Mother Nature blessed us with beautiful summer weather for four of the five days of competition- Sat Sun were the best, as well as being the days I raced so no rain cancellations .
For some reason the comissaires saw fit to juggle the itinerary for the masters races so it kind of messed up the game plan and left the riders a bit confused as to what race and hence what equipment to install next on the bike. At one point I changed my bars from track drops to time trial clip-on and back to drops again inside of 20 minutes because of this confusion.
The commisaires decided to enforce all the rules to the letter. I had to drop my ITT bars 3 inches to meet the regulations as being interpreted by the powers that be, that day. For some reason my bike was just hunky dory a month ago at the provincials in the eyes of the exact same commisaires but not on Saturday.
For those of you that know me – bending at the waist really hinders blood flow to my legs. Even with surgery I still have kinking. I had found a “happy medium” where I had some aerodynamics and decent flow to go pretty fast for the pursuit. But the changes I had to make to get to my bike to regulation spec shot that all to hell.
Finally at 1pm we got underway with the Pursuit and I went really slow. My hopes at redepmtion were dashed again when to my amazement I was second slowest in the flying 200m and did not even qualify for the match sprints. Sitting on the infield watching all the sprint heats really left me feeling a bit bummed and had resigned myself to being pummeled in the Scratch race because I just had Bad Legs on this particular day And that was that. But that is the great thing about track isn’t it. There is always another race coming up to have another chance at glory.
The Scratch race (10 km -40 laps) field was small (six riders) and was like being in a break in the last laps of a crit from the gun. My legs were not coming around at all. With one man away and the rest of us attacking each other we were in danger of getting lapped. I blew my last bullet and faded off the back thinking it was time to pack it in. But the rider who was away came up behind me and I jumped on his wheel. Now his pace was perfectly steady and smooth and I was not allowed by the rules to work with him and help him lap the field. So darn I just had to sit on and rest. The other riders were not working together to catch us at all – they were totally messed up doing dick -all, so we gradually kept gaining ground each lap until with just over 3 laps to go we came up behind them. It was like they forgot we even existed so I launched the hardest attack I could knowing it was all or nothing-now or never moment for me. I totally caught them all with their pants down and took almost half a lap before they could respond. It’s a good thing my gap was big because I barely hung on for those last 3 laps to get second.
The day was starting to look brighter-my moral was lifted and I knew that the next day anything was possible!
I need to mention at this point that there were only 2 master ‘A’ riders so they were added to the Master ‘B’ field of 6 riders to make a ‘A-B’ field of 8. As well -medals were awarded as if it was one category.
Sunday morning the show got off as it was supposed to with the Kilo and 750 and 500m but the master A’s did the B’s distance (750M) and competed for the same medals.I ripped off a great time for the slightly windy conditions to take the lead. I watched as the last two riders – one of who is a Master ‘A’ 10 years younger than me and newly crowned Canadian Sprint Champion-the other is an unknown entity from B.C. who is about the same stature as Peter Metuzals. One BIG MO-FO. The young one is off the line and after one lap I still have the lead lap time, but by the end two laps later he has taken just over a second out of me. He kicked my ass for sure. He joins me on the infield warmdown circle – I congratulate his ride and we both watch Goliath clip in to the pedals. The countdown clock beeps it’s final 5 second countdown as we both ponder the possible outcome. Gold vs Silver, Silver vs bronze. To make the drama short I’ll cut to the chase since I cannot recall whether his opening lap was better than mine but he was not in the medals at all.Whew!
Medal count growing and spirits rising still.
The next race was the 10km 40 lap Points race.I had reasonable hopes of winning a few sprints. I knew on any other given day I was one of the fastest sprinters there and definitely the fastest accelerator. But during the race My legs were not recovering from the hard efforts and I could not even contest the first Sprint. My moral evaporated and the gap between me and the field grew. I’m disappointed in my decision but I decided to pull the plug and drop out and save my legs for the KIERIN.
The Kierin is a really fun, tactically exciting event where a motorcycle gradually paces the peleton up to about 50 Km/h while riders jockey for position close to the motorcycle for better draft-but they must stay behind the motorcycle. With two or three laps to go the motorcycle pulls off the track leaving the riders to duke out the the last bit in a blistering sprint. This was my first Kierin ever but shit what do I care. It’s a sprint in a nutshell and that is definitely my kind of race. I strategized I’d use surprise again and attack as hard as possible the second the motorcycle pulls off. Usually there is a little lull where everyone looks around to see what’s going to happen. I put on a HUGE gear by track standards 48X13-so the attack would have to be 100% to get it accelerated up to top speed. We all draw numbers from a bag to determine our start position on the line. I draw second position on the line which is great cuz you are close to Motor for good draft. My big gear choice means almost everyone gets ahead of me right off the line. So “CRAP” I’m 2nd last-But wait….look who is in front of me-It’s GOLIATH, an even better draft than the motorcyle. Things are looking up, draft galore and room to start my wind up before the riders in front can react. I love it when a plan come together. The 10 laps count down quickly, I’m trying to watch the Motorcyle but Goliath not only blocks wind -he totally obscures my line of sight! Just before coming out of the first curve since I’m still in the curve and the Motorcyle is already on the straight I catch a glimpse of the bike moving off track. Instantly without hesitation I hit hard and give every bit of power I have to getting that big gear moving fast. By the time I get to the front rider I know my attack is going really well-he is soft pedalling waiting for the pack to come around. I blow by and continue to crank hard out of the saddle looking to hit 65kph. I cross the line with counter showing 2 laps. Great-I feel Great I can do this -I can smell GOLD. In the curve I glance left to see where my competition is and HOLY SHIT they are still in the opposite corner-I’ve gotten almost half a lap! Now I can taste GOLD- and I keep pouring it on dumping everything I have into the pedals. Coming out of the last curve into the homestretch the lap counter shows 1 and I hear the lap bell ringing like angels singing. The pain and lactic acid is coming on super fast, at an exponential rate. But I am totally committed, I’m sreaming at myself to go go go, give it all. My legs are turning to cement and I can’t feel anything below my chest. I’m slowing down against my will and there is nothing to do but hang on and hope. Entering the last curve the newly crowned Canadian Masters sprint and 750M ITT Champion goes by in a blurrr. A red and white flash to quick to actually see but I know who it is by the colors. Gold is gone, but Silver, I can hang on for silver. Just 75m to go, now 50, now 25, now 10 yessss…I can make it…whoosh 4 riders go by like I’m standing still. Shit I’m last-but boy did I make those guys work their asses off for it! I can TASTE that ice cold CORONA in my cooler and in a few minutes I savoured every last drop. It’s all over, congrats and props all round. Can’t wait to do it again next year.