TORQ Track Team rider Jan Birkmyre races in the Women’s Omnium at Halesowen and has the honour of being the first winner on the newly refurbished Halesowen Track…
Each Season, The Dudley Grand Prix is the closest meeting to home, so I can look forward to a bit of a lie in, eating breakfast at home (rather than in the car) and if there are no rain delays, we get home at a reasonable time too. Over the years however, this meeting has had more than its fair share of rain. Historically Halesowen’s precipitation has seen one cancellation due to flooding, one abandonment after sign on (but before racing started) and another year where racing was called off after we had raced just the first event of the five that make up an omnium. So surely in 2015 we would have a fair run at it, wouldn’t we?
The BBC weather forecast was not particularly encouraging, but it improved dramatically as the day approached and I felt optimistic about our chances of racing. However, on the morning of the event, there was steady rain with a few sunny intervals that just teased us before rain started again.
The pre-entered field for the Women’s Omnium was small anyway and clearly several of those had chosen to stay at home, rather than risk a long journey and no racing. Incredibly, two ladies who had both made long journeys, arrived, signed on and then gave up and went home just 30 minutes before the sun came out and, in a frenzy of activity, we all got ready to start racing. The track was then drenched in unbroken sunshine for the rest of the afternoon and it was difficult to remember that we had been sitting in our cars staring at the rain a few hours earlier.
The women got the day’s racing underway with the pursuit and because numbers were allocated in alphabetical order, I was in the first heat (as an aside, avoiding being in the first heat is currently the best reason I have for taking my husband’s surname – I would then be Janet Jack instead of Janet Birkmyre – but so far that has not proved sufficient incentive for me to actually change it)! I won the two up heat and as I was cooling down, I was aware that my father (and trainee pit crew for the day, as David was playing golf), was answering lots of questions. Apparently in winning my heat, I was the first winner on the newly re-opened track and the local press needed to know who I was. I sincerely hoped that that was not going to be the biggest “win” of the day for me!
As it turned out, from a very small field, I found myself riding head to head with Sophie Black in every race. The 19 year old from the Isle of Man, who rides for Elitevelo Kalas Sportswear CRT, has committed to riding this Series for a number of years now. Interestingly, she started racing at the age of five, which means that although she is less than half my age, she has been racing for as many years as I have.
Having raced with Sophie over a number of years, I have a healthy respect for her ability and I needed to keep my guard up to beat her, but beat her I did. To her credit, she was a worthy opponent and what might have been a washout, turned into a great day with some close racing.
Round 4 of the Series takes us to Reading on the 15th of August, but before that, there is the small matter of the National Derny Champs, which will take place at Herne Hill on the 26th of July.
Thank you as always to those that help me do what I do. This time the list includes my Mum and Dad for their support and for looking after me while David (who, to be fair had set up my bikes so perfectly in advance, that very little actually needed to be done) played in his Club Championships, and then turned up later to tidy everything up.