With it being quicker and easier to go to the track at Ghent in Belgium than it is to get to Manchester, you wonder whether it’s really worth the aggravation of the drive there and back. But once the hammer goes down from the likes of Brad Wiggins you know that it was definitely worth the trip.
The field for Revolution6 was even better than Revolution5, so I expected top be out pretty early in the devil\scratch event. This starts with the devil where the last rider across the line each lap is pulled out until 12 are left, at which point it turns into a 10 lap scratch race (simple huh?!). Somehow I managed to get myself in the right position to avoid the devil’s clutches, and every time I heard the name of one of the big stars being called out I tried that little bit harder to stay near the front and hey presto, I saw the lap board come up with 10 to go, meaning I’d survived the devil’s cull. At this point my legs wanted to call it a day, but when you’ve done the hard part you may as well see the job through and try and hang on a bit longer.
When you’ve the likes of Brad Wiggins and Magnus Backstead on the front, you’re not racing, you’re surviving, but again as the laps came down I still found myself in a good position and gave it everything in the last lap to cross the line in 4th place, well behind the first three riders, but still beating some top rider. The downside was when I looked at the results and didnt appear anywhere – I’m convinced it was the roadcyclinguk [ahem – Ed] jersey that was the cause of this! – the design of it matched the track (wood colour with a blue and red stripe), so I reckon the judges didn’t even see me as I blended in too well on the track! Although disappointed to be missed off the result (was Eddie Wingrave in the judges stand?!), I hoped the stealth design of the jersey would help later on as no one would be able to see how badly we would be thrashed in the madison…
My warm up for the next event consisted of helping to patch up one of the girls I help, as she’d decided she needed a new skinsuit even though she’d only worn it once before. The Girl’s Future Stars event, seemed to be a real life game of ‘Last Man Standing’ (but this time, Last Girl Riding), which was entertaining for the crowd, great for the photographers, but terrifying for anyone like me who’d lent equipment to any of the riders. After the first demolition, Scrippo waved goodbye to his spare wheel, not expecting to see it in one piece again, as I put in Louise’s bike ready for the next round of the demolition derby.
The points race was over 40 laps, and I don’t remember anything about the first 39, other than it seemed to be a form of derny training, but with humans instead of dernys. The thing that I really hate about Brad Wiggins, is not that he’s so much faster than me, but he looks like he’s not trying when he goes on the attack, he just flicks a switch in his legs and they accelerate 5mph without him doing anything.
At least Nicole Cooke looks like she’s trying when she throws her head around Paula Radcliffe style, when she sprints away. It wasn’t that I didn’t try to score any points in the first 3 sprints, it was simply that I couldn’t go any quicker to move near the front to try. Somehow though on the last lap I managed to get near the front, came alongside a rider, went flat out and started to go past him just like I would at Herne Hill, but then unlike Herne Hill, he came past me again, and the realisation sunk in that I was taking on one half of the team who’d won the Ghent 6 the previous week, and not surprisingly I came off second best, but at least I managed to score a point for my troubles.
As the girls had decided not to do any stunts for the crowd in their remaining race, my warm up for the Madison was based around a number of trips to the toilet, as Scrippo and I contemplated how one mistake from us could single handledly destroy the World Class Performance Plan for the next Olympics. Additionally we were up against a number of foreign teams who’d I watched at the Ghent 6 the previous weekend.
I’ve raced somewhere between 100-150 madisons in the 18 years or so that I’ve been racing, but none like this. Normally if you make a small mistake changing, you just speed up slightly to get back in the string. But when the string is travelling along as fast as you can go anyway, a small mistake leaves you off the back of string and desperately hoping it’ll slow down so you can get back on. I’d told a slightly dubious Scrippo of our tactics beforehand, which were quite simply to attack from the gun, have a brief moment of fame leading the race for a few laps, try to get the first change in OK, and then to suffer like hell for the next 20km or so. And that was pretty much what happened…