I had the chance to represent VeloFemme-Litzler at the Ontario Cup series in the brand new Mattamy Velodrome in Milton, Canada. The velodrome, built ahead of this year’s Pan-Am games, is a really nice and smooth 250m wooden track. The events were well organized, all the racers were very competitive and it was a great experience.
The first in the O-Cup series was February 13 and 14 and honestly, what is a better way to spend your valentine’s day?! There were a total of 22 girls signed up in the junior, elite and masters fields combined and I was really excited to be able to have such a big women’s field to race in!
On Friday we started with flying 200m qualifiers for the sprint tournament. The Cleveland Velodrome is 166m so a 200m sprint is about 1.2 laps, this velodrome on the other hand, is 250m which means that the 200m is only 4/5 laps. That means that the way you use the banking of the track is completely different and let’s just say my qualifier was not my fastest 200m sprint ever…
Second up was the points race. In this 60 lap race, points can be scored every 10 laps, for the first 4 riders crossing the line. It is all about racing smart, in the end it is not whoever finishes first but the one with the most point who wins the race. Since I didn’t know anybody I started at the back to get a feeling of how the girls race in Canada. I noticed immediately that the pace is kept high and that everybody is very competitive. Cool!! I am especially impressed with how strong the junior riders are. I stayed in the back till there were 2 sprints left and managed to get points for both sprints to finish 4rd in the elite women’s field.
On Saturday the day started with the sprint tournament. I had never done a match sprint but it is really fun! It is like a cat and mouse game around the track. You start next to each other and have 3 laps to win the race. You have to watch your opponent very carefully and have to decide when to jump to the sprint. I didn’t quite have the right gearing but it was a great experience!
Lastly I did the scratch race. This race was 30 laps and in this race the person who crosses the line first wins the race. I started out in the back again. But after the points race, I felt more confident racing and worked myself to the front. There were a couple of break aways and 2 girls managed to stay off the front. With less than 2 laps to go I decided to attack and sprinted around the pack and off the front. I went as fast as I could and realized that the laps in this velodrome are really long compared to Cleveland! I was able to stay away from the pack and got the last spot on the podium! whoohooo 🙂
The second O-Cup was March 27 and 28 and again a big women’s field.
On Friday the races started with qualifying 200m sprints. This time I had a little better idea of how to ride it and it payed off cause I raced my fastest 200m ever!
Next up was the points race. Since now I had raced with these girls a little more I was more confident being in front of the pack. There were many attacks and the race was super exciting all round. Everybody is so fast and I hadn’t managed to score any points yet so between the 4th and 5th sprint, I attacked. I stayed away for about 5 laps but was caught right at the line, scoring a couple of points but not the ones I was hoping for. Ah well, you try something, you fail sometimes. I still picked up enough points for a podium finish so all the hard work was good for something.
On Saturday we did the sprint tournament, the elimination race and the scratch race. For the the semi finals of the sprint tournament, I was up against a girl who was about as fast as me which made for really exciting races. For the first race I started on the inside and was able to keep her behind me. The second race I started on the outside and my opponent decided to keep the pace high from the whistle. I tried to go around her but was not able to which meant we had to do a 3rd race. Luckily I started on the inside again and although the pace of the race was high I was able to finish first. The finals were tough since I was up against a very experienced and fast Sara Mason. I was announced as being from “The Netherlands, that crazy cycling country” which made us laugh during the race 🙂
It was two great weekends of racing. So much fun, so many super nice people and super competitive racing. I am fascinated with the great numbers of women that are racing and with the juniors program from the Forest City Velodrome. It is great to see so many juniors race so passionately. The Mattamy National Cycling Center is an awesome facility and I would encourage everyone to go and try it.