A Night on the Oval

8 06 2011

Recycler Ian reports on a Wednesday night at the Marymoor velodrome:

The bus ride was boring, traffic sucked, but the bus driver remembered me and asked about racing – that’s a plus, eh?
Marymoor velodrome was chilly & windy (out of the south – finish into a headwind, backstretch as a tailwind). I’ve got to remember to bring more warm clothes for between races & waiting around.

#1: Points Race
In the ‘A’ group, we were the last of 4 groups to go, and my legs were a bit cold… I figured I’d see what the pace was as it was my first time in the fast group. On the first lap, the front 5 guys hit out HARD on the mid-back stretch… I was surprised by the speed, and really wasn’t ready for it. I was 6 guys back, and everything splintered within the next 150m. The group was in 1s & 2s – and with big gaps between, I wasn’t anywhere close to the front. I gathered legs, passed two guys on the finishing stretch (into the wind, but I was afraid the race was riding away.) At that point – going into T1 sitting on a steady wheel, 3 guys up the road (a single and a pair) – I got my wits about me. I rode the next lap behind a big guy (great draft) that I know, keeping the gap to the front of the field steady.
Lap 3(to go): I was planning on making a move this lap, but I hadn’t been thinking it would be from this far back. The big guy in front of me pulled hard for  half a lap and made up some ground; then I came around him, and he blew up. Oh well, no reason to hold back now. Hit the gas in turn 3, I looked up the road to see the 3 guys up front were all riding by themselves now – the solo guy was going backwards, the pair was going well, but had broken up. I passed one guy on the finishing straight. Now I had two guys left to catch, and one lap to do it if I wanted to win.
Lap 2 (to go): I blow right by one guy in turn two, straight up ran away from him in the tailwind… really trucking now. The leader is out there still, I have no idea on the point count, since I couldn’t tell who got what in the first two laps… just race hard! I come up to the leader in the headwind section of the finish straight, wind it up hard, I take the sprint.
Last Lap: I still have no idea how the points stand – gotta go or they’ll catch me. Gotta go or they’ll kill me. Gotta dig deeper, this hurts. Check under the arm, on the back stretch, got a gap. Check under the arm, in T3, got a gap, check under the arm coming out of T4…. Huuuuuge gap. Pedal it in.
I check with the ref – 4 guys with one point, me with two.

#2: Scratch race.
Phil Miller: “Well, no reason for this to be boring, there’re a lot of you, tonight’s been boring in all the other fields – you guys should try racing this one.” Combining the fields puts 14 guys on the track… much more entertaining. I don’t like the odds of me beating this many guys in one big sprint when I’m almost the smallest guy here… it’s time to scheme and make it interesting.
Two guys had talked to me after the first race about spicing up the second race… “if you guys are fast enough to make it happen, I’ll be there”.
Lap 3: I go high in T2 and come down like a rocketship – every single guy chases… drat. I ease (probably not the wise choice, but the whole field was coming, and I didn’t like my odds of holding them off for 3 more laps)… I’m back in the field at T2. I’m 3 wheels back going into the sprint, the surge goes, the counter comes around the top and I’m boxed behind a guy with no jump… At least I got the fans in the seats cheering with the attack earlier…. Shouldn’t have gone so soon, shouldn’t have eased… oh well, now I know.  Problematically, now THEY all know.

#3: 4×3, 12 laps.
Start this thing out right: combined fields, 15 guys. I’m feeling decent, it’s time to ride. We start off, the pace is decent, the group stays together through the first sprint… the big guys are pushing the first 3 laps really fast; I’ll take that any day 🙂
Lap 9: I stay out of trouble, but near the front in case someone else wants to go race. A strong-looking guy lurches off the front. The field surges and catches him right by the S/F line
Lap 8: As we go into T1, the guys who worked for the catch slow a bit and I counter … HARD. No one else is there, so I dig in and get low. “You sure did it this time, 2 laps solo for a few points? Sheesh, bright move there, genius boy… better dig harder” So I dig, and dig, and keep those doggies rolling.
Lap 7: get my points. The front group is within 30 yards & closing, enough that I’ve no interest in another 3 laps on that margin, so back to the field with me. Tied for the lead on points.
Lap 4: Still riding in circles, the sprint is tame enough, I was hoping for 3rd and a launch pad for a finishing solo, but I get 4th(?) and nothing.
Lap 2: Strong guy ups the pace, stuff strings out fast, someone goes over the top of that. I’m there like a vegan on activism. We ride with me on his wheel, but he isn’t going fast enough so I turn the jet boots on in T3 and screw him over. Big, big gap to the field, I settle in and ride.
Hearing the Bell: I ride, ride, ride, gap is smaller, but still big.
I’m in T3 with everyone else on the back stretch.
I’m in T4 coming into the headwind.
WTF? Someone comes around me… I dig but can’t catch him at the line.  2nd place.
I roll up and chat with the guy who took the last sprint, yeah, he took one other sprint – I’m in second place. He won the Scratch, so he’s got first on the night, I’ve got second… Good gravy, I never saw him coming. I could have dug in more, really could have… I was going fast, but didn’t make myself hurt for every single scrap that last solo…. A few more grams of pain might have made the difference.

All in all – it was good night of racing with the A group, I took a win, and a convincing one at that. The second place could easily have been another win… I’m pretty upset about that. I had such a gap I didn’t think it was even an issue. No one else was anywhere near me at the final line – the 3 next guys were barely into the finishing stretch. That’ll show me. I was going hard, but I could have made it hurt a bit more. Also, I’ll run a slightly bigger gear next time

*Track – it’s great fun. *




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