Special mention has to be made for Sarah, who without her help I would not have time between work and heading out to be ready to go.
When I signed in for the night it turned out that I was the current Master B series leader and entitled to wear the leaders jersey, now that was cool, however I could not wear it as I signed up for both races series and therefore had to forgo the pleasure of having a bulls eye on my back.
The other little nuance is that for Master B races there is no gear restriction but for Cat 4 gearing is restricted to 48 - 15. That presented me with the dilemma of either changing gearing between races or spinning out in the Master B's. Oh and the Cat 4 field was a complete unknown to me which is always interesting.
The first race of the evening was a Master B 10 lap snowball. for each lap the first person across the line gets points equal to the lap count. ie, lap 1= 1point all the way up to lap 10= 10 points. I had intended to sit in and try to grab some points but the race split apart and I was forced to go hunt points if I wanted them. I used a slowing of the field to launch an attack after the lone breakaway mid way through the race. I have to be honest, once committed my inner voice started screaming at me "what the hell are you doing? it is only the first race of the night Matthew, idiot". I ignored the stupid voice and managed to do enough to finish second overall.
With one race before my first Cat 4 race I rolled around the warm up circle, I breathed a sigh of relief when my gearing successfully rolled out and I lined up for an 8 lap snowball. The race did not start well with the official accusing me of racing in the wrong category prior (Master B) telling me I would be fined if it happened again. I was shocked and confused and it really did not help my focus. I put the incident to the back of my mind and rolled up.
Having burnt a bunch of matches in the first race I was looking to sit in and spin keeping in the main pack, but circumstances did not allow for that. The riders wheel I was on launched into the first point and I simply followed his wheel. It was like following a motor bike and I was very impressed with the speed. I honestly thought we had opened a sizable gap when he pulled up but I did not account for fresh legs. The group had reacted and what little flame I had from the final matches quickly went out. I slide back and came in 9th.
Next up was a Master B keirin which would be conducted over 2 heats and a final. The first 4 of each heat would go into the final. The Master A's were up first and I felt rushed to change my chain ring in time, a 48/15 with this group would not work. It turned out that I had 3 heats to change it in but got my timing all screwed up. At the drawing of straws I pulled No 1. which meant if no one took the motor bike I was obliged to do so. In the event I did not get a chance and I found myself around 6th or 7th wheel. As the pace increased the rider in front lost his wheel and the leaders were pulling away forcing me to bridge the gap. As I bridged, the rider behind me came up along side and both crowded and blocked me in, with a rub of shoulders. I was forced to move inside the rider in front to avoid a touch of wheels.
As we came into the final sprint the same guy was still blocking me in and as we approached the line the rider in front let up the pace knowing he was through, again with nowhere to go other than into a rider in front or to the side I was forced down the inside. I was not happy and had words with the rider, who espoused his experience and the fact he was holding his line. He had the cheek to say I looked nervous and I informed him, he made me nervous through his actions.
The result of my evasive riding caused me to be disqualified which whilst frustrating was a much better result than crashing.
The disqualification meant I had just enough time to change my gearing back for the Cat 4, 8 lap scratch race. I sat back in the field and was content to cross the line in 6th. I watched the Kirien final and then got ready for the Cat 4, 16 lap 4x4 points race. As we rolled out I was not getting a read on the riders and positioned myself on the wheel of the guy leading the series. I figured if he wanted to keep his leaders jersey he would have to perform. I contended the first two points coming in the top 4. Around lap 10 a rider was away and true to form the leaders jersey went after him to close the gap and I was right there with him. As he bridged, the rider behind and the one from the first race with a wicked turn of speed attacked. I was convinced my guy would go after him but to my surprise he didn't. We only had 4 laps to go and the attack was a great move. I went after him and was shocked to look back and see the gap we had opened. The next 3 laps were a pursuit as I slowly realed him in. It hurt and I had to chant in my head "Winners don't give up", the effort paid off as I hit the bell and was almost on him. I could see he had committed everything he had and I was closing. I caught him on the back straight and made my move for the line through turns 3 and 4 taking the race and gaining enough points to win the race overall. Ok I had a few more matches left.
The last race of the night was a Master B 16 lap 4x4 points race. After my effort in the previous race I was curious to see how I would perform. As the last race of the night I could afford to light any matches left so I rolled the dice and mixed it up with each points lap. I did enough to take 7th place overall and could not spin my legs fast enough in the last sprint lol.
All up I took 5th place for the Master B Omnium and 3rd place for the Cat 4 Omnium and whilst I was tired I was not recked which in my books was a win.
As always Sarah was there with water, food, warm clothing, encouragement and support. One rider in the warmup circle said 'wow you have water bottle suport", I could not help but smile and feel pride and a great deal of gratitude for my wonderful wife who gets more nervous than me before every race but is always there no matter what.
Cat 4 points race, making the catch, out of the last corner after a 3 lap pursuit.
Ride hard and fast, keep it Rubber Side Down and MaxLifeOut.