NCVA's "Hellyer Velodrome Challenge," on July 6th to 8th. This three-day event of oval-track racing requires competitors to qualify, in any one of several Sunday qualifying races, before they can enter. I thought (mistakenly, it turns out) that they will have races for we Cat 3/4 racers, but the Challenge races will all be Cat 1/2/3, so if I want to race in July I'll need to place in the 1/2/3 qualifiers at some point. Yikes!
I drove over alone, on a gorgeous Easter Sunday, with my Felt TK2 on my car's roof-rack. I'd figured out how to mount the bike up there even with the rear disk-wheel in place, so that saves me the time of swapping to my spoked rear wheel during transport. I had also been told how to set and calibrate the PowerTap hub on the disk-wheel so I could get some useful power data after the race. So many people have asked me about things like average speed that I have included some of that info here (for reference, I was using 48x14 gears, or about 90.6-inch road gain, and keep in mind some of the numbers, especially the "cadence" RPM, aren't that accurate).
Our first race was a two-heat "kierin" race, in which we five riders were lined up behind a line, held upright while clipped into the pedals on our bikes by assistants, before having to power forward to grab the draft of the pace motorcycle, driven by veteran Peter Bohls. We were given 6 laps total, with Peter pulling off the track after 4.5 laps after which we'd have to fight it out on our own. The first two finishers would qualify for the second heat.
In the first kierin heat I only managed to get into fourth place behind the motorcycle (in spite of starting from the fifth spot, high on the track), so I knew I'd have to act early to make up the four bike lengths ahead of me. A few seconds before Peter pulled off I went around the leaders and hammered forward, while they were still blocked by his motorcycle (and me!). I then kept my head down as hard as I could for the last 1.5 laps for 1st. I was followed by Zach, who had tried to get me to slow down, as we had a huge lead, to save some energy for the next heat, but the wind noise prevented me from hearing him clearly.
- Max 35.26 MPH at 138 RPM, 798W. Average 25.3 MPH. Total time about 3:10 minutes.
We then got a short break before the second kierin heat, in which I was third wheel behind the motorcycle after starting in the lowest spot (in the sprinter's lane). This time I started my attack just slightly later, since I had less ground to make up, but all I managed was to lead out Zach and Bernard, who both came around me yielding me just 3rd place.
- Max 35.95 MPH at 141 RPM, 881W. Average 27.86 MPH. Total time about 2:55 minutes.
We then lined up on the rail for our 15-lap "scratch" race. I ended up in 3rd for this one. I was marked heavily by other riders and spent a lot of time at the front awaiting attacks by the others that never came. So I attacked with about 2 laps to go, then sat up when I saw my gap wasn't as big as I wanted. I then drafted a bit, but wasn't able to come around the two leaders.
- Max 33.95 MPH at 138 RPM, 990W. Average 23.72 MPH. Total time about 9 minutes.
Next up was our "points" race, which was delayed by a crash in the 1/2/3 field with an ambulance visit for the guy who went down. [I found out later it was Allen Vugrincic who was admitted to the hospital with some broken ribs, scapula, collarbone and a collapsed lung. Man.] We would race for 20 laps, with points awarded for our finish in every fifth lap. So, every fifth lap we attacked, and the rest of the time we tried to recover... while trying to prevent the rest from recovering too much! I grabbed 1st in the first sprint, then got boxed in for 4th in the next sprint, then took another 1st. For the finish I was so heavily marked by everybody that I was slowly leading the whole pack around, on the stayer's line, for two laps! No attacks came! OK, fine; I went all-out with about two laps remaining, but all I did was perform another lead-out for the rest, giving me zero points for my 5th place. So, I ended up with 11 points, for 2nd place behind Zach.
- Max 35.26 MPH at 133 RPM, 807W. Average 23.33 MPH. Total time about 12:23 minutes.
Finally we remaining seven riders lined up for a short "miss-and-out" race (the last rider in every other lap is pulled). I have learned so much about track tactics, and I was able to use that to grab 4th in this race, but I was too tired to stay with the three guys who fought it out to the end.
- Max 30.14 MPH at 114 RPM, 617W. Average 18.23 MPH. Total time about 8:53 minutes.
One take-away of the power data is that the maximum power requirements aren't all that high for these mass-start races. I can routinely hit much higher peak power than the above results show, but it's very hard to do that after many laps of fast riding and attacks. I'm not sure what the overall result was, but they did post race results.
The gorgeous weather and smart racing really made this day enjoyable, in spite of the ambulance visit. Dinner with friends at the Crow's Nest was the perfect finish!