With a string of successful weeks at the track, my focus in racing has shifted from being a part of the race to how to win each race. Every track race has it’s differences in length and format, and enough weeks of racing will show you where each of your competitors has a strength or weakness. Picking up on these subtleties can go a long way in making decisions in a race setting.
I find myself looking forward to the racing on Thursday more than anything else. It gives an immediate and tangible reason to train that a World Championship months down the road can’t quite reach. So I packed up and headed to the track last night with a goal of scoring another win and the omnium (overall). It took me about 17 years to get warmed up, so the first 2 races saw me take mediocre finishes. With the omnium out, I came into the next race hoping my legs had come around. There was an early attack, and as we pulled it back, I countered with all I had. I was reeled in with 2-to-go, but I had succeeded in breaking up the group. I found myself on the front with one lap to go. I looked back and decided to go for the win from a lap out based on who was on my wheel, what I know about them, and who was lurking behind. It worked, and I won. It’s crazy how quickly I was able process all of that information and start my acceleration.
The last race of the night was a 50 lap (+10mile) P123 Points Race with 25-30 starters. It was chaotic for the first 10-15 laps and 2 or 3 sprints, but calmed down as people started dropping out. I confess to thinking about dropping out for a long while, but each time I’d dig a bit deeper and tell myself I’d race ’till the next sprint. Somewhere around 15 to go I found myself reconnecting with the lead group that had been paired down to 8, I had to finish the race at this point. I suffered through another 5 km and 3 sprints, but I made it. I had not scored any points, but I had finished the hardest race I have completed.
Am I ready to move up to Cat2? With only 3 nights of racing left, I am planning to finish out the season as a 3 and apply for my upgrade to start 2011 as a 2. I’m still learning strategy in the 3’s and I’d like to keep it up ’till I’ve learned as much as I can.