It was announced that this event would be a Keirin.
Keirin (競輪 / ケイリン, [keːɾiɴ]) – literally “racing cycle” – is a form of motor-paced cycle racing in which track cyclists sprint for victory following a speed-controlled start behind a motorized or non-motorized pacer. It was developed in Japan around 1948 for gambling purposes and became an official event at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keirin.)
So the format of the race was going to be as follows. We were all going to do a flying 200m effort to get a seeding time. Once all the times were recorded, Alan Atwood would create three groups, A, B, C, based on the order of the times. The lower group would race first.
The six riders from each group would draw sticks to determine the start order at the rail. A derny, or in our case a scooter, would pace us for two laps. We were not allowed to shift positions during the first lap, but after that we could. Also, any rider overlapping his front wheel with the rear wheel of the scooter would be disqualified.
The derny would gradually increase the speed to about 29mph and, after two paced laps, the scooter would pull off and we then have a two lap scratch race to contest.
We would race three heats, but, after each heat, the lowest place rider would drop back to the lower group, and the top placed rider from a lower group would graduate to the faster group.
I was quite tired, having gotten home at seven in the evening the day before, but I was keen on racing this event since I had never done so before. Due to high temperatures, the race was moved to nine in the morning, further adding to my fatigue, since I had to get up early again. I choose to go with a bigger gear. I wanted to do well on the Flying 200m, I wanted to better my time from last month.
I performed my Flying 200m when about half the other riders had gone. I was feeling quite good about it. In the first lap, I gradually worked my speed up, and drifted up track on the less steep sections. I felt that being higher up coming out of turn four would give me a good boost as it drops down onto the straight. I was a few feet from the rail by then, so the uphill into turn one would be less pronounced. In turn one and two, I stayed as close to the rail as I felt comfortable. The track is a bit sketchy up there.
Coming out of turn two, when I found “the crack” in the surface I gritted my teeth groaned as I got out of the saddle, pointed the bike down the slope and started to finish my wind up. I did not go directly down to the sprinters lane. Instead I kept myself a few feet from the sprinters lane when I reached the 200m line. The reason for this is that when you enter turn three, which is still ten meters or so from the 200m line, you can get another bit of drop which can help maintain the top speed and maybe even get a final boost.
In turn three I felt I was flying. I was doing everything I could to hold the bike through the bumpy surface, while trying to maintain my speed. At the finish line I threw the bike with a good old grunt. I posted a time of 13.20. My last time was 13.59. So I achieved my goal. I tied Ben Noble, and, this put me in fifth place, basically square in the A group. Of course Mark Wagner went off and embarrassed all of us with a time of 12.34. During my 200m, I hit a maximum cadence of 142, and a speed of 36.1mph.
Keirin: Group A: Heat 1
Our first group was comprised of Mark Wagner, John Jackson, Yves Allemann, Ben Noble, John Hale, and myself. I drew stick number three, so I would be starting on the rail in third place.
It was quite interesting being paced by the scooter. At the start I would put in too much power to get on the wheel in front only to discover the speed was too fast, and had to slow up so I would not rub wheels with the rider in front of me. The group stayed quite cool until the derny pulled off. We had some jockeying for positioning but everything was going to come down to the last lap. I put myself in a bad place behind John Jackson in the sprinters lane. Coming out of turn four on the final lap, he moved up track unsettling a lot of us. Back sprinting for the final seventy meters, I was hoping to keep myself in front of Ben and Yves, but then John slowed up at the finish line causing me to slow up so I would not run into him.
After the heat, the officials and I had a friendly chat with John about holding his line once the sprint is engaged, and to pedal past the finish line. A fifth place finish for me and John Hale was relegated to group B since he finished sixth.
Keirin: Group A: Heat 2
Our group was now made up of Mark Wagner, Terrence Chioffi (TC), Ben Noble, John Jackson, Yves Allemann, and my self. I drew stick number four.
At the start of the race I was feeling quite crappy. But, once the scooter pulled off and things were going I felt much better. Maybe the air movement was helping me cool off. This race went more or less like the last. I was fully expecting a surge in the last lap from Mark and TC. Once things got real, I was able to get myself into a third place position while holding off Ben Noble.
I am a bit sad that I did not get my Garmin to record this race, I wanted to see how my data looked after my perceived monster effort.
Keirin: Group A: Heat 3
Our group was now made up of Mark Wagner, Terrence Chioffi (TC), Ben Noble, John Jackson, Jason Baker, and myself. I drew stick number six.
TC and Mark ended up playing with each other with two laps to go. In turn one in the final lap, John started to fade. He pulled slightly up track just outside of the sprinters lane. At the same time Jason Baker went up track to go around John. I saw the opportunity, and I ducked down track using the slope to get on top of my gear. I gave it all I had, and was able to hold off Jason to finish once again in third.
Despite the oppressive heat, I had a good time. I surprised myself in being a strong presence in the A group. I also raced a 50×14 (96.5 gear inch.) I think that was more or less the prefect gear for this race at Kissena. There is no way I can push something that big for longer races, but for these short races, especially with the advantage of the draft from the scooter, I think I made the right choice.