Tag Archives: Track Racing

RMSG – Track Edition

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Rocky Mountain States Games on the track took place this weekend and our trackies were out there en force. Read more from Amanda Cyr!

After racing against the big girls Friday night, slinging each other in the Madison, and a late night of adrenaline rushes The Boss and I headed back to the track to compete in the Rocky Mountain State Games.  On tap for the track edition was the flying 200, scratch, points, and 500 meter. Just in case you haven’t been reading our other blogs here is a super speedy run down.

Flying 200: 2 lap wind up to speed and then timed over the last 200 meters. Fastest time makes you winner

Scratch: 10 laps and whoever crosses the finish line first is winner winner

Points: 20 laps with points awarded every 5 laps for the first 4 people across the line (5,3,2,1). Most points is winner.

500: Held start (like a TT) with opponent across track, gun goes off, you go real fast for 500 meters or until you die.

Ok, got it? Great, it is about time.

I decided to go big or go home with my gear for the flying 200 but to be honest I was scared I wouldn’t be able to even turn the pedals. With the Boss starting right behind me I have to say the pressure was on. I ended up taking a not so desirable line coming out of the last corner but was still able to set a PR. Next up… the Boss. I knew I had the lead up to her ride but wasn’t sure I had set a good enough time to fend off the beast. We ended up taking 1st and 2nd!

Overall up to this point: Amanda 1st, Boss 2nd.

Next up was the 10 lap scratch. The pace was definitely manageable and no one was feeling any wild spurs to attack too early thankfully. As we were coming out of turn 4 heading into the start of the last lap the rider in front of me swerved very dramatically forcing me to either let off the gas and kiss my placing goodbye or make an aggressive move and come up and over 3 riders wide. I jumped hard but who was right there in the sprinter lane not giving up any daylight? The Boss. I kicked and came down over her. We finished the scratch 1st and 3rd.

Overall to this point: Amanda 1st, Boss 2nd with her best event up next.

Points races are not my favorite. You gotta do math and sprint and they are long and keep track of who has what and where and god I am exhausted just thinking about it. I knew the Boss would be out to put her hurt on me and everyone else there. I made sure to keep myself in the points but what can I say, she is a much smarter and more aggressive racer! The Boss took 2nd and I took 3rd.

Overall to this point: Amanda 1st and Boss 2nd but only 2 points separated us which meant the overall win would come down to the very last event. Also, 2 other girls were very close to us and are both great 500m racers. Choke choke choke.

My worst fear of having to duke it out with the Boss across the track from me was now a reality. To make it worse everyone was trying to really psych me out before we went off. Thanks “friends” I was very aware of who I was lining up against, don’t need your help!

Standing starts have not been my strength so having to get off the line and up to full speed in 500 meters is extra hard if you don’t really get off the line. We both got to our positions and got all clipped in and ready to box. 5,4,3,2,1 we were off. The Boss in her aero bars and me praying for death we finished without knowing how either person had done or our times. I knew I had pushed myself because my legs were on fire…wait correction more like FI-yah. I ended up setting a PR and getting under 40 seconds which was something I never thought I would be able to do.

Overall: I LOVE LOVE LOVE racing my teammate, mentor, friend, and boss. She pushes me in every way and yet takes the time to teach me while she makes me hurt.

Naked had a great podium day at the track today with a 1st and 2nd! More importantly we had a blast with lots of laughs and encouragement for each other.

Amanda Cyr

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Racing with the Big Girls

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Ingrid was invited to race track at the US Grand Prix of Sprinting last week (along with Amanda) to race not only national champions, but world champs too! Read how the races went down!

Last weekend, Amanda Cyr and I got the chance to compete amongst the world’s best track racers at the US Grand Prix of Sprinting track cycling event in Colorado Springs. In attendance was an all-star line up including , Sarah Hammer, Katie Compton and Sofia Arreola.

I entered the Omnium, which consists of 6 events, where racers get points for placings in each event, while Amanda entered the Sprint and Keirin events. Amanda and I also entered the Team Sprint together, in which we set a team PR for ourselves!

It was pretty audacious for me to enter the race and I had to remind myself not to spend time or energy feeling like a I should not be there! As a result, Amanda and I made a pact that we would not spend the two days talking about how under prepared we are, or how beginner we are, or any of the other self doubts that can creep into the infield conversations. Track racers spend the entire day together in corrals under shade tents in the infield where they warm up on rollers, eat, hydrate, and chit chat between races and heats. There’s nothing worse than having an annoying “Debbie Downer” in your corral complaining while you mentally prep for the next event. Unlike other kinds of bike racing where you can retreat to your car or a quiet spot to warm up, track racers spend the entire day together in close quarters. You can’t really move once you’re parked with all your stuff; rollers, cooler, etc., so there is some etiquette to being in your corral. Keeping yourself from being annoying is one of the best ways you find yourself with options for sharing the next race.

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There were 12 women in my Omnium, including teams from Mexico, Canada, Guatemala, other parts of the US, as well as some other young local up and comers. I was completely thrashed and the Omnium was more grueling than any stage race on the road that I can remember. The intensity combined with hot temperatures during the day–not to mention and the high calibre of racing–took its toll on me and I found myself working hard just to make it through the event. While I held my own with top 10 finishes in a couple of the timed events, the mass-start races tested my high intensity endurance and let’s just say–I got schooled.

Having had a few days to reflect, I am really thankful for the opportunity to participate in such an event. While I have some natural talent on the track, it was great to see firsthand what it really takes to compete at the world class level. Sure, I can fantasize about how much better I’d be if I had more time to train instead of squeezing workouts in between my duties as a Co-Founder and CEO. To be a world class track racer takes more than just “more time to train”. It’s a huge commitment not to be taken lightly, it’s coming back day after day to make improvements that amount to fractions of seconds. While I was able to have fun and enjoy the races no matter where I placed, the other competitors had expectations, pressure, goals, and disappointments. I left the weekend with a humbleness and respect for these professional athletes. They give us all something to dream about.

2012 US Master’s Track Cycling Championships Recap

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One of our resident track racing super stars, Ingrid, recaps her experience at Masters Track Cycling National Championships. Our team was well represented and we came back with some serious bling!

I competed in Masters Track Cycling National Championships at the 7-11 Velodrome in Colorado Springs at the end of July. I also run a software company in downtown Boulder. One of the benefits of running a company is that I was able to take a week off to race. One of the downsides is that as soon as I got back, I was right back into the thick of things. Here’s my delayed recap of the racing, and luckily, most of it was written right away while it was still fresh…

With some upgrades in training and equipment, I looked forward to hitting some PRs on the timed events and my goals were to win the Individual Pursuit and Best All-around Rider competition.

Tuesday, July 24th was the first event for me, the 2 kilometer Individual Pursuit. I was hoping to win this one, but I missed the win by .2 seconds. It’s probably the most disappointing silver medal I’ve gotten. However, it wasn’t all bad, I did set a personal record at 2:38.98.

I refocused my efforts on the 500m TT the next day. While the 2k pursuit favors riders with more endurance and road training, the shorter 500m TT favors sprinters and those with powerful, explosive starts (and that also means good starting technique). While everyone utilizes aero bars in the Pursuit, the field is split in the 500, with pure sprinters opting for their sprint handlebars as they wind up their larger gears. I use aero bars in the 500m, and rely on my top end spin at the end of the race to keep me fast. My cadence peaked out at over 130 rpm by the end of the effort.

Although I’ve never thought of myself as a sprinter, I’ve been working on my standing start quite a bit the last couple of years. It seemed to pay off and I set a PR at 40.20 seconds (I was hoping to get under 40 seconds–next time!), which earned me a silver medal. It’s amazing how excited I was about this silver, quite a contrast from the disappointment from the day before.

Thursday afternoon was the Points Race. This is a mass start race where riders sprint for points every 6 laps. The rider with the most points at the end of the race is the winner. It can be a pretty complicated race because you have to keep track of who has points–not easy when you’re riding hard and gasping for air, let alone doing math! The level of experience between Vera and I allowed us to dominate the race, putting her into the top spot on the podium, while I held on for 4th place (and another podium finish!).

Friday was another mass start race, the Scratch Race. This is shorter than the Points race and whoever crosses the line first at the finish wins. It tends to be more of a sprinter’s event, and the pace can often times be slower overall until the final sprint. Endurance riders try to keep the pace high to tire the pure sprinters. Because we dominated the race so strongly the day before, we knew our work would be cut out for us, and sure enough, an early attack by the Boulder Orthopedics team set the tone for the race. I was trying to work as little as possible and save my strength for the final sprint, but because of the small field, I had no choice but to work, as we reeled in the break. As soon as that was accomplished, her team mate countered–textbook perfect–only a few laps to go. After my previous efforts and my poor choice of gear (too hard), I missed the jump. The field was shattered, but I held on for a Bronze medal.

To be honest, at this point, I was starting to feel pretty bummed out, and tired. I’ve never won an individual national title as a Junior or a Master, and the fact that I’ve got so many silver medals was starting to get to me. (To top it off, after finally getting food, I arrived at my hotel at 7pm to find that they had canceled my reservation 30 minutes prior to my arrival.) Although the distances of these races is short, the power output and intensity is extremely high. The fatigue is on the level of doing a stage race on the road. Once I finally got a new room and cranked up the AC, I focused on getting a good night’s sleep (and watching the Olympics opening ceremonies!). Saturday would be a long day–the longest of the week–with the Match Sprints.

Saturday morning was a little rough, but cured by a trip to the coffee shop. The day started with a 200m Flying TT,w which is then used to calculate the seed position in the match sprint tournament. Having a good line and technique is really important and I can’t say I had either that day. But, I managed to pull the 2nd fastest time, to Shannon Moak, the same woman who beat me in the 500m TT.

After a full day of sprinting, warming up, cooling down, eating, drinking and trying to get any semblance of rest in the heat, Shannon and I met for the gold medal round Saturday afternoon. I was pretty intimidated given her speed in both the 500m TT and the flying 200m TT. I knew I’d have to outsmart her to win, all the while I was hoping my legs wouldn’t buckle at being in the heat all day. The first round ended in a disqualification when she came down into the sprinter’s lane on top of me. This caused me to slow down and roll into the cote in order to avoid crashing. In track racing, once you commit to taking the pole lane, not only do you have to stay in it, no one is allowed to pass underneath you. They must go completely around you and pass safely by coming above you on the track. It’s hard to say who would have won had there been no foul play, but I had to quickly refocus and get ready to sprint against her again–the winner would be determined from the best 2 out of 3 in the heat.

So many things were going through my mind. Knowing my luck, I’d lose the next round and then have to sprint for a third time to break the tie. And after all, I’m great at getting the dreaded 2nd place. It was hot out and I really didn’t want to have to do a 3rd round, so I was determined to win this one. To make it even more interesting, I had to lead this heat, meaning I had an obligation to ride in front of her for at least 1/2 a lap, giving me a disadvantage in that I could not see her every move. She could presumably jump when I wasn’t looking, and have just enough gain that I could not come around–and given her speed, that would be a disastrous outcome for me.

I rode slowly, not looking where I was going so I could keep my eye on her behind me as best I could. I felt like I was going to crash myself out from nerves and the slow speeds on the banking. I picked things up a little and with 1 1/2 laps to go, I jumped from the front. She matched my jump and I could hear her coming up next to me. I slowed just a little to gather my composure, before I poured it on with 3/4 laps to go. This was a long sprint already, and I don’t exactly know how, but I managed to keep ahead for the win!

Finally, my very first individual title, and all the consistency lead me to win the Best All Around Rider designation that I had hoped for!

Sunday closed out the week with the team events, and it was a great chance to end a long week with my teammie! Vera and I were defending champions in both the Team Sprint and Team Pursuit competitions, but the other teams came very prepared this year. Vera and I took 4th in the Team Sprint, and a Silver in the Team Pursuit (with Therese Johnson from Pro Design Cycling). The team pursuit, despite not bringing a winning time was smooth and the team worked very well together despite the fatigue we all felt from the week of racing.

Master Track Nationals: Individual Pursuit

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First day of Master Track Nationals and Ingrid already pulls a podium finish!

I competed in the 2 kilometer individual pursuit this am. For those not familiar, it is a timed event with one person on each side of the track (home straight and back straight). From a standing (you are held just like in a TT) start, you complete the race. Our average speed from standing was about 27mph, and with only one gear :-)

This is one of my favorite events, but a win at nats (as a master and as a junior) has always alluded me. Many podiums, but no win. Sadly, today was no different as I was beat by Anne Doneley in our match up by about 0.2 seconds.

I did clock a PR though at 2:38.9.

Anne’s time was 2:38.7. Therese Johnson came in third at 2:42.8.

Now that that’s over, I can relax and have fun. Tomorrow is the 500 meter TT for Vera and I, and Renee I believe is racing an event as well. I’m loafing around the hotel room, and still coughing from the effort. It’s amazing how wrecked you can get from a 2 1/2 minute event!

Time for Some Track Racing!

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*note* This is a dual blog post with Ingrid Alongi (IA) and Amanda Cyr (AC). Enjoy!

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!

The Trek to the Track

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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!

Non-trivial pursuit

Race Report from Vera Divenyi

US Masters Track Nationals

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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.

Good Point?

Race Report from Vera Divenyi

US Masters Track Nationals

7/29/2011

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!

Scratch That!

Race Report from Vera Divenyi

US Masters Track Nationals

7/27/2011

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.