exactly am I going to do this?

Keirin races have standing starts. Left foot or right foot in front? How do I balance and all that? This was my first standing start, and luckily an experienced racer, Brean, was there to tell me what to do and hold me up (and help me shift my feet and weight around a bit---thanks!)

I lucked into the second starting position, so there was only one person between me and the motor bike. When the gun went off I went right in for the sweet spot directly behind it, where the draft is the best. (Thanks to Brean also for the hefty push that helped me get there.)

There I was---close enough behind the motor bike to read the print on the tiny plate above the rear wheel that says "aim here." As we went around, the pace bike increased in speed. We were going at a pretty good clip by the time it pulled off with one lap to go.

In the final lap, I thought: if I could just hold this front position, I just might win this thing.

Then coming out of the last turn, the whole rest of the heat (all three of 'em!) passed me by.

When it comes to racing, I'm a noob. My conditioning level leaves a bit to be desired and I pretty much don't know jack about what's going on half the time.
But as a noob, every day at the track brings an introduction to something awesome: a new style of racing, a different skill, words to shout in other languages (tonight I learned that "szybciej" means "faster," in Polish) and more allies in the bike world to help me along.

My results for the night: 3rd in the scratch race, 4th in Keirin, and 4th in a points race. Nothing stellar, but I feel like I'm getting off to a decent start.

 -Sarah Lu