Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tuesday Night Racing, Hellyer Park, 9/21

By Dennis Pedersen

The slightly chilly air and gorgeous sunset at the velodrome were apropos for the last Hellyer track race of 2010. I signed up for the "B" (Cat 3/4) races.

Scratch Race (25 laps)

This crit-style race was somewhat uneventful and slow, though a Tieni Duro junior did attack a little while I mostly sat in. I was bummed at the finish though, as the lap card still read "1" as we rounded turn 4. I'd heard the bell but wasn't sure which one to believe. Still, three guys had jumped around me while I was at the front in turn 1 on the last lap, but I was able to at least follow them for 4th place. "Garret," (UC Davis) won.

Points Race (54 laps)

These are my favorite, as the many scored sprints are perfect training and invite constant, exciting attacks. Points were awarded every six laps, with 5, 3, 2, 1 points for 1st through 4th place; highest points total is the winner. The high lap-count brought out a few groans, including from me. 18 kilometers is practically a marathon for a sprinter! At first I sat in for the long haul but picked up a few points in the first two sprints as I found myself well-positioned. In the third sprint I was 1st with a big, 50-meter gap. Yippee! Even though I slowed afterward nobody closed in. So, I figured they were tired and... attacked! I soloed for 1st in the fourth and fifth sprints for max points. But finally they caught me and I sat in to rest.

The pace slowed way down after that, with me soft-pedaling at the front. Then Garret attacked around me... I waited but nobody followed. Soon he was a half lap ahead. Garret took the 1st-place points in the sixth sprint, with me in 2nd, and I again opened a big gap ahead of the pack. It was time for me to leave them again as we were in danger of being lapped by Garret, which would net him 20 bonus points. I maintained my place ahead of the pack, except for the Tieni Duro junior's dad who bridged up to me. We pacelined a bit but got caught.

After the seventh sprint (I took 2nd place points) I took off yet again. I was still leading in points, but each sprint gave Garret more points. Soon he lapped the field behind me and started gaining on me, though the slightly dim light fooled me at first and I thought it was somebody else. With 3 laps to go he caught me (darn, it was Garret) and I dropped in behind him. He stopped pulling and soon we were jockeying for position. With 1/2 lap to go I was just behind him and slightly up the banking. He crowded me a little toward the rail, I half-jumped wobbily, he dropped down fast into turn 3 and I followed him furiously out of turn 4 to win the last sprint, our ninth, by just inches. I got 2nd place overall, in my most fun track race so far.

What a great way to finish the race season! The 2011 track races start in March, but there will be various training sessions, including Beginner Sessions on Saturdays, throughout the winter (check their calendar). See you there, I hope!

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