Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Last Unicorn at the Omnium

This last weekend I competed in the Victorian Men's Omnium Championship at the DISC velodrome. The Omnium is supposed to be a test of the best all around racer with five events ranging from a flying 200m flat out sprint to an individual pursuit.

The events scheduled for my masters athlete age group were:
  • 500m time trial
  • flying 200m
  • 5km scratch race
  • 2km individual pursuit
  • 5km points race
The final points race was run as a second scratch race due to the low number of participants in our age group.

I'll cut to the chase, I finished last. Last in my age group, last in every event. I feel like I ought to feel bad about this but the truth is that I don't. I enjoyed the day immensely. I learned a lot about racing at championships and I had the help,advice, friendship and support of a whole lot of great people.

My 500m time trial was ok but slower than everyone else. Starts were hand-held as there were not enough officials to operate the start gates. Starting without a gate was a bit of a new experience but not too hard to get my head around. The trick was to not push backward at all as is possible with a gate. I felt strong and took a fairly good line but finished with that feeling that I would go faster if I just had another crack at it. Time 41.350 seconds.

Flying 200m - Photo Leanne Cole

The Flying 200m is all over way too quickly. Nice entry, nice line, not enough speed. Again, I have to learn to do my best effort at the first attempt. Time 13.590 seconds.

Scratch race 20 laps, finished last. I rode as near to a perfect race as I could. I grabbed a good wheel at the start and clung to it for all I was worth. I had a rider spend around 5 laps trying his best to take that wheel from me but I withstood the pressure. I did NO work. This is a big deal for me because I very often end up bridging gaps or chasing, only to have nothing left when things get serious. So it was that I ended up near the front with a lap to go and no serious damage. I just wasn't fast enough, getting passed on the run to the line.

2km Individual Pursuit. This was the reason I was here. I really wanted a good crack at the pursuit before the Victorian titles in late February and this was the chance. Before the day I had thought that a 2:44 time would be something to aim for. I broke the start, badly, was recalled and had to start again. The second time I got away cleanly but really overcooked my second lap. By lap four I was already suffering badly and slowing down. At lap seven the wheels really fell off and I dropped into the 21 second area. In the end I finished with 2:44.842. At the upper end of what I thought was a good target but a big personal best and a time I can clearly improve on with a well paced ride. Position - last.

2km Individual Pursuit - Photo Leanne Cole

The final scratch race was pretty much a repeat of the first but I didn't have quite such a good wheel to follow. Yet again when the sprint was on, I had nothing to give. Position last.

So, with a perfect score as far as my position in the racing went, what was I doing here? Why bother? It occurred to me more than once during the day that I could expend considerably less energy and emotion for the same results.

The answer lay inside me and inside those around me. I did it because I love it. The test of pushing myself to the limit, finding what I'm capable of draws me in. More than this, being surrounded by others doing the same thing builds a bond that's more than competitiveness. It's a fellowship of explorers, people who understand exactly what territory I'm exploring. Finally, I had a small group of friends, coaches, coach's coaches, and interested parties who gave me encouragement, advice and helped me crack a smile when my legs felt like overcooked spaghetti.

All of this melted into a lovely, and magical day of riding where I set a PB and learned fron the many new experiences. Thanks to everyone who supported me, encouraged me, yelled at me and whupped my arse. I'll be back again and I won't come last.

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1 comment:

Surly Dave said...

Nice work all the same. Sounds like a lot of fun. Good to see you blogging again.