Sunday, February 12, 2006

So Close...yet, Oh So Far

It has been a week of extreme highs for me in Adelaide at the 2006 Australian National Track Championships. I have come away from my most sucessful ever meet with 4 medals from 5 events and some performances that i can honestly say, even defied my expectations.

It all started for me on Tuesday when i lined up in the individual pursuit. I was racing in the 2nd last heat, after winning the bronze last year, giving me a good look at the standard of riders and times being pumped out this year....and i have to was bloody high. Before i rode off the fastest qualifyer was close friend and team mate Michael Ford (a former junior World Pursuit Champion) who covered the distance in 4:29.7. For me to make the top 4 i had that to beat which for me to achieve would mean that i would be setting a 3.2second PB. Well not only did i go out there and beat it i shaved another 1.6 off it and in the end qualifyed 3rd with a 4.8 second PB (4:28.045, only 0.045 outside the qualifying time for the Commonwealth Games).

Me being pushed all the way to the finish, by coach Dave Sanders. It looks like i was hurting a little.....or a make the call.

I would later take out the bronze medal in my ride off with Michael Ford in a 4:30.6. Not a bad start to my National campaign, sucessful defence of my bronze medal from 2005.

Next i would front up in the Teams Pursuit 2 days later, where Victoria (my state team) would go in favourites after qualifying all 4 of our riders in the top 8 in the individual. We qualified fastest in the afternoon session in 4:13.2 and would have to ride off against Tasmania (the defending champions) in the final. Later that night we were out classed by the team comprising of 2 Commonwealth games representatives and would have to settle for 2nd despite pushing them to ride a new National Championship record and ourselves covering the 4km in a 4:10.1 (not bad i must say).

The 2 events i had remaining turned into 3 when Shane Kelly withdrew from the Team Sprint and i was called in as the new starter....not because im quick.....but because i was there. I started in a very ordinary fashion that even some of the slowest women sprinters would be embarassed by but fortunately i had 2 of the fastest guys in the country coming off my wheel and we managed to salvage a bronze medal. But the scratch which was much more up my alley followed shortly after where team mate Michael Ford took a lap with 2 other riders and after coming off a perfectly executed lead out by myself and Zac Dempster sprinted to 2nd place behind well known fast man Grant Irwin. Did i mention that once we started our lead out the field splintered and shattered with only 6 or so riders ending up finishing the race.....not bad again.

Sunday saw me begin the points title, with the intention of helping close friend and madison partner Sean Finning defend his title. As the race developed however i found myself to be in a winning position with 50 laps to go and the new team leader for the Victorian's. I was fighting it out for the win against Miles Olman (former junior World champion of this discipline) and after a hard and aggressive 40km he had the better of me and took the gold 6 points ahead of me in 2nd and then back to Sean in 3rd. It was by far one of the best races i have ever riden and, in my mind, confirmed me as probably the most consistant senior endurance rider of the meet.

This is me giving the bike some stick on my way to silver in the points race.

So after 5 races i had missed out on a national title leaving only this weekends Australian Madison Championship to top off a fantastic series for me. I will be riding with Sean Finning and we are both highly motivated for the event considering ourselves very good chances for the win.

Off the bike for anyone who is interested my life is finally gaining some sense of normality. I obviously still am dealing, in some way, with the break up of Amy and I but i am finally beginning to fill the hole that it has left in my life.

Currently i am organising with my team when i will be heading over to the US. It is a complicated process with trying to organise my team commitments with that of the National team and my track program. I am still very hopefull of qualifying for the world Championships in France and will be trying my best to work out if the 2 parts of my cycling career will be butting heads or if a i can find a solution which keep everyone happy, including me.

So for now i say good bye....and i will update you on my plans and the success of the upcoming madison, this coming Saturday.



Brent Bookwalter said...

Congrats! on the rockin rides Richie. Good luck next weekend!

BUD said...

nice riding man!! great results, way to stick it to 'em!

Breezer said...

Awesome Rides! You sure can fly around the track, and the road for that matter. I can't believe how fast those times are. Nice work and keep it up. See you soon.