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A night on the track...

posted May 20, 2013, 2:19 PM by Melton Cycling Club   [ updated May 20, 2013, 2:40 PM ]
Written by Steve Sutton

On Saturday 11 May my better half (Samantha Sutton) and I competed in our first Track racing event (at the DISC velodrome).
It has been a big year so far which has seen us compete for the first time also in criterium and time trials.
Pre-race saw both of us suffering from major nerves of what was to come. We had both registered for D grade however on arrival Sam and the other D grade Women found that they had been combined into C grade.
Our plan was to turn up early so we could find a quiet corner to set up but it seemed every one had the same idea and we were lucky to find space to place our rollers.
As the pre-race announcements began it was very confusing for all the first time riders. Especially as the track terms rolled off people's mouths like we new what they meant. After a few questions it started to make a little more sense.

The race format was posted on the notice board and we all began to get ready.
Pre-race instructions informed us that:
1. Gears were restricted to 92 inches (48/14) and would be inspected.
2. No tinted glasses permitted
3. No computers allowed.

The evening would consists of 4 races with points given to individuals depending on results.
First race on the list for my D grade was a 6 lap Progressive points race with the first across the line on lap one to get 1 point, first over the line on second lap 2 points , first over line on third lap 3 points etc etc.
Sounds like a pretty cut throat event with little let up the whole race with one sprint for the points just finishing and you have to go for the next. It is!
There was about 12 riders in mens D grade. Nerves were high. I knew I could not sprint at the front for 6 laps so my plan was to hide in the bunch for the first three laps when the points were low and maybe try and use my energy on one of the laps towards the end.
The first three laps went as planned with the same rider easily taking the points. He was obviously stronger than the rest of us. On lap 4 through more natural attrition I found myself on second wheel. I thought to myself as we approached the line. Its now or never. I went for it but was pipped at the line.
Lap 5 saw the same result. No results for a lot of effort in this type of race!
Lap 6, final chance, three of us rounded the last corner all fighting hard and I was stuck in the middle. One final effort saw the three of us cross the line in what I would say was a photo finish. I thought I heard one of the marshalls say the one in the middle. Did I hear right?
Later one of the other riders said he saw I got points on the display. Maybe I did get that last lap. Still waiting for the results to be posted on the Cycling Vic web to check.

My previous observation that the leader in our first D grade points race was a stronger rider was confirmed when he was bumped up to C grade for the rest of the night.

Race 2 for the night was to be a heat for a 3 lap derby. My main concern was that I had not done a held start on a sloping track. All our practice races to date had been a start holding onto the railing. Thankfully, I got away ok.
My result for this heat saw a close second place which placed me into the D grade B final.

Race 3 was the derby final. This saw a starting list of 6 riders. Somewhat out of the norm as most derbys have 4. A frantic call for two extra "holders" for the start saw me have the luck of being started by a world champ track racer who was competing in the A grade as "practice". I say practice as he made it look like a sunday stroll as he rode around in his rainbow jersey.
A delay at the start due to two missing riders saw us being held for an extended period while they were found which has now removed any doubt I had that I can balance.
Once again my result was a close second.
By this time the flow of how things were done was starting to make sense which will put both Sam and I in a good position next time.
One race to go.

By the time the last race for the evening had arrived my legs were wishing I was doing Sammy's 12 lap scratch race instead of the 20 laps that were to come. Do I use the same gearing or go easier? What are the typical tactics? A quick chat with Daryl (our Saturday coach) cleared it up. Same gearing. Stay with bunch and try and be in good position for last 2 laps. Easier said than done I thought. Once again the 12 or us started off. Initial few laps saw riders swinging off and taking turns at regular intervals. This didn't last long. As riders got tired they swung off at erratic intervals. Not good as you never new when the rider in front was going to suddenly swing in or out of in front of you. At this stage I was either protecting my front wheel to avoid a collision or trying to calculate how many laps were left and where I would be sitting if riders kept swinging off. With about 5 laps to go all fell apart. Riders were everywhere over the track and the marshall was yelling to some riders to maintain a straight line.
A gap formed and I thought "I'm getting out of here into clear space" I broke through and got to the front. Not for long as my legs disagreed with this plan.
One rider came from the top of the track and flew past to make an unassailable break. A second followed leaving me in third. 2 laps to go. Hang on legs! It was not to be. Somewhere between there and the finish I was vanquished to the minor placings amongst the pack.

Overall I am stoked with my efforts. Samantha Sutton did just as well considering she was placed with C grade. I'm am very proud of her considering she was totally blind going into her race. At least I had some practice derby's prior. It was a steep but enjoyable learning curve for both.

Next meet: Keirin event in June.

Event 18: D Grade Sprint Heat 3
1. 69 Ben WARNER
2. 66 Steve SUTTON
3. 63 Peter STANLEY

Event 20: C Grade Women Sprint Heat 2
1. 97 Dale MALZIELS
2. 94 Samantha SUTTON
3. 92 Susan COX
4. 98 Kathryn FELDMAIER

Event 25: D Grade Sprint Final B
2. 66 Steve SUTTON
3. 61 Liam HAPKE
4. 62 Paul DAVEY

Event 34: C Grade Women 12 lap Scratch
1. 93 Gabrielle BELZ
2. 96 Lisa COCHRANE
3. 95 Marita BOX
4. 94 Samantha SUTTON