Sunday, February 05, 2006

The 129th Austral: Australia’s Oldest Wheel Race

Tonight saw us heading back to the track for some old time wheel race fun. After the weeklong escapade in Tasmania, it felt rather old hat really, well except for the fact that we were frolicking in the Vodafone Arena which will be used for non other than the Commonwealth Games track competition in about a month’s time. As a side note, if I had $5 for every time someone asked me if I was here for the Comm Games…Anyways, the event had a large media draw – but as can be expected, the women’s races were merely an afterthought (I will refrain from complaining bitterly at the sexist nature of this sport – and in a country that easily boasts the world’s best women cyclists…but I said I would refrain). The real draw was the men’s sprints – the film-guy from Channel 10 actually told me that he was there to see if Shane Kelly and Mark “Frenchie” French were going to knock each other off their bicycles – have a bingle, if you will. Alas, no such luck – although the Japanese riders did have a good go at taking as much of the field out as possible – a special props go out to the guy who took out two guys a lap and a half after the end of the race – super class!
So I’m sure you’re wondering how my races went – without a doubt…well the good news is that I have indeed improved since leaving Tassie 5 weeks ago. I feel better, am going faster – bad news: I still didn’t manage to get any kind of result out of the deal. The evening started with a good warm-up, in which I was pleasantly surprised to feel my legs were ticking over well despite a good deal of hill work at the beginning of the week. Yes, all that warm up for 18 laps of a 250m track. I’ll grant you, they were a tough dozen and a half – but only 18 all the same.
First up on the night’s agenda was the 12 lap scratch. Based on how I had felt on the track Thursday night and my experience in Tassie, I decided to play it cool during the scratch. To my pleasant surprise, I felt stellar throughout the race. Unfortunately (there does always seem to be a BUT in my stories doesn’t there?) I got a little boxed in a gapped with about half a lap to go. In all reality, it was my fault – I really should have moved up with 2 to go as I was feeling good – but as I said to Liz, the beauty of bike racing is that there is always a “I could have done that better.” So the last lap had me trying to close a 10m gap on the front 5 girls – I managed to shrink it considerably, but was left to cross the line in 6th place. I was actually quite pleased with the race.
About an hour passed before our wheel race during which I went up and visited Chris (the somewhat power-drunk folk at the velodrome wouldn’t let him onto the infield). I was place on the 40m mark with the girl in front of me a mere 5m ahead; I closed the gap pretty quick and we were well on our way. The girl in front of me pulled up just as we were closing the gap on all the front markers and I kept going to pull us even with just over 2 laps to go. Just as we made contact, one of the front girls attacked and managed to stay clear for the win. I got stuck high for the last 500m and consequently was not able to finish as strongly as I would have liked, but to my pleasant surprise, only 1 of the girls from my group finished ahead – and it was Liz (she started on the 10m), so I was happy for her.
We’ve made it home and it’s another one of those late nights. I’m too hyper to head to bed quite yet, but the miserable choice in television programming suggests to me that I should probably hit the hay and read a little more of the Memoirs of a Geisha. Oh yeah and for good measure, I’m going to plug as their writer was kind enough to make me feel special and interview me…maybe there will be something cool!

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