Man, what a ride!
A month ago I told you about a 2 day track carnival in Rockhampton which was my first track race in nearly 20 years and the purging of a demon.
A week later I argued for extra time to submit a race report on the race carnivals that occurred on the subsequent weekend. I failed in my promise. I’m sorry. So let’s catch up on everything that’s happened since my last visit to this neglected realm.
Work… I’m not going to bum you out with how long and hard I have to work to feed this tribe.
University… part of my absence can be blamed on undertaking a “summer intensive” subject. Instead of 3 or 4 hours a week for several month, some subjects can be done in a shorter timeframe; 7 hours a day for 5 straight days then 2 weeks to submit any assessment. It’s heavy going but it buys me some extra time during the semester because some time next year I’ll only have to juggle 3 subjects instead of 4. As for the 4 subjects I did in the July-November semester, results are in and I’m happy. A pass, a distinction and 2 high distinctions. Not too shabby when you hear the subject titles;
Thermodynamics and Electricity
Environment, Technology and Sustainability
Waves, Fluids and Optics
I nailed a very heavy science semester.
Family… my kids are still the cutest. My wife is still the greatest. I still don’t deserve half the love and respect they throw my way.
Cycling 1… here’s the meat and potatoes of the post. I’m going to jump all over the place with this one. Firstly, but most recently, I rode a 750m timetrial on the local velodrome clocking 56.42 seconds. Enough to place me 9th at our national championships for my age group this year. Over 8 seconds out of gold (a new world record) but only 4.2 seconds off the bronze. The exciting part is that the national were on an indoor board track and the competitors no doubt had their best tyres on their best wheels. I did my time on the nearby outdoor concrete track with 20 year old wheels and training tyres. The state titles are in March and as you can guess I’m looking forward to them.
I promised a race report last time I wrote. Here it is.
Friday Nov 16 2007. Marykhana is a track carnival that is in its 21st year. It’s a 2 hour drive from home. I arrived there knowing that there was definitely a separate category for masters racing rather than the combined category the previous week that saw 70 year old men competing against teenagers. Strong, smart and old is just as good as stupid, relentless and young but I don’t like the pain that is necessary to prove my point.
I was handicapped in the back half of the masters field on the basis of me being unknown. I proved the handicapper right by taking 3rd (behind 2 of my clubmates) in the first event, an Australian specialty event known as a wheelrace in which I started off 50 metres in a 1000 metre race. They moved me back to 40 metres for the 1600 metre wheelrace and I won that in a photo that took 25 minutes to decide. The other rider in the photo was member of the host club so it wasn’t surprising that they challenged me and my 2 clubmates to a duel (team sprint) which they won. Here’s where I promised my team that I wouldn’t mention that I beat the opposition but my teammates couldn’t hold my wheel and the race is decided on the last rider not the first.
Next was another bizarre track event called simply the elimination (or miss and out or devil takes the hindmost – it’s such an esteemed event that TwinSix have a t-shirt dedicated to it). The last title gets closest to describing the event. A group of riders starts together and then each lap the last rider over the line is eliminated until only the winner remains. Basically every 300 metres you have to sprint to survive. It’s OK if there’s only 5 riders to begin with, 16 riders not so much. When we were down to 3 riders left (me, the fastest of the host club guys and one of my teammates) my teammate sat back and took the elimination to let me rest up for an extra lap before the final sprint. Another first for me.
The last race of the night was a regular scratch race. A group got away which included one of my guys so we just rode tempo to avoid being lapped and let him do his thing out front, which was 2nd, I took the group sprint for 4th.
A nice nights outing that ended with my prize money comfortably outweighing my expenses.
Saturday Nov 17 2007. An hour further up the road from the previous night. The 4BU Cycling Spectacular has also existed since before I started cycling in the ‘80s. And again they mercifully segregated the old farts from the youngsters. Sadly my results from the previous night followed me and in the first race (800 metre wheelrace) I was handicapped at 5 metres. I fought and struggled through that race and arrived at the finish in 5th. 4th paid $10. Race 2 was a 1000 metre wheelrace with me off 10 metres and again I didn’t figure. The next race was, um, rained on. And it rained on and off for over 3 hours before the officials finally abandoned racing.
I didn’t have accommodation booked because 300km isn’t too far to drive home. After winning $260 the previous night I didn’t win a cracker and started driving home with a very disappointed outlook. Then I got upset with myself. I’d slept in the car the week before and done OK the next day, why couldn’t I do it again. Especially since I’d had a better first day and was in with a shot. I’d only gone about 30km when I convinced myself to stay and race on the Sunday when they restarted. Then I also decided to treat myself to a motel room so I could have a shower and a mattress.
Sunday Nov 18 2007. On Saturday there were over 100 riders at the track. Only around 40 showed up Sunday morning to complete the program so the organisers combined a few categories. The feature race which was supposed to have separate events for men, women and masters was rejigged into a single race; a 1600 metre wheelrace. I was put off 100 metres… the backmarker of the masters but that 100 metres between me and scratch contained nearly a dozen men between 18 and 35 years old (here’s 4… Grant Irwin, Miles Olman, Malcolm Rudolph, Lindsay McMaster). Fortunately the likes of Scott and Alan Davis didn’t show up for the restart. Again I finished mid-field.
The next race was again back to masters only. Thank God. It was an unknown distance… a scratch race where only the chief commissaire knows when the final lap will be signalled. It’s hard work watching all the other contenders and watching the officials every lap to try and get some hint of an early twitch when the bell’s about to be rung. My 25 inch thighs prevailed. And won.
Down to the finale and it’s a 15 lap motor paced race. 13 laps of taking turns behind a motorbike that slowly winds up from an initial 35kph to a touch over 50kph before pulling off with 2 to go to let us fight it out. I won again. A total of $110 for the second carnival against the room I rented at $103.27 for a profit of six bucks.
And that was the status of the whole weekend too – 2 entry fees, 600km of fuel, 2 nights in motel rooms and a punctured Vittoria Pista Evo CS equals $352. Prize money equals $360. Even my accountant agrees it was a profitable weekend. Sadly, not profitable enough to turn pro. But satisfying.
And next up is a thing called the Summer of Cycling… December 15-18. 4 carnivals in 4 days. And it’s only a 90 minute drive from home. 4 days in a row. Because this series is in the capital city all the big names will be there so I’m looking forward to assessing myself against the same people I’ll be going head to head with in March at the State Titles.
Next Thursday I’ll have handed in that last assignment and then I’ll most likely tell you all a wonderful story of how I faired over the weekend.