What can I say? I am a glutton for punishment. I want to support the series, so I decided that I should race even if I was tired from the long drive and racing from the day before. However this week four was featuring Match Sprints. I got to the track early in order to give myself me ample time to setup, and avoid the traffic. It was going to be hot day, so having the tent was a must.
The format was realively simple. A qualifying flying 200m individual effort would create seeding times. From there various groups would be formed: Group A, Group B, and Group C, which would be further subdivided. I have only done a flying 200 in practice a few years before getting into track racing on a bike a friend loaned me. So this was going to be a relatively new experience.
I waited in the shade for most of the group to go before me. I did not want to bake in the sun while waiting for my turn. I kept the same gearing from T-Town (2019.06.22 – T-Town Masters & Rookies Week 2) a 49×14 (94.5 gear inch.) We had some wind on the course but I felt I was able to handle it with my rear disc wheel and front tri-spoke.
I set off as the next to last rider. The first lap is to wind up and get the legs going. Going into the bell lap, I kept my self high up the track in turn one, I got close to the rail. It gets a bit bumpy there so I was not going to ride at the edge. I had to keep holding back in turn two. My tendency is to drop down track early, which would probably ruin my time.
Finally, I got out of saddle and pointed the bike down tangentially towards the 200m line. The advice from Mark Wagner (and eventual winner of the event) was to not go completely into the sprinter lane here but to do so when entering turn three. The idea is to hit the 200m line at full speed, then hang on for dear life and try to keep it going to the finish line.
Turn three and turn four I felt like I was riding an angry bronco. The bike wanted to go everywhere while traversing the rough track. Exiting turn four I strayed up track a bit but there was no sense in correcting. I wanted the fastest time I could get. End result, 13.59 seconds.
This time was seventh fastest, and it put me in the Group A. I was now matched up with the pure sprinters.
- Match Sprint #1: Mark Wagner, John Jackson, and myself.
I was feeling quite outclassed here. But I was determined to give it my best. In the first lap, we paced each other slowly. Keeping track of two other riders is definitely more challenging then keeping an eye on just one. Luckily we did not engage in any track standing. In turn one, the others took off, and I reacted. Between turn two and three we were all three side by side but the other two were better able to get on top of the gear and I had to settle for a third place finish. In this race I hit my fastest speed in track racing, at 39.2mph and 138 on my cadence.
- Match Sprint #2: Andrew Brennan, John Jackson, Lester Lee, and myself.
Again I was feeling completely outgunned. For the second time I picked the first spot, but John happily took the lead from me before the 200m line. The race had the usual stalking until the sprint got going somewhere in turn two. Lester pulled out of his pedal on the back stretch, and I capitalized on that to get a third place finish, still a bit behind the other two.
- Match Sprint #3: Lester Lee, John Jackson, and myself.
I was tired of having to play catch up. I figured if I could stretch the race out into a longer race I could try to tire out the other two. Lester came to the rail with the addition of toe straps to prevent from pulling out of his pedals, so I knew I was going to have to fight even harder.
After the parade lap, at the end of turn one, I jumped out of saddle and shot down track. I stayed out of saddle trying to get on top of the gear as fast as I could. Close to the middle of the back straight I settled in. I did not hear anything, so I was hoping they were working hard to close the gap. Finally in turn three, John came around me. There was no way I could hold him off. Coming out turn four, Lester came up next to me. I did all I could to stay in front but in the end, not even a bike throw and a grunt saved me from loosing by half a wheel. I think the other two said I did surprise them with that attack.
All in all I tried to do what I could on tired legs, and a decently big gear which I am not yet used to. It was a good learning experience and good to hang out at the track with everyone. I ended the day in sixth overall. That put me in third place in the Masters 40+ and Men Category 4 in the overall standings for the series.
Thank you to James Lyman, Alan Atwood, Karl Dittebrant (I hope you are feeling better), Victor Chan (for the photos), the EMS crew, and of course all those who came out to race.