photo by Leanne Cole
What do you do when, late on Saturday afternoon a bunch of people start goading you into racing a state championship the next day, when you’ve not been training for it (ie minimal intensity work), haven’t raced for 9 months, haven’t even contemplated doing it and therefore haven’t sorted gear, food etc? Why you go see the Chief Comm and enter of course!
So that was the state of play for me on Saturday, when I went into DISC to watch the final events in the Men’s State Omnium Champs. And it started: why aren’t you racing? You should be racing. So you are going to bring your bike in with you tomorrow?? No, NOT the road bike, the other one! As I was helping Nancyboi to pack the car after he’d finished racing, the little seeds of
goading encouragement started to sprout, and I decided I’d do it. Put my bike where my mouth was. Numbers were lower than in previous years, and the WMAS division was very sparse, and would benefit from an extra number. So I did it.
It’s an odd feeling packing for a state championship as though it’s another Saturday morning Perko training session, but that’s basically what I did, except I would be training on my race wheels, on a bigger gear, and had to pack more food, and wear my Sam Miranda kit instead of my training kit. I didn’t take aero bars, or my aero helmet. I kept it simple and sweet, no pressure. It’s a bit of mind shift to be absolutely not racing one minute and packing to race the next. And not just racing a TT or a scratch, but five very different events in 4-5 hrs.
Normally I am on the other side of the fence for the omnium, so it was pretty exciting to be experiencing it from the perspective of those for whom I help run it. First event was the 500m. I ended up racing the same gear as I did at States and Nationals last year, and kept that gear on the whole way through. It was great – I didn’t have to fuss and bother with the bike once it was set up. My time for the 500m was the same as States, and a bit slower than Nationals, but I was stoked. No training, no racing, and I haven’t lost anything there. And then I realised.. I’d won the first event. That was a bit of shock, as I hadn’t even thought about winning. I was just there to ride my bike.
Next was the flying 200 and I was really happy with my entry; a good line and held it in place. My time ended up being a PB, and again, I was in first place. I was stoked! The two events I was really interested in, I did times I was happy with, and won both. It wasn’t until someone mentioned to me that all I had to do was win the next event….. and it hit me. I was racing. This was the real thing, not just “training”, which is how I was thinking when I walked onto the track for the TT.
Scratch race, and I attempted a breakaway by hitting them from behind. But I wasn’t fully convinced myself, and ended up with an observant Claire Campbell seeing my move early, and Bec Williamson jumping on Claire’s wagon, leaving us fighting it to the line with a little under a bike length between Claire in first and me in third place. It was on! The two girls are faster than me over distance, and my only hope was to catch them off guard and hit them at speed, gapping them.
The pursuit was going to be a non-event for me. It’s been three seasons since I have pursuited, and there is a reason for that! I had a plan just to get through with some legs left for the final event: hold a particular speed and increase it slightly every couple of laps. It kinda worked, although I couldn’t lift it in the final laps and hold it. Second place for me.
photo by Leanne Cole
Our final event was a 10 lap points with a sprint at 6 and 1 to go. Claire and I were breathing down each others’ necks on the leader board. I had a plan, chatted with Coach Gary, mentally rehearsed the first part of my plan, and hoped like hell my legs could do the work. We rolled half lap turns and with 7 to go, I was on the front, as planned. And then I started it: backing into the girls, slowing them right down, 34 kph, 33 kph, 32 kph. In the back straight I jumped and hit the accelerator with all I had. I gapped them, managing to hold them off over the line, with Claire just catching me after I passed the line. First sprint mine and a declaration of this is my race, come get it from me. My plan was to do the same two laps from the finish, and as we rolled into the first bend with two to go, I slowed right down: 31kph was on the dial. I was getting edgy, thinking they are going to jump, surely I can’t get away with doing this again? As we came to corner two, I couldn’t wait any longer, and I jumped with all I had for a second time. This time, the girls were waiting for my move, and it was a battle all the way to the finish. I swung a hook or two (one was excessive and I am lucky to have not been relegated), kept Claire up high on my hip, and into the home straight she slowly edged her way past me to take it right on the line. A couple of metres out from the line, I had nothing more to go with, and I was thinking we’d be up for a photo finish. What a way to finish the omnium – right down to the wire! But as it was, Claire beat me by a third of a wheel with Bec hard on us for third.
photo by Leanne Cole
For me, it was fantastic to be racing an event I’ve supported since its inception, and haven’t had the opportunity to race because I have been busy on the floor. It was also a great confidence booster as well, as I have been avoiding racing because I’ve not been “training” and thought I wasn’t “race fit”. I’m not, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be racing. It was also awesome to realise I have lost no speed in the last 6 months, just speed endurance and some general “race” endurance. And somewhere along the way, I’ve picked up a race brain …..
photo by Leanne Cole
Thanks to Coach Brad and Coach Gazman for the teasing, goading, encouragement to get me to enter. And thanks to Coaches Paulee and Gazman for the racing wisdom. Thanks to Domestique Nancy for unpacking and packing up my playpen and making sure my picnic basket was full of goodies. And finally a big thank you to the officials and girls/women who put their money where their mouth is, doing the very real and hard work of making the omnium a reality each year.