Last Sunday (13th August), four of us took to the track at Herne Hill to take part in NLTCBMBC’s Thundertrack III. Four events made it pretty easy to split the work when writing this blog post, so here goes:
Scratch Race (10 Laps) – Hayley Whitehorn
‘Twas a beautiful day but I wasn’t feeling so beautiful. Getting in at 3am the night before from a friend’s leaving party, and the mixture of spirits sitting in my stomach almost made me want to spectate instead of race. “Just see how the scratch race goes” I thought to myself, “it’s only 10 laps, take it easy.” Rolling from the back, we all took the first lap gently to get warmed up; get used to riding right on each other’s wheels and adapt to each other’s riding styles. There were a couple of new faces so it was unpredictable as to what would happen. Thankfully everyone was riding wonderfully, taking turns on the front, filling in gaps. I left a fair few gaps as I was trying to get with it without throwing up. Having a bubble of pink and black jerseys around me reassured me; my teammates and I were in this together and it was gonna be fun no matter what.
Then before we knew it, there were three laps to go and the pace had quickened. I was feeling comfortable despite my stomach getting a bit dicky from last night’s alcohol. The changes at the front shortened slightly, and the pace stepped up again. The bell rang and the heat was on. Literally. It was a scorchio day in London (lolwut). I got myself on NLTCBMBC Caz’s wheel and we took the final bend into a sprint. Hannah had climbed up the banking and pulled ahead – she’s a great sprinter with superb technique – and Caz was by her side. I knew I wasn’t gonna pull it out of the bag so I thought “better hold on to my position” and sprinted to third place. Yes! I could come off the track and get some water. Sweet H2O. Releasing me from the dry mouth curse of the alcohol gods.
(Photo: Jess Morgan/NLTCBMBC)
Keirin – Rosi Digne-Malcolm
Keirin is one of my favourite races. Six riders. Three laps of the track. The first two laps behind a derny, and on the last lap, sprint for glory. Well that was the plan anyway. The race was split into two qualifying heats, followed by a final round after the Devil. So to qualifying. The first three riders from each heat go through to the final. No pressure then! Hayley and Yewande made it through easy in the first heat, then it was up to Feeney and me to make it through in the second. We had to be held up at the start which made me nervous, and I nearly jumped out of my skin when the gun went off. Go legs go! We all filed into a polite paceline for the first two laps. Didn’t really feel like a race for a while…then the derny pulled off and all hell broke loose. Well, as much hell as you can get from five B cats in the Sunday sun. I got boxed in at half a lap to go and had to pull back, then round the last corner I put in a massive effort to try and come over the top of everyone. I saw Feeney smashing it ahead of me and I just made third place. Job done, sort of.
After qualifying the Devil almost killed me, so the Keirin final wasn’t exactly filling me with confidence. There were four Velociposse out of six riders in the race though, so go us! I knew the others were totally on top of their game though and it’d be tough to get a good result. This time there was no politeness, there was jostling from the start and my poor positioning and tired legs let me down. But I clung on and as we approached the finish line, Feeney and Hayley stormed it to take 3rd and 4th. Feeney even popped a wheelie over the line! I limped over in 5th and Yewande took 6th (saving herself for points smashiness later?). Lots to learn, lots of fun. That’s racing though right?
Devil (Elimination Race) – Elly Feeney
The devil is a really stressful race when you think about it, each lap you’re fighting to remain in the race, no opportunities to ease off and recover, and Lord help you if you get dropped. In practice it’s important to just get your head down and focus on the small victories, and actually pretty straightforward if you play the game right. As we came onto the home straight each lap I clocked someone out of the corner of my eye and made it my goal to avoid falling behind them at all costs. I kept myself near to the front of the pack but not on the inside because it’s really helpful to have room to hop onto people’s wheels when I fancied a breather. As I crossed the line for the penultimate time, it was only then I realised how far into the race we were and screamed to Hayley and Yewande “holy tits we are the final three!” But unfortunately for me they had their racing hats on and continued fighting to place in the final lap while I lost a lot of ground celebrating prematurely. It took me almost the whole lap to catch back up with them and secure second place but to be honest the best part for me was Velociposse totally dominating the race and being the top 4 riders.
(Photo: Mario Ghantous)
Points Race – Yewande Adesida
As nice as the weather was at Thundertrack, it wasn’t particularly ideal for a 20 lap points race. So when we were asked if wanted to cut it down to 15 laps with points available every 3, there was a resounding yes from the Women’s B Cat. On a scoring lap in a points race, the first four riders to cross the line will get some points – 5, 3, 2 and 1 to be exact. We pulled off from the rail, and were told to roll around the track for a lap before the gun was fired. A yelp from Rosi and we were underway.
Two laps later and it was time for the first points lap. I had learned my lesson from the scratch race earlier and decided not to sprint a whole lap. In fact, I wasn’t sure whether to go for the sprint at all when I thought, ‘What have I got to lose?’ Unfortunately I wasn’t the only one and Rosi and I went head to head again in a sprint for the line (the first time being at Assos League where Rosi pulled off the win). More noise was emitted as we crossed the line, each of us thinking that the other had got the maximum points, and to this day we still don’t know who emerged victorious.
We both rejoined the bunch and soon enough the second points lap came. After racing in three events I had finally found my legs and won the sprint. Then I lost them. The thing with points every three laps is that you’re sprinting more often than if they were every five (like was originally planned). By the time the third sprint came around I didn’t even think about going for it, instead just trying to hang onto the bunch. The break did me good, I was raring to go for the fourth sprint and received maximum points and then it was about hanging on until the end.
Points were tallied – I’d come out with the overall win! Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay to stand on top of a podium for the first time but heard there were some great prizes.
Thanks to NLTCBMBC for putting on a great event, the sponsors for donating prizes, and to my teammates who provided some wonderful entertainment and awesome racing.
All in all, a great day out for Velociposse, and some of us will be back tonight at the last round of the ASSOS Women’s League so watch this space!