I had to skip last week due to illness. This year has been a bad year for me on health.
Last night I was still experimenting with my 49-15 on fresh legs. The Cat 5 field had close to twenty riders present, including many young kids (17+.) Still kids to me.
First race of the evening was a 9 laps Points Race.
Points Race – Sprints every 3 laps; 5, 3, 2, and 1 point awarded for top 4 in each sprint. Riders gaining laps on the designated field will earn 20 pts; riders losing laps on the designated field will lose 20 pts. Ties in points are broken by finish of last sprint.
These are definitely not my forté. Having to sprint over and over again in a race blows me up. Things got quick during the points laps, I found it very hard to breathe as my throat was completely parched. I focused on staying with the main group, and treated the race more as a warmup.
Second race was the dreaded one lap Chariot race qualification race.
Chariot – 1 lap standing start race. Holders required. Holders may push the rider at the start but may not cross the finish line of their own free will. If heats are required, they will qualify a number of riders to be announced by the start for each heat, with the final being held at a time to be determined by the race promoter. The top two from the qualifying round get to move on to the final round.
Unbeknownst to me a gentleman named James Lyman ended up being my holder/pusher. He gave me some sound advice and helped get me set up with the pedal in a good starting position. As the whistle blew, I stood and pushed down hard and I tried to get myself up to speed. In turn two, I was in fourth position. I looked down track and it was clear, so I pushed the bike down track in order to use the banking to accelerate onto the back stretch. I came up on the third placed guy entering turn three. He started to veer into me so I had to correct over towards my right, robbing me of some acceleration.
In turn three I was maxed out turning the pedals over at about 135 rotations a minute. In turn four, I saw the second placed guy just ahead of me and thought I had a shot at him. I tried to keep my intensity up, but coming out of turn four, I was starting to go cross eyed. Entering the straight, I felt the bike start to wiggle and I had to use as much willpower as I could muster to keep the bike from veering off the line.
I now entered tunnel vision land, and the start finish line looked all crooked and wavy. For something so close it was so teasingly far away. The only thoughts going through my head was to keep the bike straight and pedal as fast as I could. I tried to throw the bike across the line but in my haze I have no idea what happened. In the end I missed qualifying for the final by a few inches. Even the judges said it was very close. This was my best race of the night, and most painful/fun I had. The advice from Mr. Lyman paid off.
Third race was a six lap scratch race.
Scratch – Race runs the determined number of laps; top 5 taken at the finish.
With so many riders in our group, I decided to try to race this one up track. I figured there would be a lot of traffic down track, and I didn’t want to get boxed in. As it was I still got boxed in a few times. By this point I had little left in my legs, so when the race heated up in the closing laps, all I could do was to just try to stay in the mid section of the race and finish as best as I could.
Things I’m debating.
I have enough races to move up to Cat 4. Is it worth it?
Should I go up to the 50-15 gear combo?
In this last point, I realize that having someone at the track that’s a good coach is priceless. Not that I discount the advice of other riders, but what’s best for one rider is not always best for everyone else. Having someone who can help me figure out how to best approach the races based on how I ride, before the race, and then to discuss immediately after the race is a great asset. Right now I’m mostly trying to figure all this out on my own, and at times I struggle. I do realize that I can’t be good at all events, and concentrating on the ones I am more suited for is what I need to do, but still, I’d like to approach things with better laid down plans.