I wasn't sure how this race would go. I was coming off of a hard week of riding and my legs were still feeling pretty tired, but it was Tuesday and time to race. I warmed up around the track and infield for a little over an hour and my legs still felt tight, but not terribly bad.
The race conditions were not the greatest. It was pretty windy with a headwind/crosswind down the back straight and the temps were in the low 80's...so water was a definite need for the night. Coming around the corner after the straight speeds would drop about 7-10 mph due to the wind.
The race started with a group going off the front almost immediately...it was only 3-4 racers, which is normal, as the rest of the pack ramps up the pace getting the blood flowing before turning up the heat. However, this time about a half lap into the race about 10-15 more racers joined them and they had the makings of a break away that could stay away.
Nobody in the main pack seemed like they wanted to chase for a while...until the break away had about a .25+ lead on the rest of the group. It was at this time people started to chase, but we didn't make much of a dent for a while. We had a small group of riders up front that were doing a lot of work chasing down the break. For a while we just could make up much ground, but after about 8 laps we finally started gaining on them. As we got closer a second group formed and jumped off the front...so we had two break away groups.
At this time those of us left at the back started chasing really hard and as we got close to the second group I put in a 34 mph effort down the main stretch to latch onto the back of the 2nd group dragging the rest of the remaining group with me. Once caught we worked together to catch the main pack, which we finally did with about 8 laps to go.
Once they were caught it was attack after attack with riders going off the front then being reeled back in. The race started to feel like a crit with all the accelerations. This was the first PIR race that I've been in where we lapped the CAT 3/4 field twice in one night...we have come close several times, but on this night we came around them a second time with 6 or so laps to go...which just showed how hard we were working on the night.
Going into the final lap things really heated up....as usual. There was the normal fighting for position but since we were going counter clockwise we had the long finishing stretch. I tried to get myself in position by moving up and made a good dent in getting toward the front but found myself about 20 riders back going through the corner...about 10 farther back than I wanted.
Once we came around the corner the pace really picked up and the sprint was on. A group separated to the left and I followed them but made a tactical error in doing so. As they pulled off they were accelerating so I jumped hard to latch on. As I came up to them they started to slow, playing positioning games. At this time I slowed and looked for a wheel to jump on for the last 300 meters or so...when I should have jumped out of the saddle and went blowing by them. In the end I think this cost me a good 5-6 positions in the final standings on the night.
Overall in the end though I was able to cross the line 9th or 10th in the final sprint and finished with 2 points on the night which put me in 12th for the night when the hot spot points were added. Not a bad night considering my legs didn't feel very good going into the race and the efforts put in during the race to catch the break away groups.
On a side note...with the tail wind I was able to hold 38.5 mph for 30 seconds during the final sprint with a top end of 39.5 mph. If I would have jumped like I should have, I would have easily broke 40 mph in the final sprint...and yes, I'm kicking myself for not jumping when I should have....Oh well...live and learn, race and learn, get better and don't make the same mistake twice :D