Thursday, March 22, 2007
I was pretty keen to do the NZ track champs when I heard that they were going to be held in the new covered velodrome in Invercargill, but totally dismissed the idea after Kay's job came to an end in December. I knew it was an extravagance we couldn't afford.
Rachel rang the weekend before the track champs started and asked if I would be interested in driving the van loaded with bikes and two young'ns down to Invercargill. Simon had wrecked his back and couldn't drive down the van! Simon was particularly gutted as he had some good form. As I would be spending 4 days driving the bikes and riders down there and back, the club would subsidise my accommodation while there. I initially dismissed the idea as my brownie point collection was not looking good. In the end my long suffering wife told me to go, as I could at least visit my Aunt who had been having treatment for her cancer at Invercargill, and I could stay with my brother on the way there and back, who also had not been well.
That next week was a pretty damn hectic. I had to prep my TT bike for the event I had actually been training for (Saturdays TT in Masterton), as well as build up my track bike into something competitive by borrowing fruity parts from most of the trackies in Wellington. Trackies are great like that. Bars, wheels, chains.... not much of my original bike remained. I also had to load up the van kindly lent to us by Marty McDonald to ferry the gear down. Bikes, wheels rollers and other inanimate objects were jammed into the back along with Nick and Troy who managed to keep me fully entertained for the 2500kms we did in the van. They unmercifully ribbed each other constantly about the size of each others legs and their inability to own up when the air turned foul. I have to admit to being worried on the way back when Nick started for the first time to eat non-processed food, eg Apples.... Nick's diet up until then had consisted solely of Coke and Subway.
The research I had done before heading south had unearthed nothing about the kinds of times I expected would be competitive in my 3km pursuit. There were no results to be found on the Cycling Southland Website. We tend to forget we probably have the best cycling club website in NZ thanks to Jonno. http://www.pnp.org.nz
I didn't race until the Friday, so I had time to try some bigger gears. We arrived at about 4pm (having left Christchurch at 7.30 am) and got on the track at 8pm on the Monday night! I started by going up 2.5 inches in my gearing and I was still spinning pretty damn fast on a 3/4 length effort. After ringing up Aaron for advice, I went up another inch in another effort a few days later.
I was now looking at splits of 18 seconds flat per 250 metre lap. This was my best case scenario. If I blew, I thought I could come under 3.46, bearing in mind my fastest time in Wellington was 4.06 . Yep, it was a fast track. At the last minute Mike Byrne offered me his Teschner with Mavic and Zen wheels on it... possibly one of the fruitiest bikes there, but I decided against it. It had taken me a week to build up my bike, and I was happy with my aero position on it. I had Aarons old rear Ghibli so that was pretty cool. Luckily I did a few laps in the morning with my contact lenses in, as they dried up with the heat of the enclosed velodrome. There was an emergency trip by Mark back to the Motel to get my specs which meant not using the visor on my new lid.
The guy who I thought would win my event was Ray Dunstan. He wins the TT in our age group every year at the Road nats... (every year except this year). Just my luck. I didn't go down to Palmerston South, but Mike Sim did, and got Rays scalp. Ray rode the pursuit just before me. I sat in the hotseat and watched him shorten the Masters 2 record by 24 seconds! His time was sharp. 3.39. It was a PB for him by 3 seconds and would have given him a silver at the world masters in Manchester last year. Ray has a duel going with NZ's current top women's pursuiter, Alison Shanks. We think he is now in front of Ali by a few hundreths!
I knew I would have to be firing to beat Ray. My splits were for a 3.41, but I would see what happened. After telling Troy and Nick that the three rules of pursuiting are....
1. Dont start too hard, 2. Dont start too hard, and 3. Dont start too hard.... I started too hard....
Not that hard, but 17's when I was supposed to be doing 18 flat. As you would expect, as I tired my times drifted up.... I wasn't dying but it was getting harder.... I was starting to think about looking for the lap board so I could see how many I had to hang on for...... BUMMER! Only one lap to go... I dug it in and was in hi 17s again... too late, it was already over. Time flies when you are having fun.... or not...
3.44.01. In the end I came 2nd and pushed Murray Steele into 3rd spot. Apparently Murray got silver in the teams pursuit at the Commonwealth Games in 82'? Anyway. My mum was watching, and apparently the guys doing the commentary were getting pretty excited as the unknown from Wellington was mowing down the local guy (Mike Lormans). I nearly caught him on the line. As vets, we didn't do heats, and he didn't medal in the end. 9 seconds seemed to be the difference if you caught someone over the 12 laps.
Jville Cycles satanic mechanic Mark Humphries did a great job of yelling my splits. Its damn hard to hear with the noise of the crowd and the wind blasting around your ears.
Going back thru my pursuit calculator, I come out with an average of 18.3 second laps, an average speed of 48.21 kmh. (Sarah Ulmers WR is about 52 kmh). It looks safe to me!
Some of the guys down there are gnarly looking old buggers. I think its the climate. They look like they are 10 years older than they really are. We are lucky we have such a mild climate here in Wellington.... shame about the wind tho! If the drome down there wasn't covered we would have been lucky to get 1 days racing in. We had rain and hail and artic winds during in the week.
We had a great time and Shane Riches and Sepp Hiribar both tore the legs off the opposition in heats and finals, once again, against guys that had represented NZ at the very highest level..... Shanes heat was scary, he just dropped them by so much. Maybe too much? They certainly would have had an eye on him for the final! He was racing some seriously fast guys that had muscles on their muscles. Shanes cooking had to be experienced to be believed. Lasagne with home made pasta! Yummmmmm.
I expressed concern to Sepp that the guy he was racing had a sprint bronze from the Commonwealth Games and would have tactics we could only dream about. Sepp told me to relax. Sprinting is an intuitive thing. Not something to worry about.
A gold and an NZ record in the Master 2 515m scratch proved him right!
Paulas efforts in the AWD were amazing too, especially since she had food poisoning the day before she raced!
Thanks to all the guys that lent us bits and supported us. There was a petition going around to get the event back to Invercargill for next year. If it was anywhere else this year most of it would have been rained out.
More photos here