I got to the track at 8am, and setup to do an easy hour on the rollers to get my breakfast settled in. I was going to do this out on the road but I though this was a better option to make sure I got a good spot in the inner. Headphones on, ticking the legs over, I watched the place fill and come alive.
Trying to figure out when my qualifying ride would be was the biggest stress at this point. I wanted to follow the V-Train’s (Stuart Vaugan) sage advice about getting the legs primed for the Pursuit and timing was import. I also had my friend Rosewal coming along to help me out at the side line with my Schedule during the ride(s) and wanted her there in time too. I watched the Program and the qualifying rounds run while intermittently ticking the legs over with my road bike on the rollers. Everything fell into place timing wise with the warm up and the plan was to try a 3:50 schedule up to lap 4, then apply the thumb screws over the remaining 8 laps.
Down at the 1st bend roll around area most of the other Masters 1/2/3 riders were there waiting to be called up. Justin Graham is there and we have a bit of a chat. Even though it’s the qualifying round, there are still two riders on the track at the same time to get through the all the age groups. I’m part of the last pair to go and start from the front straight. I’ve got V-Train on the other side of the track. The bike’s clamped in, then I’m clipped in and the 20sec countdown starts and I’m feeling more relaxed than I thought I would. I think it’s because I know when that clock gets to 0, it’s time to go, no if’s but’s or maybes, just GO. My start feels good out of the gate, though the front wheel lifts a few times before the bend as I try to put the hammer down. I settle into the aero position towards the end of the back straight where Rosewal is to give me signals on my spit times. 1 down and I’m on the back straight and I’m already 3secs up… “Shite, too hard, surprise surprise”. I settle into what I think feels comfortable. 2 down, 5secs up?! “Fuck I love the feeling of ‘race day legs’… BACK IT OFF!” This goes on for a few more laps and I think I finally rain it in by lap 4? It all becomes a blur buy this point and to throw another thing into the mix I’ve got V-train on my shoulder passing by what looks to be effortlessly… The 1st thing that pops into my head is “DON’T SLIP STREAM! YOU’LL GET DISQUALIFIED” So I move up the track to the red line, keep my pace and wait for him to pull away. It takes longer than I was expecting or am I chasing? I start gaining and move higher as I think I might be going to pass, “Nope, just back it off and then take up the pace again”. Things get back into a rhythm and the pain kicks in for the last half of the race. Where am I? What lap is it? Where am I on my Schedule? It’s time to just dig and see how deep I can go. I bang out a 3:44 something. That’s faster than I was expecting. “Fuck I love race day legs!” Then they fill and when I go to get off it’s hard to stand. My throat is feeling tender too. I find out that my time gets me into the Bronze ride off?! That wasn’t in the plan. Maybe I try and ride to schedule this time!
My throat is starting to feel really shite and I can’t stop coughing. It feels like I’ve been breathing in razor blades. There’s lots of time to kill before the Finals so I head out side and up the road to get Fisherman’s Friends to sooth it.
It’s time to try and figure out how the hell I’m going to tackle the Final. Up until now it just been a time trial really. Now the Pursuit part comes into play. Rosewal and myself try and figure out a way to signal my schedule & if I’m up or down on Graeme. I spend time on the rollers to keep the blood going through the legs, trying to freshen them up for another effort. I give them a burst to warn them of the pending hell, though not as long as my one before the qualifier.
Out of the blocks feels good again and no wheelies this time. I want to stick to the schedule I was supposed to ride in the qualifier and not even worry about my opponent till lap 4, then assess it from there. Lap 4 comes and I up (2secs from memory) and feeling OK so I wind up the wick. Next time round I try and spot Graeme… Can’t see him. “OK just wind it up and burry yourself” The legs start to complain and I tell them the shut the fuck up and just try and manage the effort to the end. Not sure how much I lost by.
I find Graeme to shake his hand and thank him for the race.
It’s a quick pack up, home, and out on the street fixie for Burgers & Beers at the Standard Hotel. Rosewal and I do a good job at drinking our way around the world with the help of the imported beers list. We throw in a couple of locals for good measure too.
A HUGE thanks to the V-Train for all of his awesome advise on getting this Muppet up to speed :)