With the National tandem sprint championships being the only domestic sprint race of the year for tandems, I was looking forward to competing with my stoker Neil Fachie, in what would be my debut competition as a Pilot.
Despite it now being the middle of May, the temperature struggled to get above 10 degrees and with a strong wind, it was freezing! 9 tandems signed on and after qualifying at 10am, we found ourselves in 2nd place, behind Paralympic Champion Craig Maclain and Matt Rotherham. We clocked a time of 10.84 on the red line and Craig and Matt rode 10.74 on the blue. It certainly made for some interesting racing as we came up against the experienced pair of Boyd and Heald in the semi finals.
I knew before hand that racing on a tandem would be different to solo. The way it rides during efforts is heavy and unresponsive, but fast when you get it rolling. Putting this in to practice tactically in a quick decision was tricky and I came away from each ride having learnt a lot. Observation is also different, with the Stoker blocking much of the view.
We were caught a little off guard in the first semi match but managed to come back round by the finish line. The second ride went more to plan, stalling a tandem from the front is very difficult as pace judgement is even more critical, with it taking so long to respond and recover from a mistake. We came from the back with half a lap to go, and so progressed to the final.
The first ride went to plan of sorts, we pushed on with a lap to go and created a large gap. We committed with 350m to go and were caught by half a wheel on the line. I think it was the right tactic as although we lost, we were up against a faster bike and it was very close on the line.
In the second ride we tried to pin Craig and Matt but I misjudged how much momentum they were building with the higher, wider line, and so they came over in the back straight to win comfortably.
It was disappointing to be beaten but I learnt a great deal in each race. I will be speaking to the coach to try and engineer some in house training races and practise the new skills that I need to develop on the tandem. All in all, a good day and plenty of positives to take forward to my next race, whenever that may be!