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Kissena Twilight Series week #7

Kissena Velodrome, Queens, NY
Wednesday June 03, 2015
by: Dominic Stobart

The Twilight series is a weekly track omnium held at the Kissena Velodrome on Wednesday nights during the late spring and summer. Kissena is a 400m outdoor track in Queens NY. The banking is about 45 degrees and the surface is decidedly bumpy. Actually it's very bumpy but complaining about operational velodromes seems churlish in the extreme so let's leave it there. The program features a wide range of race formats for women, men, juniors and masters. The organization is tight, the atmosphere friendly and the racing competitive. I entered the Cat 5 field. The first race was a 'Chariot' heat. Five riders line up on the start/ finish line with pushers and on the whistle go hell for leather for one lap with the top three progressing to the final. A good standing start technique pays dividends as the race can be lost in he first ten meters. Mine is a bit ropey but I have a decent sprint and managed to pull it back and finish second and I booked my place in the final. The next race was a 5 lap 'Tempo'. Basically it's a kind of points race with the first two riders across the line scoring two and one points and on the final lap the top three scoring three, two and one points. I resisted the temptation to contest the first sprint but tucked into second place on the next lap. On lap three I made a big push and took the lions share before dropping back for lap four. On the final lap I pinched a solitary point and finished third overall. In the Chariot final I had another poor start and only managed to finish fourth. The last race of the night was a six lap scratch. For those that are unfamiliar with track terms - a scratch race simply means that the first rider over the line is the winner. As with many other forms of bike racing the basic strategy is to do as little work as possible or as Tim Krabbe puts it in "the Rider' - lick everyone else's plate before you start in your own. I picked out one of the stronger riders, sat on his wheel and watched the race unfold from the middle of the pack. At the gun one rider jumped and quickly took a 1/4 lap lead. Another rider took up the chase and the rest of us followed. With two laps to go the pack came back together and slowed up waiting for the next move. We rolled around like this for a lap. On the back straight with half a lap to go I seized my chance. I kicked hard and entered the sprinters lane ahead of the bunch. Then something completely unexpected happened. As I crossed the finish line the race commissar rang the bell. Somehow I had misread the lap board and had jumped a lap early. Ooops. There was only one thing to do - kick again. I gave it everything for a full lap. In my peripheral vision I saw a rider creeping up in me but I had just enough gas to claim the victory. Top spot in the scratch race gave me enough omnium points for third place on the night. Hopefully I'll be back for more before the summer is out. [photo credit: Kevin Yoo]