Tag Archives: US Masters Track Nationals
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.
Our tracksters compete in Day 2 of Master Nats. We had two podium finishes in the 500m TT. Here’s Vera’s take.
Day 2 of master’s nationals. Today is my official first day, but Ingrid already raced yesterday! We rode the 500m today. This is a 500m time trial which is about 1.5 times around the track. Some people do it in aero bars and others in regular bars. It depends on comfort level in the bars. This isn’t my best event and last year I was 6th at masters nationals. I had spent some time this season working on my starts (“Explosive!” “Go!” “Scrape that Shit off your Shoe!!”) and each time I do the 500, my time has improved but I still was not hoping for much.
The race is run in heats with racers starting opposite sides of the track. We won’t run into each other as we have a ways to go and the race is so short.
I went in the second heat and Ingrid in the fourth. I race in my regular bars but all aero’d out and as Ingrid is so good at pursuit, she is happier in her pursuit bars. I had a personal best at 41.6. Ingrid killed it at just over 40 seconds. She got the silver and I ended up in 5th behind therese Johnson and Ann Donely. I’m happy and so is Ingrid.
The gold went to a woman from Texas. If you saw her legs you would understand why!
Oh and racing 40 seconds is hard!!! I warmed up for over 45 minutes and cooled down for 30 and my legs still hurt!!
Tomorrow, we race the points race.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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…..