On Monday 3rd of March we began our week-long trip down to Invercargill for the 2014 Age Group and Omnium Track Nationals. After a rather bumpy flight down, we soon made our way to the Birchwood Manor Motel where we would be spending the next 7 days in a great team environment. After quickly unloading some gear into our rooms we made our way down to the velodrome for the first of our training sessions. It’s always a great feeling getting back on the boards and it didn’t take long to settle into the rhythm and get some decent track time.
Tuesday was fairly quiet with a morning spin on the erg down at the track before returning later in the day for another track session focusing on our gate starts and flying laps. The rest of the day was spent keeping the legs off the ground and preparing all the gear for the start of racing the next afternoon.
Wednesday morning saw a few riders hit the track early in the morning for some last minute preparation and gave the U19 riders a chance to sort out gearing on a less congested track for the Omnium which would be run over the Thursday and Friday sessions. Racing kicked off at 6.30 that afternoon and consisted of the U15, U17 and masters 500m TT’s. WCNI had a pretty good medal haul from this afternoon and ended with a total of 3 gold’s and 2 bronzes.
Thursday saw the beginning of the U19 Omnium in which myself, Josh Kendall and Renee George were the WCNI riders competing. The Omnium is a 6 race event consisting of a Flying lap(250m), Points race, Elimination race, Pursuit, Scratch race and Time trial, all taking place over two days. First up for me was the Flying lap, this wasn’t my best event but I gave it my best shot. Unfortunately I slightly over-geared and struggled to get on top of the gear by the start of my lap and when I sat down it felt like I was riding through mud. It wasn’t my best time but it was definitely a learning curve. Next up was the Points race. This was a 20km race with Points allocated to the first 4 riders at every sprint. There were sprints after every 10 laps of the 80 lap race. I narrowly missed out on the points in the first two sprints and continued to just miss out on points in the majority of the other sprints but I was still relatively pleased with me efforts in a super-fast race. The final Omnium event for the day was the elimination race. In this race the last rider over the line on every second lap is eliminated. I had to start from the back and my aim was to get to the front as fast as possible, unfortunately everyone else had the exact same idea and in order to get to the front I had to go around the whole field which started at a blistering pace, this made my task difficult as I was riding a much larger distance than many of the others by riding extremely high around the banking in order to try and pass. This didn’t work out well and unfortunately I was the first eliminated once again providing a massive learning curve for the future.
After some hot-colds on Thursday night (which saw a group of kids running between two motel room baths), it was time to hit the track again for another day of fierce racing. First up for Omnium we had our Individual Pursuit which was 3km. This wasn’t my strongest event but I gave it everything I had in the tank and managed to get a PB although it was still a couple of seconds off the time I had set myself but I was pretty happy with my efforts. Next up was the Scratch race which was at the beginning of the afternoon session. This was yet another super-fast race with the pace on for nearly the whole 10km. I was looking forward to this race and gave it a good go. I managed to finish 20m or so off the back of the front bunch after the race splintered in the last 4 laps as everyone was going full gas, so I was reasonably happy with the outcome of this race despite a few close calls and near crashes which seems to be the norm in these high speed track races. Finally to finish up, the sixth event of the Omnium was the Kilometre Time trial. This consisted of basically emptying the tank and giving every last bit of energy over four laps. Yet again I posted another personal best but was 2 seconds off my goal time. I was still relatively pleased with the ride although I think I could’ve geared up slightly more to a little bit harder gear.
Overall, it was a great experience competing in the 2014 NZ Omnium Nationals and was a huge learning curve. I’ve come out of the event with a greater knowledge of how to ride the track, the gearing, tactics and preparation for races along with gaining confidence in riding in a bunch of people in some cases twice the size of me. The West Coast North Island team atmosphere was amazing and a huge thanks must go to all the parents, supporters, drivers, handlers and coaches for making the 2014 Age Group and Omnium Track Nationals such a successful week! Another huge thank you has to be made to John Arbuckle and Lisa Horn who managed the WCNI team and did a fantastic job at that! Hopefully they’ll stick around for a while yet! Thanks must also go too Adam Curry and Central Bicycle Studio for the WCNI team shirts which made our supporters look pretty classy, along with fresh drink bottles and some R-Line. My personal thanks go to the Groube’s for some amazing meals along with transport and much more, Bike Manawatu for their support and last but not least my parents for getting me down there for an unforgettable experience! Bring on Elites!