I am finally back racing track. I got back from Italy last Tuesday and being jet-lagged I decided to apprentice as AJ (Assistant Judge) for the Wednesday night instead of trying to race. I also decided to apprentice as AR (Assistant Referee) for the weekend track race series on Sunday.
For week five, the Men’s Category 4 had the following races scheduled:
- Race #1: 7 Lap Tempo: Every lap the first two riders score 2 and 1 points respectively; the final lap scores 3, 2, and 1 point.
- Race #2: 5 Lap Scratch: Race runs the determined number of laps; top 5 taken at the finish.
- Race #3: Miss & Out: Starting at end of lap 2 the last rider across is eliminated (as judged by the trailing edge of the rear wheel) and must withdraw from the race. When a pre-determined amount of riders remain (to be announced on the rail), riders get one free lap, a bell, and next lap determines the places in the race (as judged by the leading edge of the front wheel).
I got to the track early enough to get setup and get a good ride in to warm up even though it was quite warm. I was surprised to see that my filed was over double in size from the week before. Over the weekend I finally got to pick up the clothing for my current team, Kissena Cycling Club, although I did not get my skin suit. So I am finally able to race in my full kit. I even found socks to match.
In the first race I wanted to get some points. After the first lap, Paul Coluccio, my friend, got close to the front and set a good tempo up there. I shadowed him. He is one of the best wheels to be on. Coming around for what I believe was the second set of points, I managed a second place giving myself one point. Unfortunately, I felt gassed and unable to respond and grab anymore points for the rest of the race. I know I have to work on my positioning, and learn to stay out of the wind when it is not necessary.
I feel I really botched the second race up. Once again closing into the final laps of the race, with everyone still together, I was taking in too much wind. I tend to stay more up track so I do not get boxed in on the bottom. I find it gives me more room to move around, even though I have to cover more distance. Although our track is not steeply banked, the added potential energy when riding higher up is a bit of a bonus. However, close to the end I parked myself behind rider 805, I believe Frederico Levy on NYU team, and he started to fade. Apparently he had been messing around on the front at the start of the race, and he probably had run out of steam. I now had to get around him and make up ground. Going into the bell lap a few guys up front really ramped up the pace and all I could do was hold on and limit the damage.
Race number three is my least favorite of them all. The stress of being eliminated and being pipped right at the line is unsettling. I was going into this race with no confidence. Our first full lap was neutral, basically they did not start pulling until two laps in. They were going to pull until five competitors remained. In this race there is a lot of movement and surging from everyone trying not to be eliminated. My friend Paul got on the front for a lot of the race and set a good fast tempo with some surges to keep the pack at bay. I did what I was not supposed to do and race this race from the back. That meant taking wind at times, and surging at the finish line in order to get the trailing edge of my back wheel ahead of the others. I did try to stay up track to give me the room to come around those situated below me.
This technique can backfire but this time I was pulling it off. With sheer luck, I keep surviving the eliminations. A couple of times it was very close for comfort. After many laps and countless eliminations, I tried to keep track of how many of us remained. Once we were down to six, I knew we were on our last elimination. In turn three, I did not think I had the legs to survive this last one, and I almost gave up. But the spring shot effect of coming out of turn four gave me the momentum I needed to surge and get past Paul, who made a mistake in his positioning.
With him bowing out, it was now down to five of us. At this point I was struggling to hold onto the wheels in front of me. And as predicted, with the bell ringing, the group ahead surged and I had no legs to respond. I kept it together for a fifth place finish.
All in all an okay night of racing for me. I got the usual Track Hack from all the pollen present in the air. I also found a bent spoke in my rear wheel. I was told to leave it alone and deal with it when it finally pops. We will see. Maybe it is time to bring out the rear disk wheel and the front tri-spoke.