Undaunted by flu threats Steve and Paul ventured to LA for some early season track racing at the silky smooth 250m, 46 degree bank, Olympic dimension ATD Velodrome at the Home Depot Center. The Saturday racing was in two sessions, open time trials in the morning, and age/category graded omnium mass start races in the afternoon - both hosted by the local association and one day in a series of five for the local enthusiasts.
We were hosted by a past teammate, Darrell Askey and his better-half Lynea, in there home in Irvine. FYI - the Askey's move to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada next week.
Options for the morning ran the spectrum, flying 200m to 4K TTT. We decided on our two national distance events: 500m, and 2K pursuit. For the afternoon we signed on for the 40+ series that included, miss'n out, 15 lap scratch, and 30 lap points race.
This velodrome puts to shame any facility I've ever raced - Lar2K may have seen equivalent or better in Manchester, UK. One thing that wasn't different was - the clock still ticks the same!
We began with the 500m. Our first full bore standing starts were strange - as expected for a new track, but we both a road well 39 to low 40 seconds covered our times and respectfully in the top third of a 25 member group. The 2K is of course a different animal, not an all out sprint, but a quick start and settle in at a high pace. I (sjw) was 2nd to ride out of 25 competing this pursuit length. The start was good and I had to reign in the horses a little in the first three laps (that's a good sign). The bulk of the eight laps went down as planned until the final two - then, as any pursuiter knows, things get very serious. I managed this well and finished feeling positive. BTW - this track is so smooth and well dimensioned I don't ever remember needing to handle the bike after the start, it simply follows the black line. Paul and Darrell put in excellent steady efforts - all I remember is Paul was riding very very tight on the black line (or slightly below) and the blue band gave him a little thrill slide. That little extracurricular action undoubtedly tagged him will a few extra seconds. Results:
- sjw 2:32
- pm 2:40ish
- da 2:40ish
After a handle bar change and a few hours we rolled into the mass start events against a group of 17 or so 40+ masters. The LA special quick start snagged PM by surprise he was caught victim early. SW finished 5th with the usual mistake - boxed in the sprinters lane and the other boys roll over the top.
Next up - the 15 lap scratch race ( a very short criterium). Basically, wanting a little vengeance I threw down in the first quarter lap. Track sprinters don't want to ride hard for 15 laps, so they let me go thinking "that guy is toast". They didn't know Vic's. As my lead stretch out to 50+ meters PM took charge in the group. He totally snookered the boys - what? they don't recognize team jerseys? Riding first, second, or third no organized chase was sustained. I had loaded up the 100 gear inch (52x14) so why not turn scratch into pursuit? End result SW did lap the field and win the race. Lesson, team work is the real deal. Many compliment were received from the field following the race - that is the best feeling.
Points Race - 30 laps and only 3 sprints. Yikes! That is different. PM and I pow wowed and figure anything I did would demand a serious chase. So, what the heck, at the first opening, about lap 2, I ripped off the front solo again. My ticket felt punched, but I did hang on to win the lap 10 points. PM delivered immediately, as expected and he was off with a few others - that was the race, K-pow (stealing from Karen), instantly riders were everywhere in groups of two and three. In the end PM and I were probably somewhere between 3rd and 6th - we did not hang out since it was 6:30 pm and we'd had 11 hours at the sweetest velodrome in the U.S.
That is a wrap. We'll keep digging for more and more on these speed merchant events. In my dreams Masters Nationals would be contested on these fine boards in LA.