Big fish, little pond. Little fish, big pond
Or, some days you're the hammer, other days, the nail.
Saturday, Blackburn club championships sprint day. It's blowing a healthy nor-westerly (fast if you know how to use it). 500m ITT first, I use 90". Held starts (we HAVE GATES FFS! USE THE DAMN THINGS!). I ride a 40.03 (hand timed) which I think is a PB. It's fast enough to win MMAS3 and would have gotten me a bronze in JM17(!). Good-o, one in the bag, big fish in a little pond, the other guys I'm racing against are enduros. The Wizard rides 38.something to win MMAS2. Dino wins the 750 at DISC at the Vic Masters on the same day (clashes with BBN's club champs). This will be the last bit of really good news for Dino, who is clearly the fastest MMAS4 in the state of Victoria (big fish, big pond). Emily has no competition, not a single JW17 has shown up to race with her. She rides a pretty good 500 in the circumstances. I'm pleased both for her (win, you can only beat the people that show up to race) and also proud of her. I believe strongly that elite riders should make the effort to race club races when possible, especially things like club championships. It shows the younger kids where they can go and they're part of something and it keeps the elites grounded. Likewise I'm proud of Emerson Harwood (NTID) who also raced.
Next up, flying 200's. It's still blowing a gale, I keep the 90" on. I ride a 13.20, another PB (by 0.1s). That'll do, I'm 0.4s faster than the second qualifier, Richard Stringer, in MMAS3. Emerson breaks Andrew Steel's long-standing track record, with no aero fruit. He rides 11.8 seconds. At Blackburn, that's very fast. Emily rides a much better time than she rode last week at round 4 of the SSS. James Dann rides another PB and qualifies third in JM17.
Race time, I get to watch as Alan Dorin and Ben Schofiled fight it out for the chance to race me (4v5). Alan wins that, has a rest and then I race him. I've raced Alan many times over the years, almost always in endurance races and he has almost always been able to beat me. Not today. Sprint is my game and he goes later than I expected him to, gets a small gap which I use as a lay off and I zip past him to take an easy win. Easier than I thought it would be, the standard mode of attack is for these guys to go early and keep jumping (how to beat a sprinter in one easy lesson). Maybe he wasn't 100% fit? I don't know. I'm though to the final. Richard Stringer races Rob Monteath for the other chance to race for first, Richard wins it. So I'm up against Richard in a best of three for the gold.
The first one, I have the lead (I think!), Richard takes it at a jump, gets a small gap but I catch and pass him. One down, that wasn't too bad. He can accelerate and handle the bike well, but doesn't have the top speed to pass me. Good to know ...
Round two and he's got the lead, and jams me right up hard into the fence at 2.5 to go. Jammed so hard I had to grab the fence to avoid falling over! As I grab the rail he jumps and is gone. I chase (it's now a 700m ITT!), wind him back a little, while watching him swerving around a few times (huh?! he's 40m in front and almost in the grass?!) but the gap is just too big and I can't reel him in, I concede and it's 1:1. I'm not pleased about it, but this is club racing and I don't think he meant to jam me so hard into the railing. I'm not going to protest, I do mention it to Doug but he didn't see it, no-one did, it was at the far end of the track and obscured by how we were positioned. I don't think even Richard realised what he'd done.
Round three, this time I resolve to take this one from the front. I have speed on Richard, I don't think he'd be able to pass me at full gas. I have the lead, every time he moves I ramp it up a little, pulling him down off the bank and keeping him under control. No low speed, sudden jumps this time and no way I'm letting him in front to push me around this time. With a bit over a lap to go I accelerate, not 100%, but around 80% or so, not looking back any more, but I will kick up the back straight and again around the final bend, that's the plan anyway. I know he's hard on my wheel but I'll break his timing by changing pace. Up the final straight and I kick again with 40m to go and just wobble a fraction out of the sprinters lane for a brief moment, it's entirely accidental, I think (I didn't see it) it made Richard move off his passing line, I cross first and record a win. There's some discussion about it, I did leave the lane, if the judges think it affected the results I will not be upset and I tell Richard if he wants to protest I will not be upset with him about it (I didn't see if it made any difference but I did do it). He decides not to protest and the result stands.
Ok, club champion for MMAS3 in the TT and the sprint. My first ever. I am pleased!
Sunday, different story. Vic Masters. I'm now the little fish. Here be real sprinters. One guy in our division is a masters world champion and has come down from Sydney to teach us all a lesson. In my opinion, DFL trumps DNS every day. I'm going to put that to the test. My flying 200 is a PB again on 96", at DISC, I ride 12.8something. Beats my previous best by a whole 0.1s! Heh! Anyway, I'm pleased with that, but Gavin (the guy from NSW) rides 11.1 Uhuh .. and He's qualified 1st, I've qualified last (8th) - 1v8. Good-o. This will be ... entertaining ... I have the lead, tactically I do it all as well as could be expected, I keep watching him the whole time, using the bank and speed changes to control position, do the hook-and-drop at turn three with one to go, but Gavin just hits the accelerator and goes whoosh past me. He did everything right, was patient. I'm out 'til the keirin in the afternoon. Still, one better than last year when I didn't get a ride except for the flying 200.
Dino's on fire, he's qualifed fastest and is up against a bloke who's flying 200 suggested his experience at this track was marginal. Dino's lined him up to pass on the finishing straight when he (the guy Dino's racing, loses control and turns right, straight up into Dino with 40m to go. WTF?! Dino comes down hard and breaks his collarbone. I'd like to remind everyone reading of a rule, an important rule. These things happen but that should not have. Dino's put his heart and soul into training for this event and this was just horribly cruel. He gets bundled off in an ambulance with lots of strong drugs.
Chris Ray wins his sprints and wins Gold. Dino gets a silver by virtue of a disqualification. Not what he wanted and it's awful. Emily collects his medal for him later.
Keirins, I've drawn number 1, I get the motorbike. I'm on 96". Safely on the bike, I lead it out, with one to go the boys behind me kick and I don't have the legs to go with it, first three (of the four in our heat) go through to the final, and they all cruise over the line. Outgunned? uhuh ... anyway, DFL trumps DNS.
Mick Thomas wins the MMAS4 (or 5? Mick?) scratch race AND the keirin!
After some running around with Emily (Dino's not driving anywhere today!) and a solid state team training session in the evening it's time to go home. Phew. A big big weekend ...