The second week of the Velopark Summer Series did not end in a DQ!
This week there was plenty of pre-race GoPro related banter as we watched one of the Women breakaway to catch the 4th men’s race and, basically sit just off the back until she gained a lap. There looked to be a few crashes and punctures in the race beforehand, owing to a sometimes wet, sometimes dry track, offering sometimes variable grip in the corners.
The field looked interesting with plenty of the usual suspects racing. RPR had Dan Cooper and myself – one of us overweight from too much pizza of late, and the other recently returning from racing Rood Hook in NYC. A red (or orange, or white if being realistic) flag was raised when 6 Richardsons-Trek riders rocked up to the start. You knew the race was going to be tough.
Full Gas by name, Full Gas by nature
And it was. The first 25 minutes were done at 29mph average and the race was basically in one long line the whole time. Usually in these races when it is going all out and hurting, you think: ‘this is gonna stop’, but it just didn’t let up. The only real respite was caning it down the finish straight at 35mph on a wheel where you may have been doing <300w. There were plenty of attacks, and some got a decent gap with a worrying combination of riders. Somehow, though, there were always fresh legs to bring things back together.
For the first 17 minutes I averaged ~300w and the bunch was beginning to split. Gaps would form in the long single line of riders and riders would be blown out of the back. This is the point of the race I decided to move forwards to stay out of trouble. As soon as I made progress, a rider (somehow) crashes on a straight bit of track, losing control of his bike and luckily doesn’t bring down the Sigma guy on his wheel. The adrenaline of a close call activated ‘flight’ and I found myself attacking the bunch and bridging up to a Richardsons-Trek 2-up breakaway 20 minutes into the race.
It turned out to not be a great move – nobody else decided to join in and I was outnumbered in a break with two very strong riders. I’d made the effort to be in the move so I worked with it to get a gap so I could settle down and recover a little bit. Sometimes riding steady in a break at a higher power is easier than the repeat surging when sitting in the bunch. We’d stay out front for 7.5 laps and the move at one point looked like it had a decent gap.
I struggled to commit as the break wasn’t going to win the race without a lot of work – there was more than enough firepower behind to chase. Plus, I’d get attacked all the way to the line if the break did stay away and get 3 of 3.
Whilst mulling this over, our gap disappeared in a single lap as the bunch roared passed again. It was back to single file racing.
Richardsons-Trek repeated their previous breakaway tactic of having 2 guys get up the road, but I was replaced by Barney from Dynamo in the move. That would be the winning 3-man move, staying away for some 30 minutes or so. RT got a 1-2 after what sounded like a brutal finale.
The fight for 4th place would be a bunch sprint. After the break, I was on recovery duty, chilling at the back of the bunch and trying to pedal as little as possible. It took a few laps, but eventually I felt like I would be able to have a go at the kick. It was a little shaky at times, as 2 riders went down on the inside of me at the hairpin for my second lucky escape. I largely stayed out of trouble…
Coming into the bell lap, I moved up to 6th wheel on the home straight to be in the company of the best sprinters in the race. The idea was to find the wheels of the people who know where they need to be, and will always be in good position come the final sprint. For this I had Tom Hargreaves, Ian Robins and the guy from API-Metrow in mind to follow around the last lap. The pace was just below 30mph for the last lap, but it wasn’t too difficult because I was always around 5/6/7th wheel and Nuun-Sigma had a guy drilling it on the front.
I managed to keep my position all the way around the lap into the final corner – don’t crash! – where I keep making the same mistake in the sprint. I get the run out of the corner onto the wheel in front, but then choose the wrong side to put my front wheel. I went for the sheltered right hand side, where there was a lot of traffic ahead and had to back off a touch to be able to sprint left, which was clear. As soon as I saw a clean line, I hit the sprint and I was at the line very soon, bringing a few riders back for about 5th in the bunch sprint (~8th overall). 14s @893w was what I put down in the end.
It was very cool to be in another bunch sprint and learn a few more things about what I need to do . The frequent racing at the moment is tiring (more so than just the what the numbers say), but it’s definitely helping my racing abilities. The final lap I was thinking about position and the sprint, not letting riders pass etc., whereas previously I’d be thinking about all the usual final lap anxieties like crashing.
Full Gas haven’t confirmed the results yet – the series is meant to have transponders for accurate results but this week it looked like a video camera with insufficient resolution and FPS for a 40mph blanket finish was used to judge the bunch sprint. I don’t envy whoever has to review that video many times to work out what actually happened. It’s a handful of points for me either way, as I tick closer to 100 for the season.
Here are some stats:
The E/1/2/3 has a lot more time in z7 than the 1/2/3. My Garmin messed up with receiving ANT+ signals throughout the race, so some points were recorded @0w when I was pedalling hard. The race was definitely harder than 292w NP!!!!!!
Thanks for reading.