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54 seconds?

Race Report from Vera Divenyi

US Masters Track Nationals


Team Sprint: 1st Place, National Champion

How do you prepare for a race that takes less than a minute? It’s funny. It sounds so short but it almost takes more preparation than a crit and by far more than a road race. You have to be on, ready to go and just do your thing, no looking back, no fiddling with anything, you just go!

I woke up at 7:30 and started to work and play a little (ok a lot) with facebook. I talked to my coach and he wanted me to spin for only 30 minutes. I asked my host family where I could ride and they gave me a 5 mile flat-ish ride. It’s hilly where I was staying. I took off at lunch time and headed up a short climb to start the ride. OUCH. My legs were toast from the day before and after about 15 minutes of riding, they settled in. Tyson is so right. He knows what I need to do and how much or little it will take to get it done. I took a few photos when I was out riding since the countryside is beautiful and oh so different from Colorado! One thing, eggs are certainly cheaper. You can buy a dozen farm fresh eggs on the side of the road for a dollar. You can also get three baskets of farm grown, vine ripe tomatoes for a dollar!

Back to work. I was finalizing a sales tax matrix (did I lose any of you?) and I had to get that done. I talked to Ingrid, my sprint partner, and she told me when she thought we would start. The individual pursuits took the entire day (ENTIRE) and she was tired. I have done the team sprint once before and that time I went first and it was a 250 track. This time, Ingrid thought that since I had not raced, that she could go first. She has a mean start.

The timing was off and instead of going around 7:30, we were going closer to 9. There were so many false starts and a little theater. This one sprint team (there are 3 for the men) went off and had a false start. Bang, Bang! This is a single for a false start and they should stop. Bang, bang! They are still going and going full speed. Four more shots and whistles and people waiving STOP at these men, and they finally stopped. They wasted more than 10 minutes with their bad first start and then their messing around between races. I suspect that the USAC fined them.

So what is the team sprint? Two team mates line up next to each other. The one in the spinter’s lane goes first and goes very hard. The one next will drop in behind and essentially draft off of them and then the first will pull off after one lap, gradually up and the second will go for the second lap. Ingrid started so well that she had 2 bike lengths immediately. I was nervous, but didn’t say anything to her as I realized on the back side that I was making up. Ingrid and I also motor pace behind my coach and although we never practiced this race, I know her riding style and felt very comfortable where I was. I need some time to ramp up and my starts are not that great. I caught Ingrid at the 3rd turn and by the last turn was going to need to back down as I had so much speed. She pulled up just when I needed her and I went. Around the second turn, her husband was there, screaming. I could hear him and that made me feel good. I then could hear that we were in first place over the announcer. I usually hear nothing when I’m racing. I tried to pick it up and I felt like I wasn’t, but I hear I actually did. I finished and came around and Andy was holding up the number 1 sign… I think, or he was flipping me off.

Off the track, practically falling down, I went to try to spin, but my nervousness was intensified as I waited for the next two to go. I heard that after their first lap they were in fourth place. No way. They can’t catch up! Then the last group went. False start. Oh, I was biting my finger nails. The anticipation is really horrible. Ingrid and I tried to spin on the rollers but were too nervous, or at least I was. Then they were off! I could hear the announcer and after the first lap, they were in fourth. I started to scream! We won!

And, that is how I got my first national championship jersey. I was grinning so big! I hugged Ingrid’s coach, her husband, the whole crew from Colorado Springs. And to celebrate? I went to Applebees and had a gin and tonic with Ingrid and her husband. Hey, we are in Trexlertown, PA and there was nothing else open.

Scratch That!

Race Report from Vera Divenyi

US Masters Track Nationals


Scratch Race: 3rd Place

I’m a mass start racer. What does that mean? I need to have people around me to feel like I’m racing. When I’m doing an individual (such as the 500M) I have no carrot in front of me, no one behind me and there is a little less of a desire to go fast. That little less desire means that I don’t place well in an individual race. Back to the mass start.

For you newbies to track and those that have no idea what the hell we do going in circles, the scratch race is a race of a certain distance, tonight it was 5K, and the first person across wins. I love the scratch race as it tends too be fast with less surges than the points race. (Stick around until Saturday when I race the points and I will explain that one to you, too.) I got 7th at Elite Nationals last year in the scratch and from then on, I decided it was one of my favorites. Funny how doing well in a race will do that for you! My favorite isn’t even one I do all that well in, it’s the Kierin and you go for 5 laps behind a speeding motorcycle that pulls off, then you race a scratch for 3 more laps. Since you now know what is a scratch, I don’t need to explain it to you. You are a smart track person!

Back to tonight’s race. I was worried that it would be a “recipe exchange”. My coach, the esteemed Mark Tyson refers to a race where no one does anything and everyone just sits in pedaling nicely a recipe exchange. Ingrid Alongi made sure that it wasn’t to be. After our neutral lap, she hit it hard and took about four people with her. She did it again, and again, and again. This broke up the race a little and also meant that we were not fooling around and no, I don’t want to know your recipe for zucchini bread!

Unfortunately, the race tonight was a little on the short side and I think we were done in less than 5 minutes. With five to go, I made sure I was in the first 3-5 spots at all times. I was behind someone who started to slow and I was a little boxed in when Brooke who got 2nd went around me and went hard. I grabbed her wheel. There were two that had already gone over her (on the track, it’s a little harder to move around as there are really few places you can go, particularly if you were in the sprinters lane.) I went with Brooke, we passed one person, I tried to come around her with about 200M to go, and almost had her on the turn, but just couldn’t get around her. I took 3rd.

No stars and stripes, but I will take the podium and the medal! And, if you look at photos, you will see that I’m in the new summer whites TriBella skin suit. I thought it would be fun to have a white version for the National championships!

And a few more items regarding track:
1) The sprinter’s lane is the lane closest to the inside. It is the shortest distance around the track and the least banked. You have to respect people in the sprinters lane.
2) The inside of the track, usually painted blue is the “cote”. You cannot race in the cote and cannot pass people in the sprinter’s lane in the cote. If you end up in the cote during a race, it’s usually because you are trying to avoid someone who came into your lane.
3) The sprinter’s lane has a black line on the inside of the track and a red line on the upper side of the track. The next line up is the blue line which is usually the middle of the track.
4) Track bikes are on a fixed gear. This means that when the bike is rolling, the cranks are moving, too.
5) The track bike has no breaks and only one gear. You need to choose that gear wisely!

As for the 500…..

I think I was 6th of 8.  Just not my race.  SO LONG waiting.  How many 55-59 men could there be?  I did the math that we would start around noon and I got to the track at 8:15 so I could ride it for a moment as racing started at 9.  The track is a little more round than CO Springs so it feels different – – shorter.  I didn’t end up racing until about 2:45!  It’s a very long wait for the 500M, which is a race that takes less than 45 seconds.  I warmed up at 8:30 and then again at 2:15.  I was hungry.  I ate all sorts of Powerbar products and went through almost 90 ounces of water as it was 93 and humid by the time 2 rolled around.
The good news: I looked fast.  Sporting the new white TriBella skinny suit, I was HAWT.  I forgot my white shoecovers at the host house and borrowed some shiny black ones.  I had my smurf helmet and I was ready to go!
The not so good news:  I’m not very fast in the 500M.