Monday, 11 February 2013

Halfway There

After competing at eight track championships in Invercargill over the past six years, it has become almost a tradition in my life to pack up and head South for the summer. So it was with great familiarity and self-assurance this year that I boarded the plane for the land of alveolar trills and cheese rolls. But this time, it was to try my luck outside the mild confines of the Junior ranks.

My preparation for Nationals this year was far from perfect. By the time I had finished building my diesel engine by way of road tours and training, I was left with a tightfisted two weeks to blow the cobwebs out of my track legs. Needless to say, I was a bit short on zing. As a result, I was thrown well outside of my comfort zone in the very explosive Individual Pursuit, and fell victim to a somewhat premature lactic attack. But even so, I pulled off a twenty-three second PB (my only ever attempt at the 3000m was on a concrete track in what seemed like a clockwise hurricane, but I will claim it nonetheless), with a commendable time of 3.46, placing me eighth.

I raced the 500m TT that evening, and thought this summed it up pretty well.

My lack of punch also meant I had to hit the points and scratch races from a different angle; one I'm not particularly used to. Or fond of. But the only way I saw myself getting across the line first was by getting across the line alone. So twice I found myself dangling half a lap ahead of the field in an attempt to pick up some points, albeit the hard way. I may not have put on a medal winning show, but I think I deserve some sort of record for the hardest fifth place anyone has ridden for.

The scratch race, as one would have guessed, came down to the usual bunch kick. However, this kick came somewhere around six laps out from the finish, most of which I spent jammed on the inside waiting for anything close to a gap to open up. But nothing did, so coming out of the last corner I decided to go through a gap that didn't exist, ping ponged between the two back discs I had wedged my way into, and rolled across for third.

I know, and this photo reinforces, that I was lucky to take the bronze with such a close finish. But I was still disappointed that I hadn't barged my way into a better position earlier. I had a surprising amount of kick left in me that went to waste, but that's all part of scratch racing. They are anything but predictable.

I finished the championships off with a bronze in the Team Pursuit, with Gemma Dudley and Maxyna Cottam - the first WCNI team we've ever had.

Next up is the Omnium Nationals, in Invercargill once again, in a few weeks time. Hopefully, with a bit more pep in my pins, I'll be more of a force to be reckoned with. There is work to do yet, though - and a few obnoxious northerlies yet to be sworn at.



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