Race Report from Vera Divenyi
US Masters Track Nationals
Masters Nationals Team Pursuit: National Jersey 1st
More track education coming your way! I forgot to mention my pathetic 200M that I did 20 minutes after winning the points race. The schedule had us women last most of the time, but on Saturday, they decided to make the points race the first thing and then run the match sprint 200M right after! I had also signed up for the match sprints because I want to practice these and I never have an opportunity. In order to figure out the heats, you do a flying 200M and your time will dictate whether you make it into the sprints and who you will be matching against. The match sprint is a very famous track race. Two riders take off; it’s a 3 lap race. You may have seen it since it sometimes looks like they are not moving or going slower than walking pace. The rule of thumb is that the race has to be faster than walking pace. It’s about tactics and smarts. I would not know this since I threw down the slowest 200M time. Not only was it really 20 minutes after the points race, I was also first and I had spent a lot of energy trying to win the last race. The person who was one spot ahead of me beat me by .01 second. No joke. This is track racing.
Onward to the team pursuit: This is not a mass start race but I really enjoy racing the pursuit as it is in some ways a points race. I need people to be ahead of me and I need to chase people down, so the pursuit is all about staying as close to your team mate as possible. Communication is very hard on the track so you have to come up with ways to communicate while racing that doesn’t involve talking. The pursuit is a team of three (for women) and we were to go 3 kilometers as fast as possible. The person on the front is working 33% harder than the people behind due to wind resistance. On a 333M track, the person in the front will traditionally take a half lap pull, swing up above the blue line and then swing down dramatically almost crashing into the back wheel of the person on the back. This allows for using minimal energy trying to get back on the wheel. All three must finish. The time is of the last finisher so you want to be grouped together at the finish.
My team consisted of Ingrid Alongi, Dana Walton and myself. Dana is a Trexlertown local racer who we were paired with thanks to a friend I met two years ago in Colorado Springs. Dana was kicking ass in the 40+ races and agreed, kindly, to be our third! (She’s also an ex-pro road racer.) We were originally going to race with Renee Schroeder, but she was sick and didn’t make the trip to Pennsylvania. I have ridden on Ingrid’s wheel, but we had never ridden with Dana prior to Sunday morning.
Prior to getting out and practicing together, we discussed tactics and the way to best move through the pursuit. What happens if someone is tired? What happens if someone is feeling strong? What do we do coming across the finish line? We had it all figured out but we had no time to really practice. Our start was 8AM on Sunday morning.
Sunday morning, I left my host house at 5:45 as we wanted to be at the track around 6:15 so we could be ready to roll by 6:45. The track was very full and everyone looked as silly as we did. We were all in our skin suits with time trial bars and our alien-like helmets. It was hard to practice as everyone was traveling at a different speed and all in groups of three. It was actually terrifying. I never got that close to Ingrid’s wheel as I always needed an out in case someone made a bad move in front of me.
After about 30 minutes of this, we got off the track, talked about our practice with Coach Andy (Ingrid’s husband was our coach du jour and since he is married to Ingrid, they had to get a “separation” for coaching purposes.) Andy was to stand by the start finish and scream out our times. If we were going too slowly for the total time we were after, he would point to the sky and scream up, if we were going too fast he would point down and scream down. It’s quite scientific, don’t you know?
We were the very first team to go. Ingrid was in first position, I was second and Dana was third. The gun went off and we went. My starts tend to be a little slow (read about the team sprint) but I got on Ingrid’s wheel by turn two. This was fast. Our first lap was ridiculously fast and our first kilometer would have gotten us a time around 3:40. Boy was I hurting and thinking how I had to go 6 more laps. If I didn’t have team mates and a person I didn’t know on my team that I was trying to not embarrass, I might have thought about slowing down. My tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth and I was desperately trying to get it unstuck. During the second kilo, we were slowing down and Andy was jumping up and down screaming up at us. My turn in the front was so painful and I felt like I was slowing, but I just tried to make it work and swung up and back down to use minimal effort. Dana was feeling good and got out and took a full lap pull, except she didn’t’ pull off after the lap, she kept going, I believe she did two laps. Then it was Ingrid and then me again. We messed up our finish a little and our time was 4:05. We wanted to go under 4 minutes, but for a team that had never ridden together, we were pretty happy.
We were even happier that we had the best time by over 17 seconds in the end.
Another jersey, another win and the end of my Masters Nationals experience!
On another exciting note, Ingrid and I had so much fun racing together (and she really likes Mix1 products) so she has decided to join TriBella for the next season. I am also contemplating racing Elites with her for the team sprint and if we can find a third person, the team pursuit, again. Ingrid is a born pursuiter, but I’m learning and learning to love it!
For more images from the race, visit USACycling.org.