Finally I am back to track racing. Labor Day was the last time I raced track. So it has been a while. Over the winter, after the roller races, I had Greg over at Kreb Cycle perform a proper bike fit specific to my track bike in order to better dial in my racing position. I had asked about this during the 2018 season, and it was strongly suggested that I wait until the off season and not make any radical changes during the racing season.
Unfortunately I was only able to ride the bike with the new fit on my rollers over the winter. I was constantly thwarted every time I tried to plan a trip over to the track to test the fit and get some track laps in my legs.
Due to personal commitments I am not able to make the Six Days of Kissena races. So, the first Twilight race was going to be a shock to the system. I arrived early, and I was first to pick up my number at registration. Just like last year, I was able to bag a zero, zero number. Last year I raced most of the season as a Category five with number 400. I had decent luck with that number so I was happy to get number 800 in the Men Category four field.
Additionally I like the fact that these are cloth numbers, and not paper/tyvek. Since I get to keep the same number for the entire series, and when I finally get my new Skin-Suit, I plan to pin it and leave it there all season. I did the same thing last year, and since it is a cloth number, I wash the Skin-Suit and number all together.
Over the weekend I had a long conversation with James Lyman regarding what gearing I should use. In the end it was determined that I should probably run a 51×15 (91.8 gear inches) at Kissena. I am not a masher, so hopefully that would provide me a good balance between top end spin, and acceleration. It is also early season, so my legs have to re adapt.
Before the race, I pinned up, and then got on track for a good warmup/bike test. My legs felt a bit tired, but my position felt good. I like the fact that my stem is now set at 0 degrees, aka flat. I also performed a few hard accelerations to try to get the cobwebs out of the legs. I was also rocking my brand new SIDI Wire Push Speedplay in white. At six thirty in the evening, the races were underway. We were going to race the following in the Men Category four field:
- Race #1: 6 Lap Scratch: Race runs the determined number of laps; top 5 taken at the finish.
- Race #2: 9 Lap Win & Out: First sprint at 6 to go; winner of that sprint wins the race and may retire. Second sprint at 3 to go, winner of that sprint is 2nd place in the race and may retire. Remaining riders sprint at the finish for 3rd place on.
- Race # 3: 4 Lap Point-a-Lap: Every lap the first rider scores 1 point; the final lap scores 2 and 1 points.
Our field was filled with a large contingency of Star Track and Cuevas Juniors, age 15-18, and about four or five “adults.”
Once the first race was underway, the Star Track army decided to try to blow the field up. One rider would launch an attack and when we, the field, closed the gap, another Star Track kid would launch another attack. This repeated through out most of the race. The yo-yo nature of the accelerations were inflicting significant damage on the group. I was in crisis two laps in. I decided to try to smooth things out and sit on the back and try to be smoother avoiding harsh accelerations over and over again, and letting the others do the work of bringing back the attack. Unfortunately this put me in a very poor position and by the end I was nowhere near the front to challenge for the top five positions. I hit a heart rate of 181, thus I know I was pretty much in the anaerobic red zone. Also, us “old farts,” were not organized enough to try to neutralize their attacks.
The second race started out more or less like the first. I had no chance of contesting the first and second place finish sprints. But, once the second place was determined, I think three of us “adults” got on the front and set a fast tempo pace. This made me a happier racer. The idea was to try and prevent any more surges from the kids. I stayed sheltered until the bell lap. On the back stretch the wheel in front of me was slowing so I figured this was my opportunity. I jumped and tried to go full gas from there. Entering turn three at about thirty miles per hour, another kid came up next to me, then got out of saddle, and sprinted away from me as if I was standing still. Talk about feeling demoralized. However, I didn’t give up. I kept going as hard as I could, and in the end, I held off another racer and managed a fourth place finish.
I forgot to start my Garmin for the third and final race. Having blown myself in the second race, I had nothing in the third race. I rode as hard as I could but in the end I finished out of the omnium points.
Everything tallied up, I placed sixth in the Omnium. It definitely was a shock to my system. But, I think I am satisfied that I accomplished my goals. I got right back into racing track on the single speed fixed gear bike with no brakes without issue. And I felt quite comfortable doing so. I was worried that being out of practice I would be all over the place. I was pleasantly surprised that I got a placing in the Omnium.
Finally my bike fit felt good except one issue. During the fit, we tilted my saddle down a small amount in order to get my pelvis to rotate, and get some more comfort in my upper back. I do not think that is going to work at Kissena. Kissena is a very bumpy track and every time I hit one of those bumps I slide too far forward. Maybe on a smooth track like T-Town that would not be an issue. I think for next week I will level the saddle back out and see how that goes.