It was an action-packed Opening Weekend at the Kissena Velodrome this weekend. The weather was perfect, the turnout was high, and the racing was strong and competitive. I was racing in Category 4, and the weekend's lineup called for a Kilo (1,000 meter individual time trial), Team Sprint, Points Race, Scratch Race, Match Sprints, and a Miss and Out - all spread over two days, to accommodate nearly 100 racers. The exceptional weather, though welcome at first, became difficult to handle, and by Sunday afternoon it was hard to stay hydrated, energetic, and focused on the racing.
Maybe that contributed to the three crashes that happened, and unfortunately, three Kissena members will be off the bike for a while with two broken collarbones, a dislocated shoulder, and a few broken ribs shared amongst them. Best wishes for their quick recovery.
Sending friends off to the hospital is a downer way to end a weekend of racing, and it was hard to focus on the final race, the Miss and Out (also called Devil Take the Hindmost), even though I had to score omnium points in order to protect my placing, and possibly move up. I had to abandon hope for second place after Luke Stiles scored second in the Match Sprint, beating my teammate Al but losing to the weekend's strongman Colin Prensky, who won every race in the 4's, and got the best time on the kilo out of all categories - by three seconds.
Al had bumped me out of the sprint tournament in a good two-up competition. We played with each other, trackstanding and cat-and-mousing, and chatting about the tension. I fake-jumped to try to draw him out and bring up the speed, but at turn 1 he jumped hard around me and I couldn't follow fast enough. Had I reacted a bit quicker I could have gotten on his wheel, but he can keep accelerating and really dangle another rider behind him. When he crossed the line two bike lengths ahead of me I sat up and held out my hand, saluting him for an entertaining match and a strong sprint.
I recovered in the Miss and Out, my bread and butter. There are a lot of very strong riders in the 4's - a lot who I would generally consider to be stronger riders than I am. But the Miss and Out plays to my strengths - positioning, pack smarts, and endurance. By the time the twenty-rider field had been whittled down to only 5, I still had enough of a match to burn with a sprint that, though it didn't match Colin's, left the others behind. I took second and secured third place in the omnium.
The photo above, by Gary Berger, shows Todd the Polish Hammer and Andrew LaCorte, the 35+ National Sprint Champion, during the 1/2/3 Madison on Sunday.