On Tuesday it was Australia Day, and South Coast Cycling Club put on a day of track racing at the Edwardstown velodrome.
I was a little hesitant entering the event, as I haven't ridden track in about six months! But it seemed like a good way to spend the public holiday, so I signed up.
The other thing holding me back was a mysterious flat tyre that had appeared on my track bike since the last time I rode it. The tyre is a tubular, so I wasn't too keen to replace it. Fortunately once I pumped it up, it didn't go flat again, so I'll chalk it up to a random deflation.
The forecast was for 33 degrees, a fairly warm day. I headed down to the track with my housemate Ben, who had also decided to race. We got there quite early and got in a decent warmup. This was very helpful, and I realised that I hadn't forgotten how to ride a track bike after all!
The first race was a two lap handicap race, one of three heats before a final later in the morning. The top six from each heat would go through to the final. The Edwardstown velodrome is about 480m in length, so it was basically a 1000m race. I was starting off 70m, i.e. I had a 70m headstart on the fastest rider.
There was another rider off 70m as well, and another right behind us at 65m. Dallas from PACC was holding me at the start line. I got off to a quick start thanks to a stellar push from Dallas, but I ended up dragging the other two around the track most of the way, and we got rolled by a large bunch right at the end. So I didn't make it through to the final.
The second race for me was an 8-lap scratch race. Ben and I had both been placed in B-grade, and decided we would team up and try and breakaway. The race was 8 laps long, and we decided to go early, on the back straight after the first lap.
Our race went to plan somewhat - we broke away from the field on the 2nd lap, and quickly started trading off turns every half a lap. We pushed it hard, but the pack caught up to us just as we entered the last lap. Oh well, we tried!
Next up was another handicap race as as a qualifying heat, this time a four lap, or roughly 2000m race! The added length would certainly make things interesting. Again, I started off with two other riders very close by, at 130m. Dallas gave me an almighty push, but this time I slotted in behind the other two, determined to let someone else pull until the end.
We actually traded turns and caught all but two of the riders in front of us. Our group was caught by a very fast rider coming off scratch, and I jumped onto his wheel as he began to pass our group on the last lap. I was sucked along to the finish, and came in around 5th place, enough to qualify me for the final.
Before we went on to the final, it was time for a 12-lap motor paced scratch race. In this race, the entire field has to sit behind a motorbike, and each individual rider can only spend a maximum of 1/2 a lap behind the bike before they have to pull off and reintegrate into the field further back.
My race did not go quite so well - I took a turn after about 6 laps and when I tried to get onto the back of the field again I couldn't quite get up to speed! I decided not to smash myself and to save my legs for the handicap final, so I let the bike go. In the end, about half of the riders essentially got dropped from the bike, so I was kind of glad I wasn't the only one.
The final race for my day was the 4-lap handicap final. A lot of us with about the same handicap had made it through to the final, and there were actually three of us stacked up at the 130m mark. One of the riders just in front of me was Ian Fromentin, who is actually taller than me and a great engine to sit behind.
Ian took off hard, and another rider jumped on his wheel, followed by me. After half a lap, Ian attempted to pull up the track, but the rider behind him just half-followed him, instead of pulling through! Grrr! Ian took another half-lap turn and pulled up, but the other guy just tried to do the same thing again! Very frustrating.
Eventually he pulled through and took a turn, then I did a turn at the front. However, due to our slow start we were swarmed by the scratch group at this point, with just over a lap remaining. I hung onto the back, but couldn't get anywhere near the front for the sprint, unfortunately.
So that was it for the day! The A-grade guys did an elimination race, won by Pat Marcucci, who apparently had a flat tyre as he crossed line. Impressive stuff.
Despite my lack of results, the day at Edwardstown was great fun. I really need to do track more often!