Tag Archives: Points Race
IA: Amanda and I headed out for Tuesday night racing at the 7-11 USOC Velodrome in Colorado Springs, on the 19th. On Tuesdays, they do mixed-gender categories A, B, C and juniors. Groups are self-selected for the most part, but A’s have the most fitness and experience, B’s in the middle, and C’s being the most low-key and great for beginners. The format of the night is usually a short sprint race, a medium distance race and an endurance race. On the roster for the evening was a Chariot, a Miss and Out, and a Points Race. We thought that for this blog, we’d do a play by play for each race, conversation style! It was Amanda’s first track racing experience and there was a nice big field to race with. Being a track racing veteran, I accompanied her for moral support, as well as to ease into the track racing season myself.
IA: Amanda, so, here you are ready to do your first set of track races. What’s going on in your mind?
AC: I would like to say upfront that the phrase “ready to do” makes me chuckle as that was definitely not how I was feeling. But to answer your question the overwhelming thought was “How am I going to tell Ingrid that this track racing thing is just not for me?” I was shaking in my lycra!
IA: If it makes you feel better, I was nervous too, and I’ve done lots of track races. But seriously, there’s something good about being a little nervous. It’s a sign that you still enjoy it!
Race #1, Chariot: From a standing start (with folks holding the racers who are clipped in and ready to go), racers race one lap around the track. First rider across the line wins.
IA: Amanda, what was your strategy for the Chariot?
AC: What is this strategy you speak of? My thoughts were in this order: 1) Don’t fall over 2) Don’t make someone else fall over 3) Pedal 4) Keep pedaling 5) Remember how to stop/get off
IA: I still think about #4 to this day. It’ll get you when you least expect it on the fixed gear. The Chariot was difficult, especially in a mixed-gender situation. In the future, I’d put on a smaller gear so that I can get a faster start to hopefully keep up with the men a little better at the start. Then I’d try to spin it out at the end and hold on to my position. And, I have to say, starting in my regular pursuit gear but not on the black line was really hard! Maybe it was the slight bank, maybe it was the close proximity of the other riders. It was many levels of awkward.
Race #2, Miss and Out: Mass start race, everyone starts at the rail. Each lap, the last rider across the line is pulled from the race. When only 3 riders are left, they sprint for final placing.
AC: So Champ, what different tactics did you use, without giving away all your secrets of course, to try to make it to the final 3 riders?
IA: There are two safe places to be in a Miss and Out, the very front or the very back, but they both cost a lot of extra energy. From the front you can pretty much guarantee you’ll beat someone across the line without getting boxed in–but you’re pulling the whole time. From the back, you can always barely sneak around and beat folks at the line, but you’re usually riding high on the track, which means more distance and potentially more time in the wind as well. I hung out at the back, but there were some folks there with a lot of track experience that matched my moves and I was outsmarted at the end. Additionally, the pace was pretty high over all for a MnO.
Race #3, Points Race: Mass start race, everyone starts at the rail. Every 5 laps, the first 4 riders across the line receive points. Winner is the one with the most points at the end of the race.
IA: Amanda, you did quite well in this race and had a pretty strong sprint there at then end. What were you thinking at that point?
AC: My mind was racing after trying to hang with the pack for the 20 laps de speed so my thoughts were more jumpy than usual. Some of the highlights were “I totally took that dude that I sat on his wheel for 19.99 laps! Did Ingrid see me? I want to do this again! Why am I hacking up a lung? I should have done some things differently to work my way up sooner. Wait what is that burn in my quads? Can’t wait till next time!”
IA: That’s called track hack–the cough. And, it was pretty hot and dry out that night! But, it’s exhilarating when you have those breakthroughs.
AC: Boss, how did you do and how did you feel about it?
IA: It was a pretty fast group, so my goal was to stay with the pack as well. Although I managed to get some points, I definitely have some things I’ll do differently next time strategy-wise. The pace was really fast, so I was thankful for the post-sprint breaks to catch a breath. I had a great time talking smack amongst the other racers during cool down after the race, as well. That’s the thing I love about week night racing at the track. Everyone has fun, rides hard and enjoys each other’s company.
AC’s wrap up: My take away from last night’s race was an extremely positive one. I actually really loved it once I got over the fear of spinning in circles at high speeds with no brakes on a fixed gear. I could have never even gotten on the track without Vera taking me by the hand last weekend and showing the basics and getting me onto that big intimidating embankment. Racing with Ingrid last night was the best intro I have ever had to something that seems so huge. I learned so much not only about track and cycling and nutrition and on and on and on but also about the history of women’s cycling and how far things have come. Months ago I learned that Ingrid is a great cyclist and friend, but being with her at the track last night took everything I knew to be true of her to the next level. Watching her on her bike at the track is like watching a dolphin in the ocean. She has so much wisdom, joy, grace, talent, control, and comfort there and it is incredible to see. She not only lent me her beautiful bike (which she will never get back) but she also taught me about gear choices and setting up my bike and even made sure I had enough water and food. Ingrid went way above and beyond to make sure I had what I needed and it made all the difference. First races are nerve racking and the first race on the track was by far my most nervous race to date but it was also my favorite because of the support. A man sitting next to me turned and said while she was racing the Points Race “wow your friend is really really good” and I said “yeah, yeah you are right she is a bad @$$”! Thanks to Vera and Ingrid I think I may have found my need for speed!
IA: And I made Amanda change her gear and put her wheel back on at the end of the night. Like a boss!
Vera, here. I’m your go-to for track 101. We have now had the pleasure to be back racing for three weeks at the Colorado Springs 7-Eleven velodrome. For me, coming back is like seeing family. Even though the track opened in April, racing didn’t start until the May 22 with Tuesday nights and May 24 for Thursday night races. What is the difference? Tuesdays are A, B and C races. They do not count for points, but are a lot of fun! Thursday races are Category 1/2/3 and count for points to upgrade as well as points towards top racers in Colorado.
The 24th was really fun. Cari Higgins has managed to get a lot more women interested in the track and I am so thankful. We actually had 9 women racing which is more than we have had in a while. I’ve also been working on Therese Johnson of the ProDesign team and she has started to come and race, too. I just love track and track is a happy family that tries to rip each other’s legs off. Sounds good, right?
It’s been a while so I cannot remember the first week’s races too well other than Katie “Effing” Compton and Cari “World Track Kick Butt’er” Higgins were in the house and trying to school each other which in turn were schooling us 7 other ladies. Each Thursday night we start with a short race, do a medium race and then finish with a longer race. I think we started with a 5 lap balls out, tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth race. I think I was 4th or 5th. I cannot remember. Cari and Katie took off and we all tried to hang on. The second race was a 12 lap scratch so that the first person across the line wins. Again, same scenario, Katie and Cari went hard off the start, the 7 others tried to hold on for dear life. I think I was 4th or 5th. I cannot remember. See a pattern? Well BOOM, I did something in the third race. I remember it as I did well. (Another pattern.) The last race was a 25 lap points race. As you may recall from last year’s track 101, a points race is where each 5 laps there is a sprint for points. The first person across the line gets 5 points, the second gets 3 points, the third gets 2 points and the fourth gets 1 point. I have never been great at points races, but had a points race epiphany last year and won master’s nationals. This points race, I did not go for points in the first sprint as I knew I didn’t want to wear myself out, but I was right there with everyone, in the second set of points, I was 3rd or 4th behind Katie and Cari (dynamic duo) but I sprinted onto their wheels right after the sprint was over. I did this as many people will rest up right after the sprint but I had a sneaky suspicion that Katy and Cari would go and drop the field, which is exactly what they did. I rode with them and traded pulls. I did not contest the sprints for anything other than 3rd as I was working very hard to just trade in the pulls. With two laps to go, I got tired. They lapped the field, I stayed out alone and got 3rd overall. That felt good, but OUCH did that hurt!
Last week, we had the fabulous sprinter Maddie Godby at the track for races. We did again, a sprint length, a mid-length and a long one. I again, cannot remember the races so much, but I got a 3rd in the short race (felt boxed in and couldn’t make more of a move) and a 4th (in an 8 lap snowball race) and an explosion. We raced the final race with the men and for some reason, the cat 3 men like to leave the women up front pulled for a while and then they get annoyed and pass us but we still hold our own. I tried to cover all the moves, but just wasn’t feeling super spry. I was dropped with two laps to go. I’m hoping this isn’t my new pattern.
Last night, we had sprint championships. The wind was whipping, potential tornadoes were about and some occasional dark, black cloud would pass, but us tracksters pushed on. The match sprint is a wonderful spectator race. We start with a flying 200M to build our ranking. The times on those put you against your opponent in the first set of match sprints. Match sprints are when 2 racers are on the track and do a 3 lap race. It sounds short and easy, but there is plenty of tactics going into the sparring. I first raced Kate Grachek of jetcycling. I won this sprint and I think this was my very first match sprint win, ever. Second, I took on my teammate Renee Schroeder who is quick and very knowledgeable when it comes to match sprinting and track racing, in general. She has been track racing a very long time. I know her strengths which makes sparring a little easier, but frankly, I didn’t know her weaknesses as she’s been racing like a champ the past three weeks! I was in the back on this race and she held me at the rail so hard that for a moment, I was worried I would slide out. She would not let me slow to get behind her as to make it harder for her to watch, she just kept me there. Finally with a lap to go, I just got nervous and went for it, flew down the track and took the sprinters lane. I turned in the final turn to see where she was and she was right there, on my line! I picked it up and won the sprint by nothing more than a half a wheel. And there was my second match sprint win and the state title.
We also raced an 8 lap point a lap race, I was second as Kate took off for some time doing her time trials. It’s hard to catch her once she gets going! Our final race was cancelled as the sky turned a very dark grey and lightening started coming out of the sky.
All in all, it’s so fun to be back at the track. We are racing State championships this weekend, so more race reports to follow!
Race Report from Vera Divenyi
US Masters Track Nationals
Masters Nationals Points race: National Jersey 1st
To continue your track education, I will explain the points race. Remember how I said I prefer the mass start races? Well, the points race is a mass start race. We all sit up at the rail and roll off for a neutral lap and then begin to race. The race is like a crit with primes except you do not get a free massage, sunglasses or money, you get points. Five for first place, three for second, two for third and one for the fourth person across the start finish line at pre-determined times. The race was 30 laps and there were points every 6 laps. This creates a lot of surges so you have to determine whether you have it to get the points or if you need to just position yourself when others are sprinting. If you lap the field you get 20 points. If the field laps you, you lose 20 points. It’s a cruel world.
The fields were combined so we raced 30-45 age groups. This put about 17 people in our race which I prefer as again, I did not want a recipe exchange. The varying abilities of each person were an unknown to me. We started pretty fast and at lap 4, it started to get faster. Dana Walton in the 40+ group is strong and I knew that she would be out for gold and she was. Racers usually want to be in a good position come points lap so with two or three laps to go, people start to position. I went down to the sprinters lane with one lap before the first points were awarded and ended up getting boxed in and stuck. Dana took max points and I was behind someone who essentially stopped trying with a half a lap to go. I stopped trying to sprint as I was going to get nothing.
OK, at lap 10 I decided something: I decided this wasn’t going to be my race. I should just finish, but my legs were really tired after a lot of racing earlier in the week. I spent Thursday and Friday in Philadelphia and the day before, my ride with my friend Rafael had felt good, but the weather and consecutive jumps were starting to take their toll. I had not had as much of a warm up as I wanted and now I was wondering if that was going to be my downfall.
At lap 12, I moved to the front but did not contest any points. Ingrid was in the mix and I think she got one.
What I find so amusing about bike racing or maybe just me is that I can make a true determination about my fitness and believe it. In the first three laps of a crit, I used to convince myself that I sucked and that no one else was suffering. But, a few laps in, and I was fine and maybe I would even win the crit. The same thing was happening in the points race, but rather than believe that I was not going to get any points, I just hung around in the front. One thing about me is that I am very competitive and when someone goes off the front, I tend to want to chase them. I ended up being in a good spot at lap 18 and took one point without too much going on. OK, I have a point. Now what?
With about 15 to go, a girl from Seattle hit the gas and went. Her goal was to try to get away and lap the field or take max points at lap 18. I chased and had Ingrid chase with me. Ingrid and I worked together taking turns on the front pulling. We caught her with a lap to go before the sprints. She was slowing and in the sprinters lane. I yelled for her to move and work with us (this would have been to her benefit) but I think she was very tired and just trying to take the shortest trip around the track. Ingrid had passed me a while back and I was on her wheel, Ingrid and I went around this girl and then I rode the red line (just the edge of the sprinter’s lane) to make it a little harder if someone was going to try to pass me. Ingrid got the full 5 points and I got 3.
With 6 more laps to go, we were now in the running. I no longer felt like I couldn’t race this as I was RACING this race. The pace was getting quicker and quicker but I was in a good spot. I did a little math and figured I was in second or third place. As we were racing with other age categories, we were all racing for just one set of points and honestly, the aged 40-44 ladies were kicking ass and taking names. I knew that in the first three sprints, they had taken the majority of the points. I needed some more to solidify, but I was also happy to take Ingrid along the line with me or behind her. I am more comfortable in the pack frenzy so I had already told Ingrid I would protect her and for her to just find my wheel. We are an excellent team as our racing styles compliment one another. She has a solid punch and can maintain the speed while I have a sprinter’s punch and need a wheel to follow.
I had learned from the first 10 laps to not ride in the sprinter’s lane as I did not want to get boxed in. I was riding around the blue line so I could cover anyone diving down the track from the rail. (The rail is the top of the track and when you dive down from the top you can get a lot of momentum. Why do a lot of people not do this? It’s more difficult to ride at the rail as it’s up track.) Someone went and I went with her and I thought that Ingrid could come around, but there were too many people around her.
I sprinted and was 3rd over the line. I knew that the two ladies ahead of me were 40-44. I was going to come around one but I heard from Olga that she was relegated a place for coming around someone out of the sprinter’s lane and I didn’t want that to happen.
I continued to cool down in one lap, but I wasn’t sure where I had placed. With a points race, there is confusion in the sprint. I wasn’t sure where I stood and wasn’t sure where I placed. I held up a 2 to Andy, Ingrid’s husband. Back at the rollers under the tent, I started to wonder if I had potentially won.
How did I find out? The USADA people decided to drug test Ingrid as she was second in the race and I looked at the results on their board… and I was first! My second national jersey!
And gossip at the track… apparently someone decided after asked by USADA to test that he was not going to submit. This is an automatic two-year suspension. Way to go, dude! Racing at masters track nationals and doping must make one feel really good about themselves. I know who the guy is and let’s say that he resembles a football player. This is not new. In 2009, a world record was broken at Master’s Nationals in Colorado Springs. A broken world record requires a doping control. A few months later, we learned that this particular racer had taken human growth hormones. Sad, but true.
Big thanks to James Weeks, husband of Olga Weeks of SVMIC Cycling. Olga was Rachel’s former teammate and current coach from Tennessee–small world! He took some amazing pictures at Master’s Track Nats. Check out the rest of the week at www.wolfsplace.net. Thanks James!