Friday, April 26, 2013
Wednesday Night Racing, Bs, Hellyer Park Velodrome, 4/24/2013
By Dennis Pedersen
The last few years most racing at our closest velodrome, the banked concrete oval in San Jose, has been on Tuesday nights. This year they have shifted it to Wednesdays, while other events, like team pursuit and training sessions, occupy the other days. Nils, Vlada, Ken and I have already been getting in some good track racing this season. Last Wednesday night we had Larry Nolan promoting, and we had enough entrants that I could race in the combined Category 3 and 4 "B" race.
He started us with a 10-lap "scratch" race; a regular mass-start race like any criterium. I like short races like this, about 5 minutes of fury! Our field of about 15 riders set the pace really high, something I've noticed that has improved this year; we don't have any riders just sitting in and resting. Well, I got caught out by the speed and while I was able to move up from the back with about 2 laps to go, I was too tired to fend off the guys who came around me in the last lap and I took 5th.
Next we had a "win-and-out" race, a rather calculating race like so many at the track. It's like a scratch race, but only for 1st place, the winner then pulling off the track while the others keep racing. Then the winner of the next lap takes 2nd and pulls off, then it's another lap to determine the remaining places. It's tricky, because if you try for 1st and don't take it, you may be so tired you finish last. I installed my new 50-tooth chain ring, but didn't have time to swap to a 15-tooth sprocket, so my gearing was quite tall. I was able to draft near the front for a while, then marked Stefan Eberle, who I know is fast, 'allowing' him to lead me out for the final sprint. I'm happy to say I didn't have to race any extra laps at all (meaning I took 1st)!
Between races I got to swap to my 15-tooth gear. Then we had a "miss-and-out" race, which is also known as "Devil take the hindmost" because the last person on each lap has to pull out in ignominy. I think I have finally figured out the best tactic for this one, at least for who I am: I ride slightly up-track, near the back of the pack. I am in the wind a bit, and ride a longer line than those down-track (in the sprinter's lane) get a slight draft at times, but I'm able to always ensure there's somebody behind me, usually down-track, who I can block at start/finish so they get pulled. But once we were down to three riders and they started the final sprint, I had nothing left. I was still really happy with 3rd!
For those still standing we had a 15-lap "points" race, in which 5, 3, 2 or 1 point is awarded to 1st through 4th place every 5 laps, and I took a 2nd and a 3rd... but only after totally getting caught out by the speed set in the first few laps and getting zero in the first sprint.
For the night I finished 3rd in the overall "omnium," which tallies our points from all our races.
If you're interested in track racing, including very low-key beginner sessions with rental bikes for just $5, visit ridethetrack.com. Ciao!