My heart still hurts from last night. Tonight looks like more of the same.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a little emotional today. It’s coming to an end, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. It’s been as fun as all hell, sure, but it’s also been tiring. Most of the officials, the volunteers, the riders and coaches all look a little shattered. But tonight is the night I’ve picked as the best night of the meet. There’s men’s keirins, women’s pursuits, women’s TTs, then a madison to cap it all off. That covers pretty much everyone, sprinters and enduros of both genders.
Leanne Cole drops some more photos from last night on me, which means that I don’t have to take any sneaky smartphone photos myself. That’s a bit of a relief – for the past few days I’ve had the sneaking suspicion that if I get busted doing so I’m going to have my media pass ripped off my neck.
The riders are milling around, looking pretty relaxed. On twitter the banter has a lighter tone than in days past – Geraint Thomas tells the world that he’s riding a madison for the first time in four years, and as such will be getting his partner, Ben Swift, to do all the work. Anna Meares is, surprisingly, going to ride her pet event, the 500m Time Trial, despite it no longer being an Olympic event. Riders not involved tonight are milling around in jeans, sipping from cans of coke and recovering from what seems to have been a big night before. They support their teammates, yell out, fetch them drinks.
I’m pretty excited about tonight though. As well as the racing Royal Headache are playing with Straightjacket Nation for free at the Gasometer, and I get the impression that the racing will be done and the story filed well before they go on. And then there’s Andy’s Roubaix partying, which I’ve been telling riders and officials about all week. I’m starting to feel like I’m not going to be home until dawn. That makes me nervous. It’s been some time.
I settle in and watch one of the German men trying to get into his skinsuit. The whole ‘marginal gains’ thing has really taken off, and skinsuits are now very serious business. I don’t have the language to ask them about the tech, but even I can see it’s tight – it takes three people, the rider included, to get it on.
Hurley has asked me to see if the British team are selling any of their stuff, but I figure they’re probably jack of me after the whole “what gear is Victoria running?” debacle, so I handball it to Paulie. He doesn’t say he’ll do it, but mentions that another friend of his is selling a bunch of gear. It turns out the friend is a bloke called Max, who I also used to train with. “He was a cop, right?” I ask Paul. “More than that!” Paul answers, his emphasis indicating respect. “He was in the bomb disposal squad! He used to dismantle bombs all over the world. He’d always say, if in doubt, cut the red wire.” It’s good advice, both for bombs and for life.
There’s probably a fair bit of cutting the red wire in the keirins, which are up next. The first heat involves Perkins and ‘local’ boy Josiah Ng. Josiah has been speaking at length in the media about how important this race is for him, and I can’t help but really, really want him to do well. He gets second and goes straight through, but Perko can only muster a fourth, and will have to go through the repechage. Sir Chris is in the next one, does it easy, and I consider putting some money on him. Dave Hogan mentioned there was a tote for the sprinters, but I haven’t checked the odds or anything. In the next heat Germany’s Max Levy gets boxed and the humungous New Zealander Simon Van Velthooven goes through, each slam of the pedals rocking the bike back and forth. In the next the Christian Glaetzer hits the deck courtesy of a fair bump from GB’s Matt Crampton and Azi Awang monos over the line for the win. It’s great to see Awang back after the splinter incident – despite not being a big guy, he’s a classic keirin rider, always pushing the rules and splitting the tiniest of gaps. Blakey highlights the irony of a serious Christian hitting the deck on a day when their main man rose again. The Japanese Watanabe rolls Jason Kenny on the line. The last heat of the day is an old fashioned argy-bargy affair. Australia’s Sunderland gives France’s Pervis a huge bump, but it sends him up the track, from where he’s able to gain a huge roll off the banks. He comes back at Sunderland and they cross the line leaning on each other. Pervis throws a headbutt after the line and Sunderland finally lets him go. It’s all good though, and they shake hands on the cooldown lap.
After the keirin is finished, everyone watches it on the inhouse video.
There’s a pause before the Women’s pursuit qualifying. Folks from the keirins are huddled in their respective pit areas, crowded around computers, watching the replays. They miss Australia’s Ashlee Ankudinoff set a new all-comers record for the fastest time on Australian soil. I nearly do too – Gene is telling me the gossip from last night’s ACMC parties, and I’m distracted by the stories. But next to us her coaches are yelling, and their voices grow more and more insistent until finally I’m watching Ankudinoff set the new hot time.
Yellin in my ear!
Not heaps excited by the Pursuits, I go talk to Munners for a bit. He tells me all about the Pascoe Vale Cycling Club, which apparently has six members, all of whom were forced to undergo an individual initiation. Some of them were allowed in by virtue of failing to finish an important stage race in France. Some of them he won’t tell me about. He tells me to google it, and I do, but it doesn’t help.
The bike in front of where we are sitting is kind of odd, so I ask him about it. It has forward facing front drop outs, which I’m told is for changing the handling of the bike. Apparently the Koga TT bikes are road time trial bikes with the rear drops swapped out, so they still have a bunch of features usually reserved for the road. They’re also running Dugast tyres that are stamped as Vredesteins, but I don’t ask him about that. I’ve already offended enough mechanics this weekend.
The weird Koga
In the meantime, Amy Cure sets a new fastest time in the Pursuit. I don’t want to speak to soon, especially when Sarah Hammer - who is so tough that people are always asking her not to hurt them -is still to come, but there’s a pretty strong chance that there will be another all-Australian final again tonight.
I mention this on twitter, and am disappointed to be informed that not only is Hammer not riding – which means that all of my MC Hammer jokes will go unreleased - but that Wendy Houvenagel and New Zealand’s Alison Shanks have proven me wrong. The Australians will be riding off for third.
Wandering around as the keirin repechage rounds take place, I have another chat to the US mechanic. As I’ve said earlier, he seems like a kindred spirit, and is the only other bloke around here with really obvious tattoos. I ask him about bikes for the Madison. He tells me that some teams run different bikes (I’ve already noted the British Team’s Pinarellos), but generally they just put different bars and a higher stem on, to help with the handling, then wrap the bars all the way to the top. They’re packing up – Team USA has no one in contention tonight – and he’s looking forward to sitting in the stands this evening and getting drunk. Like I said before, exactly the same as every other bike mechanic I’ve ever met. I hand him a flyer to the Fyxo party and he seems keen.
Turning my attention back to the Keirin repechage rounds, I’m saddened to see Josiah not make it through. I’ve just spent a couple of minutes talking about how rad he is, and even showed one of my peers in the media centre the YouTube vid of him racing Emily Hughes on the rollers. He was in contention, but was outgunned in the final straight. He’s a pretty upbeat guy in general, but I figure I’ll give him a little time today before going over for a chat.
There’s a few more rounds to go. It’s interesting to hear the British coaches yell not, “Go!” or “Up!”, but rather, “Pull!”. And they yell so damn loud you can hear them throughout the arena. It seems to work – their man Matt Crampton goes through. In the next heat Glaetzer and Perkins are there, Glaetzer seeming to have been resurrected after his fall. Jason Kenny is also there – this is the toughest repechage round by far. Perko goes early, Glaetzer chases him, but eventually Jason Kenny takes the high line on the track and dispatches both of them, chopping Perko on the line for good measure. Then Max Levy leads from the front and no one is able to come around him, despite Eddie Dawkin’s best efforts. And that’s it for the afternoon session. It’s finishing pretty early – we have nearly two and a half hours for dinner. I wonder what Gene wants to do.
Anna Meares climbing into the stands after winning the Keirin last night. Pic C/o Leanne Cole.
You try this in cleats. Apparently that's her husband giving her a hand. Rumour has it he has been racing Cyclocross in Adelaide - can anyone confirm? C/o Leanne again
You never close your eyes, any more, when I kiss your lips... C/o Leanne
Apparently these two are roommates, both here and in Europe when they're both riding for GreenEdge. It's nice of them to share. I bet they also have a roster saying whose turn it is to do the dishes. C/o Leanne Cole.
A good shot of the weird helmet Cam Meyer rode to victory in the points race last night. It looked like he'd stolen it off some little kid. Apparently Meyer was also fined for the rainbow stickers on his bike. C/o Leanne Cole.
Baby face, you've got the cutest little baby face. C/o Leanne Cole.
Where the New Zealanders warm up.
This Ukrainian rider agreed that his Kalavinka was wicked hot.
But had no idea what the words on the top tube meant. Or didn't want to tell me.