Fat. Old. Outta-shape. I'm getting used to the sound of that.
Last night was the first night of racing here during the Tuesday Night Race Series at the San Diego Velodrome. I admit it, we have a crappy track in need of lots of repairs, but we HAVE a track and a lot of people who enjoy racing. Heck, we've even got stands full of people. Between 3 classes of Senior riders and one Junior class, we had about 80 racers last night and almost as many spectators in the bleachers. It was a lovely night for racing with warm weather and loud raucous fans. All that was missing was the smell of brauts on the grill. Next week.
First "event" of the night was the motorpaced "burnout". This is actually just a warm-up, but they turn it into something of an elimination event burning folks off until there are only four riders left to contest a final sprint as the motor pulls off and the elbows start flying. Well, with about 80 folks in the burnout, you can imagine how long an event that turns into. So I did my 15-20 minutes of motorpacing and pulled out. With that many riders of different ability levels and being the first event of the year, the field was just too sketchy to be comfortable. It was constantly inch-worming with crazy accelerations and then quick slow-downs of speed. It was just a bit too much to worry about, so I got my warm-up in and then went to the infield to stretch. Effectively, I wimped-out because I was on the wrong gear and was not interested in crashing.
Next up was a 9 lap Snowball, where each lap is worth points equal to the lap number; lap one = 1 point, lap 2 = 2 points, etc. The key is to either win a lot of laps or the bigger laps. I shot off the front and took lap four and thought I had 5 in the bag when I got swarmed at the line and had to settle for 4th place with my 4 points. Still, for an old guy racing with the A's, I felt good to get one lap anyway. I have a feeling some of those guys have been training. I can't prove anything yet, but I have my theories...
On to our third event; 4 laps plus a Miss and Out. This is where the last rider across the finish line is pulled form the race each lap until there are three riders left to sprint for the win. First though, they make you do four "parade" laps which turn into a thunder clap of speed to shed people early. Not one of my favorite events or events I am particularly good at, I stuck around until they pulled about 6-7 folks before I voluntarily left the field. I'm just not brave enough this early in the year to make sure I stay at the front and bang on folks to not get eliminated.
The fourth and final event of the night, the Main Attraction of the circus, was a 45 lap Points Race. Now, this is a pain fest. For a sprinter, this is abject horror. It's about 35 laps more than I ever feel like doing. You sprint every five laps for points going four riders deep (5, 3, 2 and 1) and/or you try to go up a lap (or more if you're a real jerk who's been training and is really fit and want to have people hate you). As we crossed the finish line for the 4th lap they announced a beer prime (pronounced "preem" and is just a prize) to the winner of the lap. As if I had been fired from a cannon, I rocketed off the front of the field and crossed the line first for my beer. You just can't taunt me like that. I have some pride after all. The next lap was a point lap and I held on for 4th and my one single point of the event. I was off the back a few laps later and out of the race and in the stands waiting for my beer after about 12 laps.
The best part of the night, winning a beer excluded, was the fact that we had so many people there to watch. I had my own little cheering section of friends and felt like a slow, fat, outta-shape rock star. What a blast. I love track racing.
If you're in San Diego one Tuesday night and want to see something different and fun, we start racing around 6:30PM. I promise you'll have a good time watching. You'll have even more fun if you bring your track bike and enter the race.
Next week we'll see if I can complete a few more laps without hurting my self.