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How the Race Was Won

Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to track bike crit racing.

Ray, James and myself were lucky enough to travel overseas earlier this year and experience what the format of racing has to offer. Immediately it was something we thought would work well here and probably more importantly it was something we desperately wanted to do.

It's long been spoken about but nothing ever seemed to get off the ground. We decided to put on an unofficial race to test the waters and see if our enthusiasm was reciprocated within the community, it was.

I contacted Dan Wilkins from Melbourne Cycling League and we decided that we would put one on the back of the Tour of Melbourne.

The course was set, permits signed and it was on!

The week leading up was full of frantic messages between the HBC, MCL and Skid.cc camps making sure we had everything ticked off and that the day would run smoothly.

I personally felt really nervous, similar to the days leading up to the Red Hook Crit in Brooklyn. I guess it's the rarity of these events that makes me place more importance on them.

 

Race Day

 

We rolled up to the car park at Caribbean Business Park at 10:30am and already we could see a few eager racers and spectators waiting for registration at 11am.

The car park slowly filled up and people began putting on race numbers and testing the course. The course was 2.3km with 2 roundabout hairpins, 1 left and 1 right 90 degree corner.

 

Photo by @brothersempire on Instagram

 

Photo by @connoor on Instagram

 

Racers were discussing gearing and how best to attack the corners. One of my favourite aspects of racing a fixed gear crit is that you must choose your gear before the race and that's it. If you get it wrong then your race may be over from the start.

 

Photo by @brothersempire on Instagram

 

Race briefing followed by a final bike check and the racers rolled up to the start line.

This being an open and ungraded event meant that a variety of abilities and fitness levels would be racing together. 

 

 

 

Photo by @connoor on Instagram

 

We did 1 neutral lap behind the Jaguar provided by the Stillwell Motor Group and as we crossed the start / finish line the race began. 

 

 

Photo by @brothersempire on Instagram

 

From this point on I can only speak about my race experience so I'll try to make it as interesting as possible.

For some reason I attacked as we crossed the start line and set the pace on the front into the head wind. The pack was strung out leading into the first roundabout. I then swung off the front and let the next few riders come though. I slotted back into 4th place and prepared myself for 30 minutes of pain.

 

Photo by @brothersempire on Instagram

 

Photo by @connoor on Instagram

 

Unintentionally my early attack left me in a group of 4 riders off the front. I knew that with the mix of abilities, groups would form and the race would split up pretty quickly. 

I was riding with Jensen Plowright, Charlie Barber and Harry Scott. All 3 riders I have raced with before and inside I knew that I wouldn't be taking the win.

I tried to sit in and just last as long as I could. We rode a few laps taking turns on the front and increasing the gap we had on the rest. Coming out of the roundabouts I could see the race had been destroyed and there were several small groups of riders all working to try and chase back the riders they could see ahead.

 

Photo by @brothersempire on Instagram

 

Jensen put in an attack and Charlie went with him, this left me and Harry trying to chase them back. The next 15 minutes of racing was pretty much this. Harry and I would take turns on the front and every corner try and push it a bit harder to gain some time back. It didn't work. 

 

 

Photo by @connoor on Instagram

 

On the bell lap Harry picked up the pace and dropped me. I could see him maybe 50m ahead of me the whole time but I just didn't have it in the legs to close him down. I rolled across the finish line struggling for breath but so happy that I had got through the race having remained on my bike and 4th place isn't to bad.

 

Jensen Plowright took the win in a dominant performance. He deserves some extra credit having won the U19 Australasian 6 day the night before. He has a bright future.

 

Photo by @connoor on Instagram

 

Photo by @brothersempire on Instagram

 

Charlie Barber took 2nd place just behind Jensen. Charlie told me this was his first time riding a track bike on the road. A fantastic effort from another junior! 

 

Photo by Adam Macleod

 

Harry Scott who rides for us took 3rd. This was Harry's first track bike crit.

 

Photo by @connoor on Instagram

 

After I crossed the finish line I circled back around to see Carina cross the line taking out 1st place for the Women.

Carina rode a fantastic race as the only female, setting the bench mark for women who want to try this style of racing.

 

Photo by @brothersempire on Instagram

 

Eventually all riders had crossed the finish line with applause from all the spectators and riders.

We announced the place getters and thanked everyone for coming, packed up and that was it.

 

 

Back at the HBC Studio we debriefed and immediately spoke about the next one.

It will be coming soon!

 

Thanks everyone who raced, supported and volunteered!

Thanks Dan and the team at Melbourne Cycling League

Thanks Cycling Victoria

Thanks Stillwell Motor Group

 

 

 Photo by @connoor on Instagram

 

Photo by Adam Macleod

 

Photo by Adam Macleod

 

Photo by Adam Macleod

 

 

Photo by @connoor on Instagram

 

 Photo by @connoor on Instagram

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