Friday, October 26, 2012

Track Scratch (Race) Fever

I've been hearing about the Cleveland Velodrome probably since the idea was first hatched. I've watched the progress, and seen the building online. On August 27th, my daughter and I went to the grand opening. Not expecting to have an "open ride", I did not bring anything to ride in... my daughter, being the brighter of the pair, did. So she was on the track in short order... since then, we took the 101 course together, and I've been riding there at least once a week in September and October. Lots of laps, lots of paceline practice.

Last night, the weather was wonderful, and I expected a rather large turn out. I'm guessing there were between 20 and 25 riders out for the regular Thursday night "Happy Hour Night". As I was getting suited up, Brett said he was going to get us racing tonight.

We got in a reasonable warm up, though I spent a good deal of time talking instead of riding. At about 6, Brett cleared the track for a 10 lap scratch race. The idea is riders start in the rail, at the top of the track on the finish straight. Official starts the race, we got 2 neutral laps, then 10 racing laps. Mass starts on the track!

So, race 1 was about 7 guys. Dick Brink rolled off the front after the neutral, and I jumped after him about a lap later. I couldn't figure out how to pull through after being gassed on bridging the jump and we were brought back in short order. The best offensive move is to attack as the break is brought back, and Dave Bartels did. While the rest of us looked at each other he built up a nice lead... I did try to pull, but was still recovering. Weston left the chase to late, and Dave easily won the first race.

Race 2: We waited around a bit before going again. This time there may have been 10 of us. Somewhat different tactics, but again Dave jumped with maybe 7 to go, everyone else looked around. I think we picked up the chase but the gap was set. I did sacrifice myself in a long hard pull, and rolled in at the back of the field. Getting off the front was interesting as I pulled off and guys are going around me both above and below.

Race 3: Much faster this time, because it was getting dark. Dave must have sat this one out. Thom Dominic got off the front early, and I ended up third wheel behind Dave Chernosky and Weston. This time, they jumped earlier and I was ready. Ramped up the speed nicely. As we came by Thom it was evident he was not going to follow. I couldn't hold the wheel for the length left, and that was how it finished Dave, Weston, Me.

After each race, we chatted the tactics, trying to figure out this track race thing. Different levels of fitness effects the strategy. You want to know who will/can follow who, so you are ready when someone starts the serious move. Knowing that Dave B can hold those long efforts, we might be a little less willing to give him the early jump.

I'll say it is a totally different level of concentration. You can't grab brakes to slow yourself down, and neither can anyone else. The level of communication necessary is much higher than a road race, and the craziness of being in the field is a new level of "wow". In a way, it was like the first time I jumped in the A field at Westlake, a bit scary because of everyone else around you going fast, and also because you don't want to be "that guy" that screws it up.

Last night was probably the end of the season for me. I won't make it this week because of the 'cross schedule in Cincy, and with the time change looming, I think the day job will interfere with any track time. It's been fun though, and we're looking forward to next season.

No comments:

Post a Comment