Last night at the velodrome I avoided a near death experience by being extremely sensible (read lazy) about my training needs.
Here’s my justification for being "lazy". My favoured championship events on the track are the sprint and TT. The sprint normally has a blinding all out effort for 200 metres but can blow out to 300 or 400 if your opponent thinks he’s stronger but not as fast as you. I expect a lot of this kind of treatment at the state championships.
The race where I exercised my luck last night was a 1000m handicap – which was perfectly handicapped (more in a minute). The whole idea of a handicap is to allow slower riders a chance at seeing the finish line first. On the road that means everyone starts from the same place with riders being set off in groups of 4-10 depending on field sizes at timed intervals (12 minute between fastest and slowest over a 40km race is pretty standard up to 30min on 100km). On the track the events are run over much shorter distances; 3-5 laps with slow riders getting 150-250m head start. If the handicapper does a perfect job every rider in the race should arrive at the finish line at exactly the same moment. That is problematic in any situation because most velodromes and roads can only accomodate about 4 or 5 riders wide.
I took my place towards the back of the field where the fast guys have to start and chase down the slower riders. The gun went off and I was sharply underway with 3 or 4 other hotshots around me. We were eating nicely into the handicap of the front riders. At 650m I finished my turn, swung up and switched off – there’s no need to burn for an extra 25 seconds with the titles only 3 weeks away.
2 bends later and with only 100m to the finish the perfect handicap problem arose. This track has a maximum race capacity of 24 riders and the race had 22 starters. About 15 of them entered the last bend in a tight bunch with a wide range of abilities, speeds and motivations.
A couple of riders touched wheels and there was an awful series of noises starting with the squealing of tyres, the clatter of bikes striking concrete, the explosive cracks of 160+psi tyres bursting, carbon wheels and frames shattering, the squeal of metal grinding on concrete and when everything stopped moving, the moaning of injured riders.
You’d be amazed how crowded it gets at a velodrome when there’s 5 ambulances on the infield.
The bike shops will be getting a boner about that crash. I counted 6 wheels, 2 frames, 3 sets of carbon bars, 5 helmets, several tyres, plus all the cosmetic stuff like seats, bar tape, gloves, shoes and lycra. It was all high end stuff. A carbon Teschner Trackpro and a BT, a pair of Corima quad spokes, an 808.
At the coffee shop on the homeward journey 3 of us did a stocktake and came up with a retail figure around $10,000. That doesn’t include the human cost. There was 2 riders drifting in and out of consciousness, another with a punctured lung and BP 85/30 plus a 40 year old guy who was calling out "Where’s Archie. I can’t find Archie." From talking to his wife while packing his gear in her car Archie was his dog in primary school.
I have 2 things to say that summarise last night nicely;
1. My championship preparation is on track.
2. Sometimes being lazy pays dividends.