“I’ve ridden track leagues in 4 different countries and the 1-2-3 races last night where right up there speed wise with the best I’ve seen.” —Lee Povey
Lee wasn’t kidding. This was the biggest turnout I’ve ever seen for a Wednesday night, and the fastest racing at Hellyer since HVC last year. And it was only the first Wednesday night race of the season! Anyways…let’s get into it.
Scratch - The scratch was fast off the whistle. There was an emphasis on being up to “race speed” during the neutral lap which was not taken lightly (30+?!). I had my eyes on Judd and Dave McCook (Team CLIF Bar Cycling) as the most experienced riders in the pack of 25+ (unheard of for Hellyer…we’re usually lucky to get 10 of us weekly). McCook was doing everything he could to split up the pack and keep everyone on their toes while his junior kept position for the finish. With 3 to go I was on Judd’s wheel with Dave just uptrack from me. If either of them attacked, I was golden for the sprint. It didn’t happen. Dan Smith (Morgan Stanley/Specialized) attacked over top with a string of skinnies behind him. Once they lit it up I had no chance of jumping and catching on behind the Judd and McCook wall. I hammered it in and finished safely in the pack.
Tempo - This is probably my least favorite race, but at least it was only 10 laps. Usually a shorter tempo equates to more pain in the A’s field because all the skinnies want to go off the front to prevent the “sprinters” from taking their points at the line. Fergus Tanaka (Team Chica Sexy) went first and I went with him, taking 1 point for the first lap around. I looked behind me and didn’t have much chase so I kept it going. McCook and another bridged up to me and we battled it out for the next two or three sprints. After that, I was pretty much useless and sat in the pack for the rest of the race. I need to figure this one out…I never do well. At least I scored 1 point, which was my only goal in such a competative field.
Miss N Out - This is my race. I love to see how different tactics play out and learn how to respond in the moment to shifts in the field. Off the whistle I attacked to the front and sat on the red, letting another rider pace it in the lane while I blocked anyone coming under or over me. I like doing this in the beginning because you can control the pace, and let a substantial amount of the pack get knocked off the back. The field was too strong for me to sit on the front the whole time and they started coming over top in waves. I found myself in the back playing the devil about halfway through the race. I don’t have a problem with that, but I know I need to be careful so that I can still sprint at the end if I make the cut. With about 5 to go one of the juniors did not exit the track after being eliminated, boxed me in, and we were both out the next time around. Great! The race ended with a good sprint between McCook, Matthew Valencia (Team Specialized Racing Juniors, 2012 Junior National Champion), and Raul Arias (SJBC). McCook fended off Valencia and let Arias take it (McCook coaches him).
Points - By the time the points comes along I am usually in survival mode. My only plan was to stay in the group and not get dropped since I had no chance of placing well in the overall. I did that for the first two sprints, but got a little frisky on the third. I saw Tanaka, Tim Tsuruda (Team Chica Sexy), Marc Marino (Team Chica Sexy), and Dave Mesa (Team Chica Sexy) all attack with 2 to go before the sprint, so I hopped on. I was assuming one of them would jump, but nobody went off their train so I came around and took the sprint. I thought Tsuruda would be right on me so I was digging pretty hard and opened up a quarter lap gap by myself. Oops. There was no way I could hold that for 15 more laps so I sat up and hopped back in with the group when they came around. We finished the rest off safe and FAST. Really fast. 25 laps in 12 minutes fast.
All around this was an amazing season opener with some tough competition. I hope it stays this way throughout the year. Thanks to Larry Nolan for promoting and everyone at Hellyer that has put in the work to kick off the 2013 season proper!