Like everybody's memory, mine sometimes is unreliable. I can't help but wonder, therefore, if some of my totally rad memories haven't been blown out of proportion, if they become more and more awesome as the days go by. Was that Nine Inch Nails show in 1996 really as mind-blowing as I remember? Were Milko bars really that delicious? Was that Alison girl I made out with in year 8 really such an amazing kisser, or am I just saying that to excuse the fact that I was making out with someone who looked a bit like my friend Evan?
When I haven't raced up in Bendigo for a while the same doubt appears. I always remember the speed, the big wide track, the space and the aggression. But after a few months of just racing at DISC, with the roll-around-and-sprint, bring-back-the-break-immediately mentality that seems to be its defining characteristic, I start to forget that track racing can be any other way.
But it can, and it is. For once my memory was perfect, if not a little understated. Nath and I drove up there on Thursday. They were doing a club Madison and I wanted in. It's a long drive - even longer on the way home - and I gotta say, I was pretty wrecked on Friday. But the racing is hard, damn hard, and those country boys know how to ride their bikes. I reckon I was the biggest muppet in the lineup - certainly the accidental hook I threw at Sean Finning in the scratch race did nothing to dispel this notion. In the Madison I got lumped with some young kid I didn't know. After talking to him before the race I casually mentioned to my brother that we were fucked. I was totally, totally wrong. The kid was a gun. I only contested two sprints (of seven, I think), and he took points in each of the others. Sure, I chased down attacks, stopped gaps from opening up, and did my bit, but he was the one who eventually won the bike race for us.
But it wasn't just that we were winning that made the racing so rad. On that big open track you can really play hard, especially when the wind is up, and you know that your hard work is going to be rewarded. There's the typical Madison mess, with riders everywhere, but the track is wide and flat enough for it never to feel unsafe. I've said it once, and I'll say it again: it just feels fast.
Plus, afterwards, if you've won something, they have presentations, and you get to make a speech. I like making speeches.