Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Race Report: Omnium at the Superdrome

Firstly, I really did mean to update this blog earlier but have been flat out over the past couple of weeks (really!).

Anyway, here is a belated race report for the PACC track meet at the Superdrome, held on Wednesday last week.

The night was an omnium, which is typically a series of five events held in the same day/night. In each event, you get as many points as your placing. For example, if you come first, then you score one point. If you come 17th, then you score 17 points. At the end of the omnium, the rider with the lowest amount of points is the winner.

A typical omnium consists of a points race, scratch race, time trial, flying 200m sprint and a pursuit. The flying 200m and the time trial obviously suit the sprinters, the pursuit and the points race suit the 'enduros', and the scratch race probably suits the enduros more but can also suit a sprinter. So, essentially the omnium overall favours an all-rounder! (Note: the "time trial" in track parlance is 500-1000m long, nothing at all like a road time trial)

I was pretty keen to do the omnium for two reasons: one, I was inspired to race at the Superdrome again after watching some of the track nationals the week before, and two, I had never done a flying 200m or a TT before, and I thought they might be fun. Unfortunately there was no pursuit in our omnium, which makes sense given that most people probably wanted to be home before midnight!

There were three grades, and I was smack in the middle in B-grade, along with 12 others. I chose to go with a 90" gear (50x15) for the night, as that has felt the most comfortable for me racing B-grade at the Superdrome in the past. I don't usually bother with changing gears for different events, mainly because I'm lazy. For reasons I won't go into, my rear track wheel was axle-less, but luckily Alex B was able to lend me one (complete with tied-and-soldered spokes and a Gatorskin tyre!).

It was a very hot and humid night! There was sweat literally dripping off of me just getting my bike ready. I was pretty careful to drink a shite-load of water for the rest of the night.

As mentioned in my last race report, I haven't done a lot of track lately, in fact it had been about six months since I'd ridden on the Superdrome! Fortunately I felt at home almost right away while warming up.

B-grade started off with a 30-lap points race with sprints every 6 laps. My strategy expert informed me that I should attack from the whistle. Hmmm, why not? And so I did... I got a gap pretty easily and managed to hold off the field long enough to get the first sprint points. I swung up at that point as I was suffering pretty hard and didn't feel like I could keep going at a pace sufficient to hold off the group. In hindsight, perhaps I should have stayed out there because the others may have sat up a bit after the sprint for second place. Something to try next time.

I rejoined the group and pretty soon we were coming into the second sprint. I managed to just edge into fourth place, getting myself another point. After this sprint, Ben P decided to go on the attack and flew off the front of the pack. We wouldn't see him again until he lapped us about ten laps later.

At this point I was pretty tired, and finding it very hard to respond to any surges and the sprints. I wasn't able to get any more points, but I finished the race in third position overall.

The next two races were the new experiences for me - a flying 200m, followed by a 500m time trial!

For the flying 200m I got some advice in the pits to try a bigger gear. All I had on me was a 14T cog, so I put that on, bringing my gear up to a rather large 96.4". When I went for the sprint, I had a lot of trouble winding this up, and in hindsight I really should have just stuck with the 90" and spun it out. My time was a rather sluggish 13.47 seconds, good enough for eighth place. I know that I sprint better at high cadences (on the road anyway), and I'm sure I could pull off a much better time than this if I did it again on a smaller gear.

The 500m time trial was a standing start. Needless to say, I went back to my 90". I recieved some good advice beforehand from one of the experienced track guys, John Z (I think). I think that technically my time trial was pretty good - I stayed out of the saddle until the second corner and tried to get up to speed by then. After that I just got aero and felt the pain! Unfortunately the result was not particularly great - another rather sluggish time of 41.36 seconds, good enough for ninth place this time.

The final event for the evening was the scratch race. One of the other riders ramped the pace up fairly early on, and a lap after he swung off, I tried to put in an attack but with my legs a bit faded, I couldn't get clear and ended up dragging around the bunch for a fast lap or so. Another lap went by and then Ben attacked off the front again, unfortunately I was still recovering from my earlier effort and couldn't go with him. The rest of the race went a bit poorly for me, I stuck at the back, and struggled whenever I needed to accelerate. My lack of track fitness was showing I think! I finished at the back of the remnants of the main pack for seventh place. Ben stayed away to win the race.

At the end of the night I finished up eighth overall in the omnium, which I was happy enough with. I could have raced scratch race a bit better, and obviously my sprint times would need some work too if I was ever going to win one of these things! Looking at the results, the top 3 riders all placed fairly highly in every race, which really shows that the omnium is all about consistency and being a good all-round rider.

The night was incredibly well organised by PACC, I'm a bit annoyed that I haven't attended any of the Superdrome track events earlier in the season. This week is a Madison night, with a keirin and a points race for the people not doing the Madison. Unfortunately I won't be able to make it, but it sounds awesome!

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