Monday, 21 April 2008

Itching the Scratch

There are five of us in my race, and I know Trudy Van Der Straaten and Kerrie Howard are the main contenders, with Donna Meehan a close rival. Margaret Horne is an unknown quantity. I know that a sprint finish will not be good for me, as Trudy is significantly faster, and Kerrie is also quite speedy, with better endurance. I have a plan to attack as often as my body will let me, and to take any opportunities to attack as they come my way. I wasn’t concerned about the end of the race; my focus was on the middle, and not participating in yet another boring women’s race. I was pretty chuffed when a couple of people approached me before the race, asking if I would do my trademark move. I have a reputation! Good stuff – bring it on!

We roll around at a reasonable clip for the first 5 laps out of the 20 in total. Something in my head triggers at Lap 15 and I go from the back of the pack. I get stuck on someone’s hip coming out of the bend into the straight, but then manage to break clear and go. I check behind me and see Trudy on my wheel so I pull up, thinking that my attempt had been unsuccessful because I was so slow coming out of the bend. But as I climb and shed speed, I see only Trudy and Kerrie have come with me, so I a make a dash to lift and get back on, but Trudy has also slowed and the bunch comes together. I miss my re-entry onto the back of the pack, and am off the back by about 5metres. I hear the commentator say my effort has spent me and I am dropped. I don’t think so buddy, and I drag myself back on.

A few laps later and the bunch goes high. I stay low and attack again. They are too busy playing with themselves to notice until it’s nearly too late. (Un)Fortunately they have the advantage of the banking to latch onto me, but I know they have spent a few pennies. As the bunch comes over to me, Trudy rides over the top of me and pushes me off the track in the middle of the bend. I yell at her and come back up onto the track, and she moves up and out of the way. It seems she likes to move down on people, and be the town bully in general. It won’t be the only time she tries that trick on me, but it will be the only time it’s successful. The bunch slows right down again, and the commentator asks how can we be staying upright and not sliding off the track. The bunch moves up the track again, as people refuse to take turns, and I stay low. We repeat the previous manoeuvre. I am tired. In fact I am wrecked. At some point I do get dropped again, by a short distance, and manage to get myself back on: another mistimed re-entry, caused by fatigue.

Coming into the final laps, and the bunch is high again, and I am still in the sprinter’s lane. My brain is beginning to switch off from fatigue. Everything hurts and I am working on some primal level of functioning now. I hear the commentator say something about some activity at the back of the bunch. I glance up in the bend and see the look on Donna’s face as she rides the front of the bunch on the fence. I realise my mistake, understand what’s coming, and think of being dumped in big surf. I am out of the saddle in a feeble attempt to gain speed to ward off the dumping that’s about to happen. I see Donna out of the saddle and point her bike down the banking into the straight, aiming for a spot just in front of me. I go hard, as hard as my body will allow, and manage to get swept along in the bunch for a while. At some point, lap 3?? or so, I am 2nd or 3rd wheel, and someone comes underneath me on the blue and hits the front. It’s Trudy playing a sneaky hand, for which she is not penalised by the Officials. Later, discussions occur with the Chief Comm, who basically says so what? And it gets left at that.

Two laps to go and I am thoroughly trashed. I have managed to blow myself and Margaret Horne up, and given the other 3 a tough ride. I am dropped, as is Margaret, and I stop racing, brain not functioning at all apart from survival mode. I fail to realise that I could possibly pass Margaret if I keep the pressure on, and come home with another cheque. I am spent and have made the fatal error of not racing to the finish. But I am pleased with myself, having taken myself to another level in terms of leaving blood, guts, sweat on the track, and being able to recognise opportunities as the race evolved. I attacked when my body was telling me it couldn’t, and then I did it again just to further prove a point to my failing body. It will be interesting to watch the video footage of this race, to compare it to my memories of it. I know things happened but don’t quite remember when in the race. Things are a bit of a fatigued blur after my second attack. I suspect my attacks won’t look like attacks at all when reviewed, but me just picking the pace up for a bit. Afterwards there was some mention of “sacrificial lamb” by some, but lambs don’t wield mallets, they sit in the pack and wait, scared and hiding until the end. I received quite a few nods and winks of acknowledgement as I came off the track, and a couple of looks of sheer stunned-ness as well. I am not sure if that’s because what I did was considered stupid, or gutsy. I’ll be taking the latter, thanks.

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