This past Saturday was the first real day of racing on the track for the year! YEA!! And really my first time back mass racing on the track in close to two years. I did a couple of races last year, but more half hearted than anything and then TEAM CLM all decided that mass star racing wasn't such a great idea while still doing knee surgery rehab so I didn't do any more mass start races. The goal for the day Saturday was to just get through the races and get used to being back out there.
GRFS is a day with 4 different races and my field, Cat. 4/5, was sold out with pre-reg but a couple of no shows meant the two junior girls who showed up day of got to race. One other gal whom I'd not seen before was there in the 4/5s. The rest were all guys. 21 people total. There were also a pretty full Cat. 3/4 field and a P123 field which included a couple of pro men (or ex-pro), a couple of fast juniors, and a pro woman from Switzerland who has been here training and racing. So some fast laps going on! And some folks I hadn't see for quite a while (Ben, Deano and Katie), so it was nice to see some friendly faces. There were quite a few new people there whom I didn't know.
The coach wants me to work on spinning more, so I rode a smaller gear than normal. But it was windy so that was probably a very good call.
Race #1 - Keirin: [follow the motorcycle then sprint]
My heat was me + 6 guys. Thanks again Rick for putting me in with the guys. I drew #6 and slotted in #6 with a good throw from Ben. I was able to hang with the group the entire time on the motor, but when the motor pulled off (going into turn 1 instead of on the back side so a full 2 lap sprint instead of 1.5 laps) I was only able to hang on to the group for about a half lap, then got gapped off. Dude on my wheel sits on my wheel for another lap and then passes me on the back side and I couldn't go with him either. But I had a good hard effort and I was happy with how I rode. And man, I forgot how hard track racing is!
A lot of time in between all the other keirin heats, rep and final rides, so I jumped on the rollers for a bit and also was a holder twice.
Race #2 - Snowball:
We do this race so infrequently, I'm still not sure how it works, but it's like a freaking 15 lap sprint! With the full field of 21, I was a bit nervous on the line, but once the race got going, everything became totally strung out and then splintered into many groups. I got on with the two junior girls and we started doing half lap pulls and then picked up another guy and we rode the rest of the way in. I looked at it as team pursuit practice as we rode hard the entire way.
Race #3 - Miss-n-Out: [musical chairs on bikes]
With the big field, my intention was to go to the pole/inside lane and sit there as long as possible and stay out of any possible craziness in the back. And that's what I did for about 6-8 laps. Think of it as pursuit training. Once the speed picked up more, I got passed, so I ended up about 14th out of 20. Super happy to not be one of the first ones out!
Race #4 - Points (15 laps/sprints @ 5): [math on bikes]
The field had dwindled by this point and I'm not sure how many started. The junior girls did not, but one of the Master riders did start and once we got gapped off on the first sprint, he and I worked together to not get lapped. Mission accomplished.
Did a cool down on the rollers and then it was time to head off to a party.
Goal was met and the day was fun. As the Coach said, "Not a bad start". We had a 45 minute conversation this morning and we are rethinking the plans for the year. Just might mix things up and do something different. I'll keep you posted.