US Elite National Champion!

Last weekend I travelled to Los Angeles to compete at the US Elite National Track Championships (Timed) held at the Velo Sports Center in Carson, CA. I had signed up for the 4km Individual Pursuit, the International Omnium, and the 4km Team Pursuit, so in theory I had a ton of racing jammed into 2.5 days of racing!

Photo by Brian Hodes /

Friday Aug 9

The first race of the day was the 4km IP. I did a 4:53.8 here back in 2009 and thought I might be able to get down to a 4:45 thanks to living at altitude since mid-June. That wasn’t the case and I limped around to finish with a 4:59 which was a bit faster than the dismal 5:06 that I rode in Colorado Springs in early July. My time ended up slotting me into 8th place out of 13 starters, one position worst than my 7th place from ’09. Not horrendous, but not flying either.

In the evening I had the flying laps (250m) and clocked 15.714. Again, not great and that put me in 15th out of 18. If I had an aero helmet on that may have gained me a little bit of time but what’s done is done.

The next race of the evening was the 120-lap points race. That went a lot better than the point race I contested in Colorado Springs at the US Grand Prix of Sprinting. I took one of the springs, grabbed points in another, but was a couple laps down and ended up getting pulled somewhere about lap-90. Not great but it was a good speed workout and I felt like I could actually try some moves vs. hanging on for life in COS! Another 15th place. At this point, my Omnium competition was definitely over but based on the less than ideal training and moving house across the country in the past 2-months I probably couldn’t have expected much more.

The final even of the evening was the Elimination race. Despite starting at the back I got myself into what I thought was a safe position and survived 5 laps before getting eliminated. C’est la vie.

Sat Aug 10
I thought that my IP from Fri would could towards the Omnium but I found our on Fri that I would be riding another IP as part of the omnium this morning. I made the decision to only take one race number to the track but found out <10min before my start that two numbers were required. Rookie mistake. I was sent on a wild goose chase by the officials to get a new number but time was fast running out and I decided to pull the plug on my Sat racing and save my legs for Sunday’s Team Pursuit where I had a good chance of winning something.

Sunday Aug 11
After a lot of warming up and sitting around, I got in a short practice run with Liam Donoghue, Stefan Rothe, and Jake Deuhring amongst a traffic-filled velodrome. It got a little nuts with a few riders doing standing starts so we pulled the plug and got off the track while we were all still alive. After sitting through all of the team sprints we finally lined up for the TP. With the other guys doing times in the 4:40’s for their IP’s vs my 4:59, we made the decision that I would take over at the end of the first lap and go as hard as I could for 2-3 laps, pull off, then let the other guys finish up the job. The plan worked perfectly and we ripped around the track to come home with the fastest qualifying ime of 4:30.5! Holy s**t… Fastest IP that I ever did was a 4:41.4 in LA in ’09 so to be part of a team doing a 4:30 was both surprising and cool.

For the final I expected us to maybe go a bit slower as the other guys had raced the pursuit, scratch race, and kilo the previous day /evening. After lots more sitting around and keeping warmed up on the rollers we lined up for the final against Zak Kovalcik, Justin Williams, Al Urbanski, and Colin Gibson. We went with the same plan again with me doing 2-3 of the fastest laps that I could… I got the guys up to 37mph, peeled off and then it was all up to them to seal the deal. Watching the 3 of them ride for the final 3.5mins was nail biting as the splits were very close at the half way point, but in the end my team pulled ahead to finish with a 4:27.973 over the silver medal’s 4:30.283 ride. We went even faster AND were not US Elite National Team Pursuit Champions! Daaaaamn!

Just like Stefan Rothe said, I couldn’t have picked a better group of guys to win my first Elite National Champion title with. Other cool factoids are that Stefan and I both got our US Citizenship last year, and 3 of our team are dual-citizens hence the team name “Three Plus One”. Even better was having my wife and daughter there to see the event unfold and getting to take them up on the podium. Priceless!

US Grand Prix of Sprinting

So… That didn’t quite go so well! Before Friday morning I don’t recall ever doing a flying lap. Nothing quite like doing it for the first time at a UCI race. I managed to not set the world on fire with a 20.195 ride over the 333m lap which works out at a slugging 59-ish kph. I even got chicked by some of the pro women. Oops.

Next race on the schedule was the Points Races. I figured this would go better being more of an endurance event… Not so much. I was a lap down within <20 laps of the 90 lap race, then suddenly there were a couple pistol shots and the race was stopped. No one knew why but we later found out that the UCI realized there was no medical people on site. Oops. So we all sat there for 30mins while the organizers arranged for medical support. They eventually arrived just in time for the hottest part of the day, we resumed racing, and no longer had I started, I was pulled by the UCI official as I was getting lapped again. Damn… Maybe not having my road bike to train on has screwed up my form more than I thought.

In the evening I ventured back to the track for the Elimination Race… At this point I was sitting in last place in the Omnium so I lined up at the back for the race start. Not the best place to be in so as soon as the race started I got my nose to the front of the pack. I managed to stay in for a few laps before being eliminated. I guess it could have been first… At least I wasn’t eliminated on lap 1!

Overall, the first day mostly sucked.

On Day 2 the first even I was going to ride was the Individual Pursuit. I got in a good warmup and was all ready to go, did one last spin around the infield when I got the dreaded psss psss psss sound. Yup, I flatted my rear disc on all the crap on the track infield and apron. Not enough time to borrow a spare wheel from someone so I decided to scratch it and pull the plug on the remaining racing for the weekend. In hindsight that wasn’t an entirely bad decision as the other events got rain delayed until 8pm with racing not concluding until 11pm.

Time to figure out how to re-align my duck before Nationals in LA in 3.5 weeks time!

CO State Track Champs

Warming up for the Team Pursuit. Photo: © Dejan Smaic | 2013

What better way to drop into the local race scene than sign up for the State Track Championships 3 weeks after arriving at altitide! That’s exactly what I did last weekend, racing on the track both days. I wasn’t expecting any spectactular performances as the 10 days leading up to the race were spent trying to get my back to feel like normal while also trying to train at the same time. Nothing worse than being in a conflict between wanting to train hard, but trying to not do any further damage to your back. I think I screwed up my back lifting my daughter into the car. She’s not getting any lighter, and combined with a removable car seat, that’s ~50lbs of awkward weight to deal with. 1 rep of that is nothing, but do it constantly 7 days a week and you’ll get it! The other genius part of the equation was my employer and shipping company delaying shipping my goods (and bikes) so that they could wait until other coworkers stuff was ready to sail across the pacific. Great… So the past three weeks have been spent navigating Denver’s roads on my track bike w/out brakes and trying to get some kind of training effect out of it all. Not ideal!

So excuses aside, the racing went reasonably well… I signed up for the Omnium so I had the Individual Pursuit (4km), Scratch Race, and Kilo on Saturday, then the Team Pursuit and Points Race on Sunday.

Individual Pursuit – I felt OK, but I was also matched up with the rider that ended up winning the IP (and Omnium) and he caught me towards the end. First time I’ve been caught in a pursuit… Ouch. Not wicked fast, but good enough for 4th and less than 1sec out of the medals. In some ways, I’m happy with 4th vs. getting the chocolate medal, but it would still have been nice to been in the 4:40’s and not a 5:06ish.

Scratch Race – This started off reasonably OK, then later in the race I thought I saw 13 laps to go on the lap board, but after a group had accelerated ahead I realized it was 3 to go and the game was over. Dumb mistake, but better to make it at a non important event than something like nationals! I think I got 6th.

Kilo – It went about as good as a Kilo can go. It hurt for all 1 min 13seconds which was good enough for 4th and a hair outside of the medals again.

After a 70 mile drive north back to home in Denver, a 9hr nap in my own bed, then a 70 mile drive back south to Colorado Springs, it was time to try and redeem something from the weekend!

Team Pursuit – I raced with the winner of the previous days IP (Jacob Deuhring), Steven Herzfeld, and Greg Auld, we combined out efforts to come away with the Gold medal with a 4:44 ride. Not wicked fast but fast enough to get the job done over some faster older geezers from Boulder that included a couple master world champs.

Point Race – The final race of the weekend and I had a plan of action. Nothing to lose so I might as well go for it! I crossed the line 5th at the 5 lap sprint, then took a flier on lap 8 and stayed away to take max points on lap 10. I sat up to be absorbed by the group, but things went from good to bad when I got blocked in and ridden down onto the Cote d’Azur while a strong group of guys sped off never to be seen again. I stuck it out and finished in 4th again, slightly irritated at what could have been a better ride. C’est la vie.

Overall it was a fun wekeend of racing, the Colorado track crowd are really cool, I get to be 1/4 CO State Champ, and got some cool photos out of it too. Roll on this Friday/Saturday’s US Grand Prix of Sprinting! Ouch.

Team Time Trial

Post race chat with Kevin Kawainui (BME Racing) and Mark McClay (Hickam Area Cycling Club).
Photo by: Sau Hsu.

This morning I raced a 40k Team Time Trial with one team made and a couple friends. I haven’t had luck sourcing a 1″ fork for my TT bike so I ended up using my TK2 track bike with 53 x 14 (Fixed).

We hadn’t practiced together as a team, but three of us have raced a few TTT’s before so we just picked a rider order, agreed on rotation direction, and went for it.  We were the first team off… Dry roads and minimal wind (rare!). We were working together really well then at about half way to the turnaround it started raining. I survived the turnaround and it looked like we had a good gap over the team that started behind us. As we were going through Punalu’u, I was riding on the front and a silver truck pulled out right in front of us then proceeded to cruise along well below the speed limit and about 10mph slower than we were travelling. We slowed down, then the driver slowed down some more, so we went to go around the guy. Next thing, the driver speeds up a little, and I tried to gesture him to accelerate and get out of our way. He then decided to hit the brakes right in front of us almost causing a crash. Eventually he drove off, but the damage had been done… We must have lost at least 10sec, but probably more. We got back down to business and did what we could to the finish and crossed the line in 53:43 based on the officials watch. We were beaten by BOCA by 2 seconds.

Prior to starting the TTT my aerobars felt solid, but a mixture of road vibrations, wet weather, and my death grip resulted in the left extension rotating 45deg and the right one creeping forward almost coming out of the clamp holding it in place. Trying to wiggle / slide it back in while riding a track bike in the rain with 3 guys makes for some exciting and nerve-racking times. Fortunately I kept the extension in there until the finish.

Moral of the story? If you see a silver truck on O’ahu with the license place RGD 814, please feel free to do whatever you see fit. The driver really doesn’t give a shit about cyclists. I brought up the incident to a cop at the race but he didn’t seem to care either… Probably too much to expect him to write a report and follow up with the driver.