By Dennis Pedersen
This was my second track race of the year, once again part of Michael Wesley's new Novice Racing series designed to give beginning and intermediate-level track racers a place to have fun without having to race with the Pros in the usual 1/2/3 fields. I'd really enjoyed the first race, in March, so I was happy to head over to Hellyer Park in San Jose for some racing on their banked-oval velodrome, especially with the clear weather.
This time I was able to use the disc-covered wheel I bought from teammate Ken Sato (for a very reasonable price... thanks again, Ken!). It even has a power-meter hub, so I can check my actual power output on the track now, just as I do during my countless intervals workouts.
We started off with individual flying-200m runs. And again I had trouble with the front wheel shimmying wildly whenever I went to 100%. I basically had to back off and ended up with a mediocre 13.24-second time (I think that's about 33.8 MPH). My personal best is 12.47 seconds, so I was much slower. Definitely something I need to work on some more. The 10-MPH wind was not helping either, though.
We then had a 15-lap scratch race which I won by, like last time, taking a 2-lap "flyer" by myself. Interestingly, when I checked my power output later on, I found that I'd set new personal records for my 30-second, 1-minute and 5-minute average power. I guess I'll have to check the calibration of the new hub and make sure it isn't lying!
We then ran our individual standing-start 500m runs. Cathy Morgan held us firmly upright, clipped into our pedals, we got the countdown, and then strained all-out to get up to speed and hold it as high as possible. I got a 40.4-second time, which seemed OK to me (I think about the 3rd or 4th fastest rider), though my power definitely dropped toward the end. A good time is for 500m is 38-39 seconds, so now I have something to compare against for future efforts.
Lastly, Michael had us do a quick "unknown distance" race, which was simply a matter of racing until we heard the bell, then sprinting for the finish line. Well, we didn't know how long it would be, so Stefan Eberle went off the front right away, gambling the race would be short. I held back, figuring it might be a bit longer, but then decided the others were too slow so I started bridging up to Stefan. I wasn't convinced I could catch Stefan, though, and still be fresh for a sprint, so I backed off and worked with two chasers. We were closing the gap a little, but then the bell rang and I knew it was too late. I still got 2nd though.
All-in-all a very fun day of racing, and I learned some more lessons. The next Novice race is on April 15th, with my favorite "match sprints"... but I'll miss it due to the Santa Cruz Classic Criterium that same day. Oh well.
Now where are those notes on how to "stomp-test" a power meter...