Around this time last year my friend McNabb started going down to DISC on Sunday mornings. There was a skills session there, she said, where you get to ride on the Velodrome. I was kinda interested, but was more interested in racing road, so wasn't in much of a hurry to head down there.
Eventually, though, I set my alarm and wandered down. Nath was there, and we had a bit of a chat. Somehow he convinced me to give it a go. I borrowed one of the club bikes and followed him around for the next fifteen minutes, rolling first on to the straights, then all the way up the banks, until we were doing entire laps along the fence. By the time we rolled off I was hooked.
I started racing in September. Before then the only competitive cycling I'd done was in alleycats. It was only E grade, but I remember being pretty nervous. I figured sitting in the bunch would do me just fine in the first race, but by the time the bell rang the red mist had settled in and I sprinted away.
When the weather turned warm I started training with Brunswick Cycling Club legend Alf Walker on Monday nights. We trained at the Harrison Street Velodrome, where the cracks are significant and the graffiti fresh. I'd stick around for Madison training immediately afterwards, slinging and being slung around the oddly shaped track as the sun came down.
After a couple of months of needling on my part Nath eventually outlined a training program for me, consisting of two months of base training, then blocks of endurance, strength and speed. By the time the last block came around I'd made my way into A grade, bought a fancy carbon track bike and was riding for The Fitzroy Revolution. I'd also ridden quite a few road races, and while I'd done ok, they didn't have the buzz, the frantic ADHD fun of the track. So I let the dreams of a year ago and started looking for a track coach, eventually settling on Rick Leonard.
I started training with Rick about a week into the Brunswick Track Omnium. I'd come second in the flying 200, and was pretty confident that I could land on the podium in enough of the coming events to win. Which is pretty much how it panned out - a win in the scratch, second in the points, third in the motorpace and a fifth in the three lap time trial. It wasn't a huge, important event or anything - we certainly weren't racing for sheep stations - but for a kid who was in E grade less than a year ago it felt like a pretty big deal.
I don't really know where I go from here. There are Opens on the horizon, Christmas track carnivals in both Victoria and Tasmania, crazy track racing circuses at Hisense Arena. It's a world that's opening out in front of me right now. Stay tuned, I guess.