Monday, September 13, 2010

Tuesday Night Racing, Hellyer Park

By Dennis Pedersen

After racing several times on the rental track bicycles at Hellyer Park's velodrome (banked oval track) in south San Jose, I am happy to say I now have my very own brand new Felt TK2 track bike, thanks to Aaron at Bicycle Trip! I have wasted no time putting it to use, and I raced it last Tuesday night for the first time. The bike, and my races, went very well and I had a lot of fun.

The velodrome was very nicely rennovated a couple of years ago, much nicer than ever before. Larry Nolan runs the September Tuesday night races and we make full use of the stadium lights as the sun sets before the races start.

For $12 I get a bunch of sprint tactics lessons and a great workout. I self-selected the "B" races again, as in my other recent races, but probably needed to enter the "C" races (for Category 4/5s), as the September Tuesday night races are USA Cycling races and I'm still officially Cat 5 on the track... being Cat 3 on the road doesn't qualify... oops.

B Scratch Race

This was a 25-lap race (1/3 km each lap), like any criterium but on the oval track. We started by holding onto the rail along the top of the banked track, and rode off with the usual pacelining. Then we had a few attacks by a Tieni Duro Junior. But we chased him down smoothly every time and in the end he faded and we sprinters won. But I'd timed my efforts and position wrong so while I passed some guys I was too far back to pass the two leaders and took 3rd.

B Points Race

This is a race where we get points for our finishing position every 5 laps, for 35 laps total, like seven 5-lap races; the guy with most points wins. So it's usually sprint, recover, sprint... etc. But endurance guys can do well by keeping the pace high between sprint laps. We had lots of sprints in the first half, I took a 1st and some other points, but then the Tieni Duro Junior attacked as we gasped. I had just sprinted and pulled at the front, so I couldn't chase. It became a 2-man break when the Tieni Duro Junior was joined by one guy and they worked together. The pack splintered and only 3 of us could chase. But... one was another Tieni Duro rider (the junior's dad it turned out!). So me and "Jeff" (Metromint) tried to drop dad. We had different ideas on how to do this so it didn't work. After a big pull that maxed me out I told Jeff to go for it, but then discovered I had just enough energy to draft them and sprinted for the 3rd-place points on the last lap. Not sure what place I took yet as I didn't see the results.

A few special things to bring:
  • Amber sunglass lenses for the twilight.
  • Some light snacks, maybe some food for dinner afterward.
  • Your own pedals and shoes, and tools and tape measure if renting a bike (you should have your saddle height, reach etc. measured and written down so you can easily replicate your usual riding position on the rental bike).
  • Trainer for warmup (it's hard to spin just right with only one gear).
After yacking a bit I got home by 10:00. All in all it was a great way to break in my new bike and race on a weekday night under the stadium lights of the beautiful velodrome!

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