Monday, December 26, 2005
Boxing Day - First Day at the Races
And I'm trying to recover. Man, was today ever an eye opener - I'm just not used to getting beat quite so much on a track bike. It's like all the Aussie's have my exact skill set (all speed and bike handling) it's just that they are better at it - I was humbly reminded that while I missed out on the Canadian 500m National Title, I would have been like 8th in the Australian junior field. The speed is just unreal - and I don't like being dropped on the track!!! :P But I figure that I will race into it.
Part of my performance (or lack thereof) has to do with the type of racing they do over here. Most of it is handicapped as to allow the up and coming riders (such as a U17 girl I was chatting to before the final of the 2000m wheel race) to race with world class competitors (Belinda Goss is the heavy favourite in most of my races after having medalled in the scratch race at the first world cup). The organizers decided that I would be placed on the 25m mark (that would be 25m in front of the fastest girls on the scratch line) for the 1000m wheel race and as follows, the 50m mark of the 2000m wheel race. It will be interesting to see if they keep that mark for me in the days to come.
Racing at the Latrobe Recreation Centre started this morning at 10:00 with my first race being the 1000m wheel race (in case I have not made it clear, a wheel race is the handicapped race). My first jaunt on the track in Australia was a little lacklustre. After two months of long miles, the kilo that I was subjected to was a little on the harsh side. I managed to catch the Kate Cullen (attended the last world cup for the UK - competing with the Scottish team here in Tasmania) relatively quickly, only to get blown off the wheel in a bit of confusion about 400m in - I never really recovered and consequently did not make the top 7 in order to move on. Chalking it up to experience, I looked forward to the slightly longer 2km wheel race later in the afternoon.
Luckily, the 2km did indeed treat me better. I was at the 50m mark with a (very nice) girl from New Zealand named Rosie McCall - and together we were able to make up the majority of the handicap - however the speedsters on the 230m mark managed to elude our efforts and stay away. I squeaked into the final, finishing 7th in the heat with a turn of speed at the end (it was nice to feel fast comparitively!!!) The final played out similarly, but Rosie (who also made it through) had 4 or 5 girls behind us. Again we were unable to catch the girls who had started on the 230m mark, but this time I was blown off with just under 1 lap (approx 400m) due to a bit too long a pull into the wind on my part followed by the last lap speed serge.
After a bite to eat and a little recovery time, I was ready to tackle the 3km scratch race. I felt fairly strong and in control - I was riding my own race - but again the final serge of speed caught me out as the wind blasted me on the final lap. However, despite this, I feel like it was a solid day of racing on my part and the lack of results are more due to the excellent calibre of the field.
Just one day here and my outlook on track racing has changed a little. First off, my legs are not that big - most of the girls here are about my size, but with larger legs...and they are beating me. Second of all, I totally understand how the Australian dominate any racing that is FAST. From a very young age they are teaching their athletes to go fast over very short distances - and then you can extend the distance - a great example of this is Jesse McLean - one of the other competitors here is a former World Junior Pursuit Champion (from only a few years back) - but I'm starting to get it. Finally, track racing can be interesting to watch. The thousands of people who attended today's event (and I would guess that they weren't all here to watch the "chop" and running races!) are a testament to this - but then again, all the racing is geared towards the crowd. Short, fast, exciting and anyone can win - top this off with an announcer that must have experience at a horse track and it was quite the spectacle!
Chris had a similarly "for experience" day. He felt that a combination of an overly optimistic marking from the officials (he was looking for something a little more than 180m over 3km - those boys are cooking!) combined with some of the fastest racing he'd ever experience led to a painful, yet fun track experience. He had varying levels of success in the men's 2 and 3km wheel races as well as a 5km scratch race - not exactly his ideal set of races!
Tomorrow we get to rest up to prepare ourselves for a 5 day run of racing (Chris and I are definately feeling the intensity!) As for the picture - it is a Tasmanian Devil. Now I realize that the tasmanian devil has NOTHING to do with today's post - but Becca had made a special request and how could I possibly refuse???
Signing out from a girl who hopes my fast twitch muscle fibres wake up!