• Bloomer Park, Rochester Hills, MI

  • Racing the Provincial's Crit 2014

  • Forest City Velodrome - London, ON

  • Larkenville Challenge, Buffalo, NY

  • Winning the Sprint at the ForestCity Velodrome

  • Track Nationals 2014: Keirin

  • Track Nationals 2014: Points Race

  • OCUP #1: Feb 2015

I dedicated this past weekend to the track - the Forest City Velodrome in London, ON. I raced Saturday night, and road hard during this sportif ride on Sunday.

The Saturday night races were set up with something different this time, or so it seemed. The B races contained no A riders which meant the pace was not as mind blowing as usual. This also meant my changes of finishing closer to the top three spots was greater - and that proved to be the case several times over.

To start off with, the race night was a sprint night. The focus was matched sprints - well, they are supposed to be matched. Normally, I ignore sprint tournaments because I am not a sprinter, but because I never really get any practice at it, I signed up on this special night. It wasn't long before the list was posted, and um, I regretted my decision. I was put into the Elite tournament where I would be been better off sprinting the women or the kids (yea, it's pathetic, but there are some 12-14 year olds at the track that can out sprint me). So, first up was Chris Singleton, Chris Veulmoux, and me. Two A class riders with Singleton being a great sprinter. Singleton controlled the pace and went slow enough that I was forced to take the lead - a position I hate before I do not have the ability to ride with my head turned. Needless to say, Singleton came over me and took off followed by Veulmoux. What happened next is something I still have yet to figure out: Veulmoux gave up on the last lap and allowed me to come over him. Huh? So, technically, I won second pace on the sprint which meant I advanced to the next round. Oh brother. So, I think I sprinted about three times during the night against some of the best sprinters on the track. It was a good experience for me, but none of them have to work hard. I just do not have the acceleration to come even close to some of these guys such as Will Simmons one of the fastest guys on the track. I didn't care - it was a learning opportunity.

Next up: the 40 lap endurance race. This one surprised me. For the last two months, I've finished either last or close to the back. I watched the video of the race and can not believe what happened. At the start of the race, I lead out the pack, and ramped up the pace from the start line. At one point, a few riders catch my wheel and we caused a gap in the pack. However, the pack rejoined as one of the "youth" racers decided to try and attack from the yellow line. However, he took such a long time doing it, I was second from the lead when he finally came down to the black and took off the front. The lead rider did not bother to chase, so when she pulled off I ramped up the pace.  After a lap, I looked up the road and saw that the lead rider got a 1/2 lap on me, and decided with some 30 laps to go, it would be foolish to chase him down because at one point, I looked behind me and saw no one. When I swung up figuring I catch the pack, I found one rider had bridged the gap. So we took turns every 1/2 lap chasing down the lead rider for the next five laps or so while two other riders bridged the gap. We have a paceline of four riders going chasing down the lead rider. At 7 laps to go, we finally caught him and and the five of us rotated off the front. At 3 laps to go, I was stuck midpack, when I saw Scott Matthews take off the front. I was getting a bit edgy. At two laps to go, I came over the riders in front of me and chase Scott down. That "Youth" that took off the front managed to sprint for the line and got first. I came within 1/2 wheel of beating Scott to the line. I placed third. This is the first time that happened. When I reviewed the video, I saw that I managed to crawl over some 4-5 riders to get on Scott's wheel to claim my third place position.

The next race was the miss and out. Also known as the Elimination race. This race is raced from the back; although, anyone that knows what they are doing knows that the only way to win the race is to stay one the front. Yes, this is the only race where holding the front of the pack on the black line is advantagious. The race picks off riders every 3 laps as they cross the finish line last until there is only one rider remaining. So, as usual, I went over the entire pack at the start of the race and took up my choice spot. However, some newby decided to fly off the front of the pack and ramp up the pace which in a miss and out isn't a good idea. The race can last 40 laps and the last thing anyone wants to be is spent with two riders left. However, this guy eventually burnt out and got knock out. Then that "Youth" came over me and took my spot in the race. He also took note of something I do: if a rider tries to come over you, get out of the saddle and ramp up the pace in hopes that they give up. I tried a few times, but I couldn't get over him. I found that it really did not matter anyways because most of the pack was falling off the back anyways. After some time, I found it was this "Youth" and me left in the race. Yes, for the first time I managed have a chance for the win. Now, normally, at this point, the race turns into a matched sprint and the pace slows until the last two laps. But, this guy just ramped up the pace and any attempt to come over him failed - he just had more kick that I did. He finished in front of me and I pulled second: another first for me. 

The last race of any significance was the Last Man Standing or, in my case, this usually means the first man out. Racers start from a standing start. Racers are positioned around the base of the track usually 10m or so apart. With a pusher holding the rider, at the whistle, the racers take off in a full out sprint. As riders pass other riders, they are call out. So, I gave it 110% off the start and sprinted for more than 1/2 lap, and then sprinted a couple times in the straights. As riders were getting called out, I noticed I was a 1/2 lap ahead of everyone else. I was stunned. I could not believe that happen. I am usually called out within 1/2 lap to 1 lap of the start whistle. However, eventually, it was just me and another racer left. Unfortunately, I gave so much during the initial acceration, I was spent and had a hard time keep the speed up as I saw the other rider slowly catching me. So, I landed second in the Last Man Standing.

So, to recap:
- 3rd in the Endurnace Race
- 2nd in the Miss and Out
- 2nd in the Last Man Standing
All firsts on the track for this racer at a great night of track racing.

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