Labor Day Track Meet, 2015.
If you’ve ever watched track racing at the Olympics you’ll know that the mass start races like the Madison or the Points Race or competitions such as the Omnium can be hideously complex to follow. It’s never quite clear who’s in the lead and who is at the back or what is going on.
Well, sometimes it isn’t any clearer for the riders on the track either.
So it was for me at the 51st Labor Day Track Meeting at the Kissena Velodrome in Queens, NY. Let it be known that this is an expertly organized meet. Alan Atwood and his associated team of marshals really know how to keep an afternoon’s racing going. Nice job guys.
This would be my last track race as a Cat 5 and barring some incredible uptick in my fortunes perhaps my last chance to take a podium spot. I was determined not to miss out.
The event took the form of a three race Omnium: a scratch, a course de primes, and a points race. Top finishers in each race would be awarded Omnium points with the rider attaining the most Omnium points at the end declared the winner.
Because the Cat 5 field only consisted of five riders we were mixed in with the Cat 4s and therein lay the problem.
The commissars would score the categories separately but for those in the race the challenge was to figure out who was who. After all, we only had to beat the riders in our own category.
I found myself hopelessly boxed in on the final lap of the scratch race but somehow managed to squirm through a gap and take fourth place behind three Cat 4s. But as I returned to the track center I was approached by another rider who felt that I had impeded his progress in the race by cutting across his line. When the results were posted I saw that I did not feature in the top six. It seemed that the race commissars deemed my move to be illegal and I had been demoted – but by how much I couldn’t tell. Where I stood in the Omnium standings was a mystery.
The second race was a course de primes: essentially a scratch race with a series of prime laps. I determined to sit out the primes entirely and solely focus on the final placings. At the bell I sat in fifth position and put in a huge effort managing to over take three riders on the back straight and take second place overall.
At this point it came down to math. Finishing first among the Cat 5s in the final race would probably be enough to give me top spot on the podium but anything less and I risked losing out.
My strategy in the points race is to sit in for the first set and try to finish strong. On the first sprint lap another Cat 5 rider (no. 329) took off and snatched fourth spot. This meant that I would have to finish ahead of him in both remaining sprint laps and score in at least one of them. Game on.
I sat on his wheel for the next three laps and as he took off for the next sprint I clawed myself level and just pipped him to the line by a hair.
It would now come down to the final lap. Whoever finished ahead would win the Cat 5 Omnium. Here it seems that my initial strategy paid off. I stayed on my rival’s wheel and this time when the bell rang I had no trouble dropping him in the dash for the line giving me top spot in the Cat 5 Omnium.
Stepping onto the podium wearing the Twin Six colors was a wonderful moment. Thanks Ryan and Brent for giving me the chance to represent such a great company.