Wednesday night brought the first sessions of the Newcastle Velodrome Club Championships. I entered, knowing full well that I haven’t done any track racing this season, but then again I guess it’s never too late to start. I was to race two events over a mighty distance of 1.2km total. First up was the flying 200m, then a break while the other events were run, then the 1km time trial.
The flying 200m is pretty straightforward – full gas for 200m. The best in the world do it in less than 10 seconds. The best at our meet are in the 11-second category, which is not bad for a bumpy outdoor track. My time is a bit off that, coming in at a tardy 13.2 seconds, but enough for second place in B grade. In hindsight I came off the banking too early, and wasn’t able to use the full slingshot effect.
My flying 200m effort from the Mini DV on the top tube. I adjusted the angle a bit and the track looks a bit better
This is how it’s done. The A Grade boys giving it full gas. Shot from the infield with my iPhone.
Next week brings the Scratch Race and the Individual Pursuit. I’m not sure how I’ll fare in either of those events but it’ll be good fun to give it a go. I’ve got some nice TT bars on the way from the USA and I’m hoping they get here and I get a chance to try them before I need to use them in anger. Come on USPS Express!
Speaking of trying things in anger, I’ve decided to make the most out of the $300-odd it costs for a licence these days and I’ll race at every opportunity. Today’s racing was out on the Kooragang circuit, with the Hunter Valley Veterans Club holding their monthly invitational event. I stayed up late the night before fiddling around getting the Zipps installed and managed to do so with a minimum of fuss. The downside was the fact I had to drive out as I don’t yet have a reliable spare tubular, nor a can of sealant. Judging by the fact I saw one rider puncture on the way out there, one rider mid-race, and three riders on the way home (one with a double blowout) I think I made the right call. Plus, 50km at redline turned out to be more than enough.
It was a fast paced B grade bunch made up of about 30 riders. There was a moderate southerly which made things interesting, and some intermittent drizzle kept most people on their toes (and brakes). I kept myself at the front, but was poorly positioned coming into the last corner and was 3rd wheel as the sprint wound up. I placed 4th in the sprint but 5th overall. There was some monster off the front who had solo’d away for victory by about 15 seconds who had gotten away with a lap to go and held off a rather disorganised chase. I’ll be keeping an eye out for him next time.
It really all comes down to tactics when you’re reasonably evenly matched physiologically, and I learned a few lessons about not wasting energy doing big turns, closing gaps, and being at the front in a head-wind. At least there’s always next time.
As for the wheels themselves – amazing. Who knows how much is psychological when you put on your race wheels, but these things made me feel like I was flying. Believe the hype people. There was almost no interference in the crosswind, and the acceleration and speed out of corners and out of the saddle is something to behold. I was constantly looking down to see what gear I was in! The tubulars held fast, and the braking with the Zipp Tangente pads was solid and predictable, something I was surprised about after reading negative reviews about cork pads in general. Plus they make the bike look bad ass too, I’m sorry to take them off and replace with the humble Mavics for commuting.
Strava tells me I’m just about to click over 1000km for the year, which is not a bad start. I’ve also shed 6kg of my Tamworth lard and on my way back to a decent racing weight. I’ve also joined a local 24-hour gym to get in a bit of strength training when time allows. Here’s hoping I can maintain this momentum. See you out there.