Monday, May 23, 2016

RockTape Friday Night Racing, 5/13/2016

By Dennis Pedersen

Most Friday Night races at Hellyer include only mass-start races, not my specialty, sprints. But Michael Hernandez made them happen this time! And for just $10 entry!

Driving to San Jose after work in Watsonville I felt drowsy, and perhaps still a bit sore from my Tuesday weights workout. It was a little windy at Hellyer Park, and cool, maybe 67 degrees dropping to 57 degrees or so after sunset.

22 riders contested the sprint tournament; an impressive turnout! That resulted in most heats being 3-rider races, for just 2 laps instead of the usual 3 laps. Also, to save time, we didn't do the usual seeding through flying 200 m time trials, instead we just used our most recent 200 m times. Since several really fast guys showed up, I was pushed down to Heat 5 (out of 7 heats) in the first round, after the fast guys raced. I rode in 96" gearing for all sprints (50x14 teeth).

First Round
I lined up on the rail behind Mark Koenig and Devin Armstrong, as we all had similar 200 m times (in a strict tournament slowest and fastest are matched, then second-slowest and second-fastest, etc.). I stayed up high on the banking, by the rail, while Mark dropped low, and Devin stayed in the middle. After just a few yards Devin went for it, pushing a pretty hard pace. I followed him, pushing hard, drafting fairly closely at first. Mark was surprised and never caught us. I tried to maintain a gap to Devin as I followed, but allowed it to shrink, which makes passing harder as I lose the option of making a running start when passing him. It's a bit tricky to know when to follow closely and when to drop back a bit. But I managed to barely pass Devin with half lap to go and take the win, hitting 35.3 mph max.

Leading Devin and Mark, mouth agape.

Second Round
These were 2-up races, since we'd bumped the other guys out of the tournament. I was matched up against Tyler Marchesano, as he had won his heat just as I had won mine, advancing us both to this round. I followed him, staying high on the rail, while he positioned himself low on the track at first. At 1-1/2 lap to go he decided to move higher, next to me, but I turned left, below him, to avoid being pinned against the rail, then shot ahead of him up to the rail again and slowed, half-wheeling him just below and partly behind me. Out of turn 4 I dropped down the banking past him completely and into a solid lead for the last lap, which I held for the win, hitting 36.5 mph max.

Leading Tyler.

Third Round (Semi-Finals)
Now I was matched against Zach McClendon and George Miranda who had also advanced from both rounds. We were back to 3-up races, to save time. Zach took the low line, in the sprinter's lane, with George following him. Starting from the back I rode on the rail, and pushed the pace, forcing Zach to speed up to avoid giving me a dominant pass opportunity. George came uptrack to pin me in turn 3, almost bumping me, but I pushed back and dropped out of 4 and passed George... but Zach caught me on the back straight for the win. We hit 36.3 max. (The results showed me as 3rd, but that's in error.)

Me on the rail, George in the middle, Zach goes low.

Fourth Round (Minor Final)
Chris Gaitos, George Miranda and I, all fighting for the bronze as we'd all lost our previous rounds and were no longer in contention for gold or silver. I started from the middle and stayed on the rail while they rode down in the sprinters lane. Almost just like in the third round, George rode uptrack to me, but I again dropped out of turn 4, past them both. But Chris caught me on back straight, and George passed me at finish as my legs caught on fire. I had to lie down right afterward. I had only hit 34.6 mph max, the most I could, but 2 mph slower than before. Ugh!

Ethan Boyles ended up winning the overall sprint tournament, with Zach 2nd, and Chris 3rd. I think I ended up 4th overall, unofficially. Alex Chiu posted photos here.

All in all, it was a great workout. But I think maybe racing in 94" gears would have been better that day, given the wind, coolness, and my tired legs.

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