Friday, 6 November 2009

Back in the Classroom

Thursday night racing is my weekly tute group: I find out where my legs are at for the week, learn more about reading race play, strategies, play around with what I got that night, and generally take home some new snippet lodged in the track racing 101 files.

Last night I had one of the worst afternoon preparations you could ask for. Normally I make sure I eat and hydrate well, because I stop eating real food at around 6pm, and can't eat heavily before then anyway. Yesterday afternoon was wall to wall meetings, with the final meeting finishing just shy of 6.30 (meaning reduced warm up time). So.. not enough food, not quite enough hydration, shortened warm up time, on race gear as a compromise for time. Add to the mix hayfever, which roused an asthmatic response under load, and NO ventolin in the kit bag to speak of. It was going to be an interesting night!!

I actually don't remember much of the scratch race. I DO remember thinking about attacking with 5 to go, but decided against it as a Bad Idea. 3 to go and two junior girls give it a solid crack, making us oldies groan at their enthusiasm. I went with them as best I could and with 2 to go, just had this odd sense in the brain of "STOP NOW!!!" So I did, just as the lungs filled with dust coated cotton wool, and my breathing failed. Good timing ;-) I rolled into the pits, felt like complete shite as the lack of oxygen hit my system. I was worried for the points up next: I was standing at the gates of nastyland.

I ate some snakes, which made me feel nauseous, drank some fluid, which made me feel nauseous. I finally began to only feel slightly better as the A graders completed the halfway point of their race. Lining up on the fence, I mentioned to the Gazman that I had left my ventolin at home. His reply: just win the first sprint. Well, I nearly did, but was blown away by racing regular Chris, who launched himself past me with about 150m to go and galloped home to collect full points.

Figuring that was me done, and wondering why the hell I was spinning out the gear in a standing acceleration but truly feeling its weight seated, I figured my race was done and dusted. Then I noticed I was gaining on the bunch and about to join them up, having let them roll over me after the first sprint. I wasn't sure whether to be pleased or not, but decided to hang in until my grip let go and I slid off. It took a few more laps for that to happen, and I was by that time more interested in managing the rising asthma than scoring racing goals. And I was feeling a bit better than I had been after the scratch: that had to be a Good Thing!

I was ready and keen for the motorpace by the time I lead out the bunch behind the derny; a huge physical and mental change from when I rolled off the track after the scratch. The gear felt like butter, smooth but with some gentle weight to work with. I was happy. Behind the derny at 5, and off up to the blue line with 4 to go, to wait anxiously for the right wheel. The woman behind me had disappeared and in her place was a big guy to draft when he pulled off the derny. Sweet! When he came off, I was ready for him. I was worried he would drift too far back down the line, and mentally urged him to stay forward, ready to hit the pedals when the time came. He was my ride home, and I didn't want him to fail in this task! Somehow, my mental telepathy worked, and he caught his backward drift and maintained forward. Unfortunately when the jump came, I didn't have the legs, and then had a minor scare with a guy passing over me, dropping his line into me. Back off time!!! Into the final lap and legs and lungs were in failure mode, but I was happy to be able to deliver myself into a good finishing position ready for the jump. New task: more fitness (o, that's my current life's mission!!) and learn how to finish the job.

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