MRTL 20th January 2017
The Manchester Regional Track League is a winter racing league based at the velodrome in Manchester. There are 2 divisions, a first and premier. The first division races are on Friday evenings, the premier on Tuesdays. The first division has riders from BC 1st category down, of all ages and genders. The division is divided in to 4 groups, group 1 being the slowest and group 4 the fastest. It is a great set up as, no matter how good you are (or not) there is always a group that is suitable; if you perform consistently well in one group you will get moved up and vice versa. Once you get really quick you can get moved to the Tuesday night premier league to race against professionals and Olympic standard riders. The races are all short and sharp so fantastic for getting some speed in the legs. The organisation of the evening is great which means there are 5 short races for each group so you are constantly on and off the track and making big efforts.
The last time I raced in the league was about 5 years ago and at the end of that season I had just been promoted I think to group 3 but I’m not certain. Yesterday, as I have no recent pedigree I was put in to group 1 with about 30 other riders. Earlier in the day I upped my gear from the SQT standard of 49 x 15 to 50 x 15 which is what I used to race with. Big mistake.
I arrived at the velodrome, rollers set up and all ready by 5.30 and by this time the D was getting crowded already, people come from all over the country for the league. I got on the rollers for a very long warm up; my legs really need it, only stopping for 5 minutes to hand in my licence and pin my numbers on. At 7.00 the track is open for warm up, the commissaires allowing 30 – 40 riders on at a time for a 10 minute warm up. This is a very fast warm up and really gets you breathing. It was as soon as I got on the track that I realised I was overgeared. ‘Ah well, see how I get on’, I thought.
Very soon it was my first event; a 16 lap points race with a sprint every 4 laps. All events start on a rolling basis. I got 3rd place in the first sprint and it came quite easily, the second sprint, 3rd place again. 3rd sprint, nothing there, I couldn’t get on top of the gear. I finished the race in 5th place and was fairly pleased as it was my first outing for a very long time. Straight off the track and on to the rollers.
Event 2 was a 12 lap Course des Primes with ½ point on each lap except on last lap which awarded 1½ points. I thought I wouldn’t go for the first sprint to fight with lots of excited fresh legs, I would wait for the 2nd, unfortunately this seemed to be something several other people had thought of. I got 3rd place in that, a massive effort, not managing to get the gear going. The next sprint, 3rd place again, heart up in the 180’s. I decided to sit in for the rest of the race and go for the final sprint. 5th on the line. Nothing from the race. Legs and lungs on fire. Quick spin on the rollers.
Race 3 was a 16 lap scratch. My legs feeling not too bad until things really kicked off with about 6 laps to go at which time I again could not get on top of it and couldn’t go with the last move, finishing in 6th place. Rollers. Wiping sweat from eyes.
Event 4. A 1km scratch. Massive tactical error. 4 laps is not a long way when it goes hard from the gun and you have set off towards the back of the field. I managed to get my way up to 7th place by the end but I was never in with a shout at the front. Go and sit in chair, breathing like a stranger on a 1970’s phone call.
Finally, event 5, the Elimination race. Historically I have performed well in these and so was looking forward to it. As it turned out my wasted legs and poor tactics let me down and I finished a disappointing 7th.
I was really pleased to get back racing on the track, it’s a fantastic workout and really helps me with focus during the winter months. Tactically and position-wise on track there were things that came back to me as I was riding, things I shall remember for next time. Also for next time I shall reduce my gear again!
Max HR 189, max cadence 129, max speed 34.9mph.