The National Track Championships – Ben Abels
What an honour to be selected as part of the Victorian team for the National Track Championships. We flew out of Melbourne bound for Adelaide on January 24. We had two days of training and two days to get used to the heat. The racing started on Australia Day. Thank goodness for the ice baths and the ice vests! Our accommodation was luxurious and the venue was only a 20 minute ride away; although we were driven most of the time as it really was too hot – 35⁰.
My first race was the kilo and there I was sitting in the pitts, not far from Shane Perkins and Jason Niblet. There I was ready to ride against some of the best men in the world: the new kid on the block and the youngest. I wasn’t going to be intimidated! It was my turn to ride the kilo. I had to stay calm. Out I went and my time: 1:05.400. Not bad considering it wasn’t my favourite event. I came in 6th overall. I could do this.
The next day was the Flying 200. Here I had to race against Perko, Nibo and The Bird Man (Alex Bird), amongst others. Nervous – I think so! But I had Carl there talking through the race plan. I made the cut off and was into the elimination sprint. My rival thought he could intimidate me, but I managed to get into the Quarter Finals. Wow – I had made the Quarter Finals. But I wasn’t allowed to get too far ahead of myself. However, I had already achieved more than I thought I could possibly do. Unfortunately I have to report that experience won over youth and exuberance. I lost in the quartes to the eventual Australian Champion – Alex Bird. Hey, but so did Perko!
What an experience.