Day 4 of track nats saw us racing the Keirin and 3K Individual Pursuit. The Keirin originates from Japan. It is an eight lap sprint race, where six riders draft behind a motorbike for 5.5 laps, and then are let loose at 50km/h to race for the final 2.5 laps. The race really is only the last 650-750m and it is probably one of the fastest races on the track with speeds exceeding 65km/h. The individual pursuit is just that. You and the clock with a small twist: another rider racing you in the same race against the clock 1/2 lap apart. If you are caught by the other rider, the race is over.
Keirin Gone Wrong
I've done a Keirin a few times before at Bloomer Park in 2013. Bloomer Park is a 200m track in Rochester Hills, MI. I'm probably the only one in the Master B category that has, nevermind, the only licensed commissaire in the group that has done the track course. I'm working the Youth Cup races at the Milton Velodrome in February. So, I am still kicking myself for what happened in the second race. First, I entered the keirin for fun. Given there were some top sprinters, I never expected to make it through to the final round. Three riders from each heat proceeded to the final round with the remaining riders racing for placings in the 6-12 round. The first round was, well, slow. Still, the top three sprinter blew by the rest of us and I managed to finish behind them.
The second race, well, is where everything went wrong. I made a mistake. On asking around where one should be behind the bike, I was told position 1, 2, or 6. If you are the sixth man, you are attacking over the group somewhere when the motorbike leaves the track. Well, I think I ended up 4th man back. Not a great place to be. At Bloomer Park, I figured out that the motorbike pulls off in corner 2. Well, on a 250m track that doesn't happen. It pulls out somewhere around the pursuit line to corner 3. Actually, the rules say that the motorbike is to pull out between 650m to 750m from the finish and that the racers are NOT to pass the bike until the bike has pulled completely off the track. Opps. I came around and saw 3 to go, and started to come over the pack. You can guess what happened next, I had enough speed that I came over the pack in corner 2 and still saw the motorbike on the track. I hit the brakes as hard as I could, but it was already too late. The guys on the front made it a hard race anyways, and held second wheel into the finish. I probably should have just pulled out, but when I looked up the board and saw DQ, I wasn't surprised. So, what was a really great move was executed just way too soon. I watched some for races from the other categories, most of the riders that attacked the group timed it to cover over the pack in corner 3. If I ever do a Keirin again at the Milton Velodrome, that is what I will do (more on that below).
3K Individual Pursuit
The 3K IP was the last race of the day. The problem was, I was fried from all the other races. It should have been mine event, but in training, I was not able to pull off any great times. The best I could hope for is a personal best. I was on the second heat with a total of 12 riders. When I entered the start gate, Rob Good set out the plan: 19 sec laps. I was racing a 94" gear which turned out to be bang on correct. When the gate let me loose I gone on the pedals and probably did that a little too hard. I sprinted around to the 1/2 way point of the track and then settled in for 12 laps of hell. Most of the laps I was bang on target. I know from experience I can generally hold a pace fairly consistency. I know I was usually giving it a bit in corner 3 because the track seems to go downhill from corner 3 to corner 4 and I was able to speed up. So, if the lap felt slow, I was able to make it up there. I think I had only 2-3 laps where I was told to pick it up. With three to go, Rob instructed me to pick it up. I always hate that feeling. The one where you are pushing harder and given more effort but getting any return. The last lap was full out as hard I could. I finished on the top of the board with four riders racing. I got a time of 4:01. 20 secs faster than my best 3K at Bloomer Park in the summer. However, my lead didn't last long as rider after rider went up to do their turn. I would have had to shave off 6 seconds to come in around 3:55 to be able to place. So, I finished 7th of 12th. When I came to a stop after the ride, I had absolutely nothing left. In fact, I had hold my bike firmly and the rail on the ramp, because I almost couldn't stand. It took about a three minutes to recover from the effort.
I signed up for all the events at Nationals to gain some experience. Initially, I did not sign up for the sprint tournament but later got my way in. So, realistically speaking, I did too much racing for three days to be able to make to the podium. I am a TT specialist, and not a sprinter so I should be focusing on the endurance events and leave the sprints to the sprinters and all-rounders. I think I would have had a better 3K IP time hard I gone into it fresh. However, I did the sprinter tournament for a reason: I want to find the line for the best attack. The 200m TT allowed me to find that and it worked. I managed a great time for the flying 200m and that experience enabled me to start an early break in the scratch race. Thus, while it is fun to do all the events at the other track for fun, such as Bloomer Park, Forest City Velodrome and Cleveland Velodrome, I think for competitions where medals are awarded, such as Provincials and Nationals, I will still to the endurance events, such as the mass start races, the 3K IP, and perhaps the 750m TT. I know from experience, the longer the race, the better I do.