As well as the National Road Race Championships in Lincolnshire, the weekend of the 27th-28th June saw the Master’s National Track Championships at Newport Velodrome.
By the second day of racing, the sprints and scratch races were finished, leaving the individual pursuit and points race to finish. Both riders and helpers were tense as they waited for seeding to be decided and their start times to appear. Each new batch of start lists was met with a flurry of activity on the infield, followed by smiles and relief as age categories finished their effort.
Riders broke for lunch while others prepared to be called for the start. The intensity of preparation gave way to smiles as splits were compared and stories traded, as the session wound down and jerseys and medals given to those who had triumphed.
Many of the morning’s pursuiters had entered the afternoon’s points race. A combination of the length of trip, a low combined entry fee and, of course, the thrill of bunch racing swelled the numbers, but the field was far better for the extra riders.
Before long, the velodrome was once again filled with activity. Those who were ready circled the infield, while others fettled bikes and began well-rehearsed warmup routines.
As is always the case, the amount of time before the race was to start seemed far shorter than in reality, and the call was put out for riders to attend the start.
Safety briefings issued, riders took to the boards. Different age categories raced together, with only one set of points on offer.
The length of the race was 96 laps, meaning a sprint after only 6 laps. This would have to wait, though. The tension and excitement in the bunch was unfortunately demonstrated with a crash on the third lap. Prides and moods were dented, but fortunately nothing was broken, and the race was re-started after repairs to the track surface.
With debris cleared, the remainder of the field continued the race. While Master’s racing has a reputation as some of the most competitive and gladiatorial, the riders themselves are equally strong in their cameraderie once the racing is done.