Last week the long anticipated announcement of RAW track 2016 was reviled. Although stingy on details the first night has been announced for June 17th and we can fill in the blanks for the location being Dunc Gray velodrome, the usual format of warm up scratch, special wheel race, sprint race, enduro race, and combined grades/time blaster and best of all banter and good ol’ fashioned track antics.
It will also be cold, so fricken cold! all the time and the infield of Dunc is like a sink hole for all the cold in Sydney. Over the years i have realized flannel pants, jumpers, and a blankie to stay warm between races. Then thermals, arm warmers, gloves and toe covers for during the races. There is no such thing as too much at RAW.
RAW track was my first exposure to track racing. And Crafty (Paul Craft) does great things for track cycling (and cycling in general) in Sydney. In 2011 I made my debut in novice grade. In 2015 4 years later I was mixing it with the div 1 sprinters and won a Canadian championship. Without RAW, I believe none of this would have happened. So a huge thank-you to Crafty and Cycling NSW for making this resource available.
With 4 weeks till night 1 here are some tips to get involved.
Try the track before you get to Dunc- I highly recommend you get out to a banked track. Tempe, Bowral, Unanderra, or The Bundahdome. Or if you can’t get to those, Hurstville, Lidcombe, Gosford, and at the very minimum, ride a fixie. Track bikes are different and you need to be able to keep peddling, keep peddling, keep peddling. Because the last thing you want to do is go to coast mid track.
Talk to your club. There are a few ‘track’ clubs around Sydney (St George, DHBC, Lidcombe, and Bankstown). These clubs have home tracks, and club bikes. Outside of Sydney, Central Coast, Illawara CC and Vikings in Canberra also have a Big track Culture. If you are in one of these clubs, you got it easy. Send them an e-mail and they will be able to set you up and get you started.
Other clubs may have really active track riders, SUVelo, Randwick Botany, Bici Sport come to mind, see if you can get a hold of those riders(stalk the start lists from previous years RAWs and see who you know/have on Facebook) and use them as a buddy to show you around.
If you have a track bike (or access to a track bike) Tempe has track training run by DHBC Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30 and it is beginner friendly. The training format is warm up pace line, enduro ‘races’ , sprint ‘races’ then skills. It’s a great way to get used to the banking and riding in a bunch before getting up on the boards.
St George also have the 100 lapper every Thursday at Hurstville
Cancel your Friday plans and mark your calendar- RAW is more training than racing. And like all training you get more out of it if you do it regularly. If you are new to track or don’t get to race track regularly, commit to a season of RAW. Aim for at least 80% attendance and you will be amazed at how much you improve during the season. Who knows, maybe with the new confidence and skills, you will be tempted/inspired to ride the track opens and possibly even give the state champs a go.
Have fun challenge yourself- My first few years I was all about winning (who doesn’t like winning). But after a few talks at the pub after racing, I was encouraged to go up grades, and get my ass whooped. You don’t learn when you’re winning by a lot. All you learn is wait and ride around everyone. That skill is no use once you move up or start doing opens. Being in a bunch where you are not the best rider makes you a smarter rider. The only time you should not worry about riding around the bunch is if you can do that in div 1. If you can ride around the bunch in div 1 you are my hero, can I buy you a beer/coke/ice-cream!
Listen- to Crafty, to Browne, to anyone who is willing to give you a tip. RAW is about learning. It makes you a better rider.
RAW Track is only a few weeks away, but there is plenty of time to get set up and all prepared.