Sunday, January 19, 2014

TKO Pursuit

A bit of a catch up post from our first HKCA race just before Christmas at the new TKO velodrome- welcome the team pursuit and individual pursuit. Both four kilometre tests against the clock pushing the limits of speed, endurance and, in the case of the team pursuit an additional test of bike handling ability and team spirit.

Most people know the team pursuit from watching it on 'tut telly once every four years. And yes, it tends to look very fast and technically quite easy, but the reality if that not only are you in severe oxygen debt from the get go, you are pinning it through the bends on stupid handlebars, swinging up into a 41 degree banking at stupid speeds and somehow expected to slot back at the back of a very fast moving train without losing any speed or momentum. For a great insight on what it means to do this professionally, there's some awesome GoPro footage of the NZ team training here. Think of it as ballet on two wheels at 180bpm.

For the rest of us, we might strive to achieve something along the lines of what the pros put in at the Olympics, but without countless hours of practice and training we'll never get anywhere near the grace and glory of riding 60kph average for four minutes. But we can try our best and clock a reasonable time of 5:07 and still get that feeling of exhilaration as you pin it through the bends on your limit, then the satisfaction of getting the swing 'right' when you use the banking perfectly to slot back into the line at 50kph. As it happens, our 4 man team (Aron, James, Paulo and I) had never ridden as a 4 before, but we still qualified in 2nd place and reached the final against the very much more drilled X-Speed team. We weren't able to beat them, but we gave them a race and we all had fun finding our limits.

Come the individual test and it was time to enter the lactic zone one more time. The individual pursuit is much less demanding technically than the team, but without any 'rests' behind a team mate it becomes more about how well you can resist the temptation to go all in from the start and blow a gasket with 1-2km to go. Watching the qualifying it's amazing how many people see you start off looking good, then end up crawling around the last few laps hemorrhaging any time gains they'd gained over the first 2 kms struggling to turn over the too bigger gear they'd fitted thinking that they could push it. So, in qualifying it seems I managed to practice what I preach with a very consistent set of splits over 4kms, clocking 1:22s, 1:19s, 1:18s and 1:18s again over the last kilometre for a 5:17 finish. This gave me a solid 4th place qualifying time for the 3rd vs. 4th place finals. With three sets of pursuits in my legs my attempt to up the ante one last time failed as it all caught up with me in the last km, losing the slender lead I had over my 3rd place X-Speed competitor to lose by a couple of seconds in a slower time than my qualifying. He had basically done exactly what I wrote above...

Still a fun day out for team colossi- a 2nd place team result matched with 4th (Ed), 5th (Aron) and 6th (James) place results in the indvidual earning us lots of errrr vitamins and plastic gold discs. Ah, all good fun. Next time we will be super drilled on our TT bars and swooping back in at 60kph just like the pros...

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