Masters Track, June 25th Kissena Velodrome, Queens New York
I’m filing this race report because I feel like I raced intelligently, and I’m proud of that.I showed up almost three hours early due to the train schedules (I came from Montauk), so I had plenty of time to hydrate and eat before racing. A rarity for me. I also got to catch up with John Campo, the driving force behind the Kissena Velodrome, and a man with enormous legs and a huge heart. He lamented at the poor track conditions (due to a disastrous and costly resurfacing some years ago) and the numerous rainouts this year (eight so far!), both of which have left attendance pretty light. He is trying to figure out how to construct a 250m velodrome built on pylons on the infield of the existing track. That would be so cool.
I also got to talk to a guy named Robert, who used to race on the track as a teenager and was just out there to have fun and keep in shape. We continued to be friendly throughout the night. I also spied George, who I remembered from somewhere as a very strong rider excelling in breaking away. However, no Andrew LaCorte, Jerry Martinez, or any of the other strong masters I remembered from years past, excepting Campo. Our field would be about ten masters and one junior.
The week before, I was in a pileup at Northbrook and suffered a bruised coccyx and ribs. This night, I tried a few efforts, and nope. no way. No sprinting for me. I’d have to ride smarter than that.
Race 1: Miss-n-Out
My least favorite race. But since it was a small field, I decided that I would focus only on not being one of the first two riders pulled. I did this, but boy was I hurting from my crash. I thought about withdrawing from both that race and racing all together, but then stuck it out a few more riders. Before I knew it, it was four left. I made a big effort to shed the last guy (remember, no sprint, I had to wind things up over time), and then sat in for a lap. In the final lap, I was actually a bit boxed in under the sprinters line with the leader, Robert, ahead of me. Nearing the 200m mark, he pulled out of the lane and I put the effort in, winning by a good margin. My theory as to why he pulled out is that the track is bumpy enough that turn 4 can kick your rear wheel out. He either didn’t want this to happen, or just didn’t want to get boxed in the lane. Either way, I felt I raced smart and lucky.
Race 2: Scratch
I forget how many laps this was, but early on, George went (remember George Wendt from cheers?) for a break. I got on his wheel, and stuck there for a few laps and took a turn up front. Eventually, the field caught us and somebody let me in near the front. Thank you. The track was so bumpy that my glasses fell off. I caught them before they fell to the track and eventually tossed them onto the infield. Pretty fancy, huh?
In turn 2 on the bell lap, I turned it on, knowing I would lose any sprint, and barely held off the field for a win. Now I had 14 omnium points and the closest competitor had 6, ensuring me a win for the night. But then Alan, the head official mentioned something about adding another race. Boo.
Race 3: 7 Lap Point-a-Lap
Since there would be a fourth race, I knew I had to get second or better to ensure a win. So I went at the whistle and took the first two points, and actually stayed out long enough to get a third. Okay. Win for the night guaranteed. I pulled up and simply needed to make sure I did not get lapped by the field (turns out that the officials added an extra lap by mistake. It didn’t change the results, though).
Race 4: Flying 500
It’s a mass start sprint starting in turn four, and going for a lap and a quarter. I knew I didn’t have to place to win the night, so I semi-dogged it. But after turn four, I was just behind the front three, and made a play for it. Unfortunately, Robert tried to pass under a guy named Mike and got his bars turned by Mike’s thigh. He crashed in dramatic fashion. I avoided injury and coasted over the line. Robert was taken to the hospital with head injuries, etc. I hope he’s okay. He seems like really nice guy.