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 / Veloimages.com

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!