Day 3 of racing at the Mattamy Velodrome say the Master B racers compete in the mass start races. This was the day I was looking forward to. If there was a chance in getting to the podium, this would be the day.
First up in the morning was the 40 lap scratch race. I figured I had no chance of winning the race considering I was racing against some top sprint talent. My tactic was simple: lap the field or die trying. My Midweek Cycling nickname is Mark "Breakaway" which I got at Crit Provincials September by taking off at the start line and later getting in a 8 lap break away.
We got off the rail and the pack rolled around the top of the track slowly. The purpose of my flying 200m race was for me to figure out how to attack on the big track. On the second lap, I came around the pack at the rail at corner 3 and out of corner 4, went over the pack and gave it everything I had to get off the front of the pack taking the same line I did in the flying 200m. I landed on the black line with a 1/4 lap lead as two other guys started to chased me down. It probably wasn't the smartest thing attacking so early, but I wasn't sitting around waiting for the top sprinter to make a move. The rest of the pack keep the pace low while my chasers caught on and we gave what felt like a 10 lap effort of trying to lap the field. We manage to get a 3/4 lap advantage on the field before the NCCH coach gave the orders to shut it down. NCCH Teammates Paul Beit and Gary Wright took up the pace making, from what I understand, and brought us back to the pack. The fun thing about track racing is that is it so fast paced, the 40 laps count down very quickly. NCCH tried to control the race at that point with NCCH racer Gary Wright taking up pulling the pack along exchanging with me on and off ever few laps. I know he was dogging it waiting to give Beit the opportunity to go. However, that wasn't happening. With two to go Kalisto/FCV racer, teammate, now decorated sprinter, Steve Grundy was set on my wheel. While it was not planned, it happened. Grundy gave the order to go about the same time I got fed up waiting for NCCH to do something.... anything, and I took off over Wright dragging Grundy with me (and the rest of the pack). I knew, for me, it was the completely wrong place to be: on the front with one lap to go. That ends in only one way: the entire pack coming over me as start finish as the bell rang with one to go. The unplanned by rather well executed lead out got Grundy the second place and a silver medal. So, perhaps I can't sprint, by the big diesel engine worked. I played Domestique. I can see practicing leadouts in the coming training.
The next race was in the evening session and was a 60 lap points race: one sprint every 10 laps. The interesting thing happens whenever some sort of team play occurs in racing. Racers start talking to each other. I dropped a hint by accident that I wanted the first sprint. NCCH racer Beit had a chat with me about tactics and decided we should go at 4 laps out from the first sprint. All this talk go me thinking how the best laid plans are killed by "other people". I hate making plans in races and usually use a rule of thumb based on circumstances. My thoughts going into the race that "our" plan of attacking at 4 laps to go wasn't going to work and the race would be an all out "sh?t-show" with everyone attacking and trying to lap the field. Most of other points races that happened thus far at Nationals were the opposite: everyone "sat" at the top of the track waiting for the sprint, and then attacks happened at the sprint laps. I had the feeling, our race would be completely different and I wasn't disappointed as teammate Steve McKee took the early attack with 7 laps to go to the first sprint lap completely screwing up out "plan". So, what else is there to do? When they go, you go! I went as hard as I could but McKee took two other riders with him - I gather one was NCCH Beit. From here on the race was completely a blur because I remember seeing the three riders up the road lapping the field, and before I knew it, they had lapped the field. With the additional attacks, the pace was kept high. Attack, attack, attack. At some point, McKee was on to lapping the field again. I don't recall when. I completely lost track of state of the race. At 20 laps to go I was exchanging the lead again with NCCH Wright and pedaling squares and seeing double. Rob Good, Kalisto/FCV coach was now planted in corner three given me commands to get to the front, get to front, get to the front. At 20 to go, I was done. Spent. Fried. I thought I had nothing left. I was counting down the laps and considering pulling out. If Rob starting tell me when to go, I probably would have quit. Honestly, I had no idea who was up the road or who was behind me. At one point, I was chasing hard a three man break with McKee leading the charge with Rob commanding them to slow down. I gather I was to get a point in that sprint, but I was so done, the pack came over me on the 1o to go sprint. Missed the point. Back to the front. I don't know how I did it. I was so fried I couldn't get out of the saddle. Somehow I managed to go over the pack each time in TT mode and get to front when I was commanded to do so. I had no idea where the teammates were. I was just following orders. If there was ever a time I was pedaling squares, it was now. At one to go, the pack came over me, and ended up finishing near the back of the pack with no points to me name, but got a big thumbs up from Coach Good and a big pat on the back by teammates Steve McKee and Steve Grundy. They placed first and third overall...and apparently, I was a big part of that. I guess - it was all a blur. I played Domestique a second time, and it worked.
When I got off the bike, I almost fell over and had to walk down the ramp. Once again, I think it was the hardest thing I had ever done. Hard seems to keep taking on new meanings. I finished. All good.