From Brent Atkins, Aug. 15, 2011
Once again the weather co-operated magnificently two years in a row.
This year I was extra excited to race the track because of the new surface on the track which would make it both safer and faster.However upon arrival Thursday evening it appeared that the track had become extra slippery with the new grey painted surface.
I was rooming with Mike Nash and Chris Reid of RWR and Ian Robertson from Hamilton originally but currently living in Nebraska.
During the afternoon races I witnessed several crashes that were caused by riders slipping out.I chalked it up to them riding too slow-just lack of experience.When open track time came around I was anxious to get on the track and shake the 3 hour drive out of my legs.I added just a bit more speed to my normal pace to be sure I would not slip out in the banking.About the 3rd lap in about halfway up the track cruising alone at about 32kph my front wheel starts falling away from me! My instinctive reaction was to go with it and dive straight down the track banking which is the only way to stay up on two wheels but could result in a T-bone crash with any riders below me.There were none at that moment….phweww!
Now I am rattled and my confidence is shaken.I find a File and go to town roughing up my front tire to give more tooth for grip and let 10 psi out of both tires.I mention what just happened to my other track buds and as we are discussing the slippery state of the track we hear the unmistakable sound of riders sliding down and piling up at the bottom of the track.This time it is Chris Reid of RWR and two others ,one woman and one male Para rider.Now I’m thinking to myself WTF- have they painted this track with and what do I have to do to keep my ass off of it? By now it is getting late and I am hungry and thirsty and my legs feel dead .Time to get some food and a six pack.
Friday morning starts out overcast and a bit cool and stays that way but no sign of rain.I even put on Hot balm and wear arm and leg warmers.They open the track for warm-ups at 9 am for Para athletes and 10am for the rest of us.I stay the hell off the track because more riders are arriving who have not ridden on this new surface yet.I’m sticking to my rollers for a warm up and just as well because people started sliding off again in no time.Chris Reid narrowly avoided a second pile up which was bad enough to end one riders nationals.Too bad as well since we need every rider we can get.My category was left with only me, Mike Nash and Julian Base from Vancouver.So as usual they combine the Master A and B riders to make one field of 5 riders.What sucks more is that only myself and Julian have signed up for the Omnium-which means we ride all the events.
At 11am we get started with the Flying 200m to qualify for the sprints.That takes only a few minutes since only a few riders are doing the sprints.My flying 200m time sucks ass compared to what I’ve been doing in training but no big deal.It is only me and one other in Master B sprints so I my time only counts if we get rained out and cannot race later.
Up next is the 3Km Pursuit-where two riders start opposite sides and chase each other.
I’m against Nash which I know beforehand is going to involve him passing me at some point.This is his “money”race which he is training hardest at for the World Master Track Championships in Manchester this coming October.My goal is to ride a good evenly paced pursuit and post a respectable time for me.I start out with good acceleration because of my small gearing and quickly put 1/4 lap into mike but I know that will evaporate once he winds up his massive 104inch gear.I manage to hold him off until the the last Kilometer by which time I’m in my special pain place hanging on.I post a 4:04 which is great for me any day and Mike rips a 3:42:93 which is where he needs to be now to win at the worlds.Mikes day is done so he offers me the use of his Brand new Mavic Carbon front five spoke wheel for the match sprints.I ask if he wants a Visa imprint but replies with a chuckle,”no I’ll just take the Aztek if you smash it up”-I kinda think he is serious and I figure the book value on it is probably around what the wheel is worth.WTF-”How long will I be dead?”,so Off I go.My competition is only one guy-but Julian from Vancouver Won the scratch race so I know he is smart and I know he has a good kick.I ask him if he wants to”put on a show” and do some track stands to entertain the crowd but he says,” no-I’m not much good at those”.HMMMMM I’m glad to know that-thanks for the info-that’s an ace up my sleeve.To make a long story less-long our sprints were pretty clean with no big drama.He took out the attack in the first one and I nipped him at the line-it was really close.After a short rest while some others sprinted we toed the line again and this time I wanted to keep him pinned against the railing but he was going so slow I was worried he was going to slip out and we’d both go down-but I kept him pinned against the rail so he was trapped and had nowhere to go..luckily our tires held on.As the bell rang coming into the home straight I dove hard straight down the steepest part of the banking getting the most benefit from the steep slope to help me accelerate to top speed.He could not match my jump and never closed the gap to challenge me so That was it.Sprints are best two out of three and I had the GOLD!
We hit a local Brew -pub “Le BROUEMONT” for some eats and drinks and recounted the day and told tales from the big ring -the kind that only other riders can truly relate to and understand.
Day two was sunny and hot.Instead of hot balm I applied Sun Block and tried to stay in the shade.Heavy itinerary today Scratch-kilo-points and kierin
Up first is the Scratch Race, 7km 28 laps .My strategy is stick to Mike the MOTOR Nash as he has the most under the hood of all of us.It was a great strategy and would have paid off with a podium but I cracked on the last lap when he accelerated to catch the 3 guys 1/4 lap ahead of us and all my bullets were gone.A five man Scratch race is a shitty place to get any shelter for a strategic racer like me, (read not very strong).We averaged over 44kph and we were all pretty beat after.But my legs were really opened up for the Kilo which came way too soon after for all of us.I was still breathing hard while swapping my bars wheels and gearing for the 750m ITT.Mike was off first with a good time of 56:24 but I was not worried-I was about 3 seconds faster last year -next up was Julian and he was dragging his ass way behind mike.My turn And I knew all I had to do was just do it-nothing fancy-just the basics,a solid start with arms locked out for 3/4 of a lap to accelerate, get on the aero bars and hug the black line at the bottom going nice and smooth,upper body still,chin up eyes forward and finish with my last pedal stroke my legs have in them.The last lap should be unbearable but not so bad you slow down or lose form.55:983 later and I squeaked by Mike!
I had hopes for a faster time-but it was fast enough to do the job.
This time It was my MONEY race and my turn to skool Mike Nash.You really have to savour and appreciate these moments in life because you know they will not come around very often-not against Mike Nash anyhow.He was very happy for me.
I should mention that all the guys in my field are GREAT competitors and sportsman.They all truly rejoice with their competitors successes.Even when accidental scary shit happens we always give the benefit of the doubt.Never a harsh word is heard between Masters’ racers at the track.
Points race was next, 30 laps with a sprint every five laps points awarded for top 4 riders. 5,3,2,1.This should have been a good race for me but my tank was getting low fast.It may have been partially the heat but I was going BACKWARD.I could not muster one good challenge for a sprint position.I blew apart and waited for the pack to come around to jump back in.After a few laps and the bell rang for the next sprint and I could not answer the acceleration.Time for Damage control modei pulled out and went to the medical tent Save the legs for the next race the Kierin.I got some ice packs on me and cold drinks in me to cool off.Julian won the points race and looked totally wiped out-That’s good because he is my only competitor in the Kierin.
Kierin time rolls around fast and I got a 52×14 on.My original strategy was to jump early and surprise but with only one other guy that strategy is kinda shot.Plus last year I went to early and the wheels came off before the line.Thankfully on the start line two other Master A riders volunteered to join us and make it a real race instead of a motor paced match sprint.Chris Reid and Ian Robertson join us on the line.We drew our start positions and waited to jump on the motor bike as it came by.It’s only 8 laps and the motor bike paces the group up to 45kph and pulls off with 2 3/4 laps to go.Everyone seemed happy to stay where they were with Ian first followed by Me,the Julian then Chris.The bike pulls off on the back straight then it is game -on.I’m waiting for Julian to start to come by me -my plan is to take him up to the rail and trap him again like I did in the last match sprint.But he comes by too fast for me to react in time enough to force him up the track.I get on his wheel no problem and he is committed.He is going for the win and I’m on him like hair on a frickin Gorilla.The Bell is ringing and we are alone-Ian and Chris have missed the boat.Now I just gotta come around him.Coming into the last bank I start to jump and come around him but halfway through the bank a wall of wind hits me in the chest and he starts gaining.I drop in behind him for a second.I am running out of real estate fast!I hit it again out of the saddle and now we are in the straight and I am passing him.My front wheel is even with the back of his front wheel and I’m coming up slowly -and the finish line is coming up FAST!!
A pedal stroke later my tire is at his front hub and still gaining ground- My nose is reaching over the stem getting ready to throw my bike at the line.This is too close to call-
I throw-he throws But he gets it by about six inches.Hard guy to come around.
Oh well-Silver is nice! We give each other props on the bike.
Another year’s Nationals is over again.Provincials is coming up in two weeks though!