Pompey Track Ray Martin - 11th April - Should have...Could have...Would have...

Photos Courtesy of Neil Andrews - He takes some great pics!
This Wednesday saw eight Wightlink Race Team riders travel over to Pompey for the Ray Martin Distance League series. It was my first time there, and it turned out to be a bit of a baptism of fire...

Arriving in Portsmouth, black clouds were brewing directly over the Mountbatten Centre track, and as we rode in the gate the first spatters of rain fell....then the heavens opened and hailstorms came pouring down. The Juniors were out doing their race on the track and it didn't look like much fun; in fact their race was cut short as the conditions worsened. Luckily by the start of our race it had stopped raining...just, and after one quick "warm-up" lap (I didn't warm up at all), we were lining up to start.

The pace from-the-off picked up pretty quick, it wasn't long before we were rolling round the track at 25mph or so. I sat in the main pack for the first few laps, then as attacks started going off the front I began to move up, eager not to be caught out if a break-away was to get off the front. I was too eager, that much is clear now, I sat a few back from the front for a lot of laps, and did a fair few pulls in position one too. I should have sat in, should have conserved energy.

After what I guess was about 15 minutes (my bike-computer was rebelling against the weather) I found myself on the front again, and as the pace had dropped very slightly I thought I would give a breakaway a go...I put the hammer down and drew out a gap, before long I had half a lap up. Then that was it, I hung there, heart rate at around 90% max for four or five laps; I wonder looking back on it if I could have managed one more dig, could have got round and made it a whole lap, but I think it was very unlikely, it would have needed some good disruption of the speed in the main chasing pack for it to have worked.

So after five laps I sat up, pretty exhausted. I should have have stayed in the main pack, been sensible and saved myself.

As the race continued I ended up being on the front more than I should have been...again! Perhaps it's nerves, perhaps it's adrenaline, but I seem to be drawn to the front of the pack like a magnet. Anyway, I helped chase down a few breakaway attempts, and before long it was the final five laps and we were all back as one big group as the pace picked up.

When the board went up with three laps to go I was near the front, but not as near as I should have been...for once! (I'm getting this front of the pack thing all wrong!). With two laps to go I was sitting in about seventh. Then in the final lap as the sprinting started I was stuck, boxed in by a few riders above me I was on the inside of the track and had riders sweeping over the top of me as we went into the final bend. I sprinted in the little pack that was holding me in, but at best I think I got 15th or so. I finished feeling like I had more to give, annoyed that I had wasted energy on the breakaway attempt and that I had let myself get boxed in on the sprint.

That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it; despite all that, the rain and the hail it was a fantastic race...one hell of an adrenaline fuelled workout, and I learnt a huge amount. I could have done better, but then I'm still new to this track racing stuff: it's a lot easier tactics in a cross-country race, you just go as fast as you can and effectively end up time-trialling against yourself most of the time.

There is a Pompey track almost every week from now until September though, so I've got plenty of time to practise...bring on next Wednesday!


  1. Neil "he takes some great pics" Andrews14 April 2012 at 21:34

    Another good report of your race. It was really enjoyable to watch and great that there were no crashes. Harry also feels drawn to the front and says to himself each race that he will hold back but ends up doing too much work. There are guys that just sit in the pack, do bugger all and then bitch about the other riders and seem happy to ride that way. Unfortunately they are also the ones that box better riders in as they are just traffic without the fitness to react to breaks and sprints.
    Hey, there's always next Wednesday !
    Ps. Glad you like the pictures.


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