Velodrome racing, the easiest way to go very fast on a bike. There was quite a turn up this day in the beautiful facility in Apeldoorn. A wide, smooth track, with wide corners and 250 metres in length. I got there by train, together with David Hembrow and my Fuego.
Yivalté already was pretty much set-up for racing. Last thing left to do was drop the chain (one allen bolt) and lower the seat. (a quick release tensioner) I really dislike starting on a velodrome and riding in traffic with people at different speeds, so I only did a short warm-up combined with a shake down of the Fuego. Everything seemed to work and the speedometer showed satisfying numbers.
The start of the 1000m went better than I'd expected. I'd never started this close to a corner before, but I managed to pick up some speed and do a reasonable first lap. I was doing about 53km/h and didn't go to high in the corners. It felt like a fast one, without to much effort. However, the timekeeping tolled a different story. I'd made a tiny mistake when I'd adjusted the wheel size, my speed wasn't as high as I thought it was. It turned out that I was 3 whole seconds slower than my personal best of 1:15:xx, what a bugger...
Being that slow had an bright side, I'd be racing in the 'slow' criterium, or turtles as I like to call them. The guys we call 'hazen' (hares) are so fast that it almost becomes a bit scary. I'd been riding with them a couple of times before and survived. You could even say I had a great time with them. But now I had the chance to race in a slightly less stressful way.
The start was a mess. For a reason I do not know, there was a re-start. Also this start didn't go that well. Id did give me the chance to turn on my camera! Now I could see afterwards how a got stuck behind slow riders and lost contact with the fastest riders. I could also see how that it took me eight minutes to catch up with them again.
There was time to lay my head back and propelling myself around and around at 45-46km/h. A quick glance at my watch learned that my heart rate was 183. The big pump seems to do that when I'm doing something I can continue doing for quite a while. It beats slightly faster, 193 or so, when I had to accelerate. Overtaking is a energy consuming thing to do, you have to climb the corners to overtake people. Problem, well not really a problem, this is racing, is that I had to overtake a lot of people many times. Keeping that in mind, I should be able to do 46km/h for an hour straight if I had a track of my own. Maybe a little bit of extra training, tuning, and wishful thinking, but it should be possible.
We, the leading three, kept going around and around for lap after lap. A man on a M5 couldn't keep up, a woman on a different M5 could. I thought I could go faster, but why should I do that if I'm behind a seriously fast rider? Or wasn't he? He'd probably have a fabulous finale and lap us all, several times.
He didn't, he dropped back with 5 minutes to go. He wasn't planning to go really fast today. Something with an old wound and a training schedule. Anyway, it let me leading the pack again, or what left of it. I was able to maintain the speed I was doing in the slipstream! With a little more than one minute to go, the fast lady behind me decided to go for it. And she left, the gap grew to 1.8 seconds and I couldn't catch up anymore. I finished third, she was second. A man in a Quest was first, but that's, as far as I'm concerned, a different category.
It was a fine race. The start could have been a lot better, let's try that again in 4 weeks time. I averaged 43.967km/h. Keeping in mind all the overtaking, that's pretty good. I did 44.7 last year, without overtaking a single rider. That was one of the times I raced in the fast group. So I could say that I did better than last year. And I like the sound of that. Full results can be found here.
Now, turn on your speakers and watch the video I made. It features on-boards from my Fuego from my horribly slow 1000m and the first 15 minutes of the 40 minute 'slow group' criterium. Last part shows some the the fast group's criterium.