no one line


Bareknuckle Sprints
February 9, 2010, 2:03 pm
Filed under: accidents, crash, sprints, t-town, track bikes, track racing, velodromes

For your viewing pleasure, a compilation of out-and-out bareknuckle match sprints:

2000 World Championship Match Sprints, Gane versus Chiappa. No love lost between these two, apparently.

In the 1994 World Championship Match Sprint tournament the sprinter’s lane seems to be a mere suggestion. Semifinals: in Darryn Hill v Jens Fiedler, Fiedler forces Hill to the blue band so Hill forces Fiedler well out of the sprint lane. Coming up over that line that far is a special type of sharp elbows. Following that, in the same video, Nothstein employs the same tactic against Michael “The Big German” Hubner.

Maybe there was something particularly slippery about that track’s Turn Four. The finals of this tournament are here, part 1 and part 2; and to round out the tournament,¬†Hubner and Fiedler duke it out for the bronze.

There’s also the famous match between Gordon Singleton and Koichi Nakano from the 1982 World Championships: round 1, round 2, round 3.¬†Much nailbiting sprints can be found at this youtube channel: “See all 167 videos” … good luck getting anything done at work today.

In the realm of full body contact is the 2009 collision between countrymen Kevin Sirreau and Gregory Bauge: a recovery slick enough for trickster fixed gear videos.

Of course, any mention of bareknuckle sprinting would be incomplete without the famous ‘keirin carnage’ incident at the Trexlertown Velodrome, and among classic Keirin dumpfests is this football match. As a parting note – since I got on the subject of keirin – I can’t do it justice unless I link to this stunning performance by Theo Bos, who’s currently hacking it out as a road sprinter with a sullied reputation.

Have any more? Feel free to link for me and our readers in the comments.



Gender, The Pursuit, and the Olympic Track Program
November 24, 2009, 2:35 pm
Filed under: pro crap, the cycling world, track racing

Recent weeks have seen some fuss and outrage at the decision by the Union Cycliste Internationale and the International Olympic Committee to rearrange the Olympic track program for 2012.

A fine summation of the issue is here, in an open letter from John Wilcockson. The heart of it was the disparity of men’s and women’s events at the ’08 Olympics, which offered seven opportunities for men to medal, and three for women.

The rearrangement of the program for 2012, however, has attracted much grumbling, largely due to the elimination of the surprisingly fun-to-watch individual pursuit, an event that is young cycling phenom Taylor Phinney‘s bread-and-butter. Apparently suffering from a case of being-a-nineteen-year-old, Phinney has launched a Twitter campaign to save his event. Like his campaign, the mighty muscle of an internet petition also offers no support of addressing the gender disparity. It’s all about the pursuit, isn’t it, boys?

Wilcockson‘s article summarizes the proposed new program: the match sprint, team sprint, keirin, team pursuit, and the omnium. But the omnium includes a pursuit, along with a flying 200, a scratch race, a points race, and a kilo.

It doesn’t exactly take a sharp analytical mind to realize that the pursuit has not been removed from the Olympics – it just means that whiny specialists might have to suck it up and race a couple more races if they want to win a medal.

Wilcockson attributes the inclusion of the omnium to the nostalgia of an anachronism on the UCI Track Commission. Personally, as a fan of the sport (and participant, at its middling levels), I’m much more inclined to want to watch an omnium – to embrace the variables of mass-start races, to have to gauge the strengths of so-and-so in this event against the dominance of so-and-so in that event. It can be a much more exciting, dynamic, spectator-friendly group of events.

The pursuit, while it can have some delightful drama and tension drawn out over its kilometers, is really just two people racing in ovals.

I know which one I’d rather watch.

And considering the self-centeredness and immaturity displayed in the #SaveThePursuit campaign, which fails to sufficiently acknowledge the fact that the UCI and IOC are trying to do the right thing by equalizing medal opportunities for women and men, I’m inclined to hope it fails.



Trackshots
September 11, 2009, 1:44 pm
Filed under: Kissena, track bikes, track racing, velodromes

I took my camera to Kissena far more times than I actually used it to take some photographs this year, but since I was pulling some photos off my camera in order to add some flair to my previous post (Goodbye IRO), I figured I’d share a few that I snapped at some point this summer. May shots of a carefree summer evening to bring you warmth on a rainy September morning.

Here’s my oft-mentioned buddy-teammate Al messing with Dan C.’s bike. Dan wins the award for being the least sentimental about the nicest bikes. That’s the Nagasawa that he messengers on.

Gui setting up his bike. He and I are the same size, but somehow all of his bikes are much larger than mine. He rides 53-54cm bikes, and I ride 50-52cm bikes. His legs must have some extra hidden length – we both ride long but his saddles are a lot higher than mine. His Felt is a 54, mine is a 52.

I’ve ridden a bunch with Gui over the past year or so, and he’s given lots of good advice throughout my learning process.

Shooting the breeze with Gui and Kissena’s Delroy Walters, a 70+ World Champion and total track star who’s always around to offer a smile, kind words, and timely advice.



Head to Head with a National Champ?
September 8, 2009, 2:36 pm
Filed under: Kissena, Natty Champs, sprints, track racing


One of the things that JP said earlier in the year in his shoes as the club’s development director was, “You might be a sprinter with your friends but that’s a lot different than being a sprinter in a race.” The lesson is that you might have a sprint but in a race there’s bound to be somebody bigger and stronger who can apply that pure power better than you can. Most people’s best bet is to try to force a selection from which they can try to place, rather than to sprint against the whole field. The difference between a honest-to-goodness sprinter and someone who can occasionally sprint became obvious to me this weekend at the track, my first time out as a Cat 3. Unfortunately, only two other 1/2/3 riders had registered. One of them threw down the track’s fastest Kilo time at Opening Weekend in April and a few weeks ago at the State Championships. The other is a Master’s National Champion in the match sprint.

Oh well.

I had been hoping that a small field would be combined with others so that we could race some mass-start races, but it was only to be a handful of match sprints.

Oh well.

What played out “sprinting against” Andrew Lacorte reminded me of a scene from The Wire, when McNulty, roughly handled by bosses, and his partner Bunk are working their way toward getting belly-up at a bar. “You know why I respect you, Bunk? Because when it came time for you to screw me, you were very gentle.” Bunk – as drunk or drunker than McNulty – replies, “I knew it was your first time. I wanted it to be special.” Lacorte wouldn’t let me slip away when I hammered from the whistle, so we danced around a little bit, kept the pace high, and when I started sprinting, he just held me on his rear wheel, increasing the pace deftly. He didn’t ride away from me, which was either gentlemanly, or kid-glove treatment. Maybe both.

Later, in a 3-up sprint, I drilled it from the line as Colin tucked behind Lacorte, hoping that he would tire. Interested in an even playing field, I was trying to give Colin a fighting chance, which he had, though Lacorte held him off when they started sprinting in earnest (at this point, well ahead of me).

Afterward, Colin paid me a nice compliment. “When I was trying to come around him his arms were shaking. He looked tired at that point.” Lacorte, overhearing this, responded, “That’s a tactic.” Maybe, but leading your competition to believe that fatigue is not fatigue, but a tactic – that’s a tactic, too.

I made third place look easy yesterday, and besides, I got a chance to top off the tan line on my thighs.

And even though it was probably a stretch to say that I raced against Lacorte, it’s still pretty cool to go head-to-head against a National Champion.

Photos linked from Mike Mahesh’s blog.



Twilight Series Win
August 31, 2009, 9:07 pm
Filed under: Kissena, track racing

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I try to keep ‘race reports’ brief to avoid boring teammates, friends, and family members. I also try, by and large, to avoid making them the subject of this blog. I enjoy reading other people’s stories from their races, and I enjoy writing about races I’ve done, but it’s not my intended focus for this blog.

So you’ll have to forgive me for my last post, on last week’s scratch race out at the velodrome. It’s got a fairly high word:distance ratio, considering that the race was under two miles (if you’ve ever wanted just the meat and potatoes, as it were, of a bike race…).

But it was an important race: winning it made me win the evening’s omnium, which clinched my victory in the 2009 Twilight Series. I also won the remaining points I needed to upgrade to Cat 3 on the track.

I was nervous going into the night’s races, knowing that first place could either be won or lost. For the past month I’d raced knowing that winning was within my reach, as long as I didn’t give up too much ground to my nearest competitors. But instead of giving up ground, I looked at the schedule of races, said to my teammate Al, “I need to win this scratch race,” and I won the scratch race. And won the Twilight Series.

Like I said before – no victory salute when I crossed the line, but it feels pretty good.



8/27 Scratch Race
August 27, 2009, 2:06 pm
Filed under: Kissena, track racing

The Twilight Series is over. Long live the Twilight Series. I love having a night of track racing each week but by the end of the season it gets hard and exhausting. Add some internal pressure – I really wanted to win the scratch race. I really, really wanted to win the last omnium of the regular season. That Big John upgraded to a 3 made it a little easier, but there are some definite powerhouses. Giancarlo Bianchi of WS United is a particular racer to watch and to fear. In the second half of the season he’s done very well and makes the races very fast and very hard with some devastating attacks that usually wind up with him riding away from the field. To wit, the 8/12 feature race.

Some sleek, lean new rider I’d never seen before went off the front immediately, opened a quarter lap gap, and stayed there, and a lap later I was monitoring a concerted chase from three wheels back. When the rider was reeled in there was a bit of cat-and-mousing on the front, some accelerations, but I watched for Giancarlo’s counterattack, and when he stood up on the inside, slightly boxed in but coming out of it, I jumped right after him.

He goes fast. I’m sprinting at 90% after him and he’s holding it, flying. He looks back, sees me, accelerates, I stay on his wheel, barely, he holds up and he accelerates again, keeps trying to snap the whip as it were. The 11-rider pack is a long, thin line. He’s got one more acceleration but I won’t let him go. He’s trying to break me and everyone else but tonight I just don’t want to let him… but I’m so near the end of my rope just holding on to his wheel.

And all of a sudden, there’s one lap to go, Giancarlo’s attack is neutralized, and I’m three wheels back again, with the first breakaway first wheel, the guy who wouldn’t let go of my wheel when I was following Giancarlo, and me. It’s been hard, the pace is slow, and we’re rounding turn 2 going into the headwind on the backstretch and I jump at the 200 meter mark, come around lime green, sprint through the corner in a wide lane, Austin on my hip, and enter that mushy, slow-motion high-speed headspace that I go in a sprint. And I throw my bike and win the race by a half a wheel.

I kind of wanted to put my hands in the air or something but the times I’ve won a race out at Kissena, I’m not elated – I’m just relieved that it’s over and that I didn’t screw something up. Last night I didn’t screw it up – and this morning the elation comes.



Kissena riders at Masters National Champions!
August 21, 2009, 4:44 pm
Filed under: Kissena, Natty Champs, track racing

The news broke recently that regulars at our humble velodrome have represented well at the Master’s National Champships.

Andrew “Cupcake” LaCorte defended his stars and stripes in the Men’s 35-39 Sprint.

Christine D’Ercole won gold in the Women’s 35-39 Sprint.

And Alex Farioletti, who’s out in LA receiving intensive training as part of a Gatorade-sponsored reality TV show, took silver in the Men’s 30-35 Sprint; Dan Lim got 5th.

Big congrats to you three!



If, If, If
August 21, 2009, 4:05 pm
Filed under: t-town, track racing

On Saturday I raced at Trexlertown. Since I’m doing well at Kissena, I figured, maybe I’d do well at Trexlertown. Maybe really well.

Maybe I could have.

If I had the 51t chainring on during the points race… if I had moved up just a little bit earlier in the scratch race… if that junior hadn’t come down on me while I had the sprinter’s lane in the point-a-lap… if I had qualified for the feature…

If, if, if.

Maybe I just didn’t have it that day; maybe it just takes me a bit to adapt to a new kind of racing.

I was disappointed, but I’ll get over it.



Racing again
August 6, 2009, 8:20 pm
Filed under: no one line, road racing, track racing

Last night, I rode home from the track via an unusual route, to continue my conversation with a teammate. We turned down Metropolitan Ave and I reminisced about a race, three years ago, from Kissena to a bar after some track racing. I was riding my Pogliaghi, wickedly undergeared, flying in a pack down Metropolitan. At one point, I was dropped by the pack I was in, and eased up as I came to a large intersection, predicting that the light would change out of my favor. A rider tore by and yelled, “C’mon c’mon c’mon!” and we made the light, I recovered my motivation, and we caught back on. It’s a reminder that sometimes it’s small encouragements that make you find that last bit of strength.

This time, on Metropolitan, my teammate and I gripped our bars, gritted our teeth, and toughed out a mile or two of hellishly rough roads, torn up in prep for repaving. I tried to think of a pun combining tracks or velodromes and Paris-Roubaix, but came up short.

I blame those miles of asspounding on a stiff, aluminum track bike for the state of my backside today. That, and the humidity and the sweat and the chafing makes me wonder if some how, undected, a nemesis slipped sandpaper into my bibs.

Nonetheless I agreed to accompany Al to http://www.rockleighcrit.com“>Rockleigh<!–

a> tonight. In my easy weeks this past month, I’ve raced little, and felt a strong sprint tempered by difficult burning matches to get myself into position to use that sprint.

Call it coming off a peak, or needing rest. I’ll take it, gladly. But it’s time for it to end, so I’m re-filling my calendar with to-do races and looking forward a strong finish for the season.

As long as my backside cooperates.



Roadie? Trackie? Sore?
July 28, 2009, 5:28 pm
Filed under: Kissena, road racing, teamwork, track racing

Every activity has milestones for its participants. Rites of passage. In my racing season, I’ve ticked off a handful: going from pack fodder to being a contender; my first crash in a race; first mechanical that took me out of contention; and so forth.

This weekend I had one more: the first time a saddle sore made riding on my bike absolute and abject torture. It was the Cadence Cup and I couldn’t cancel, not while trying to defend my teammate’s green jersey. But there was this angry boil protruding from my nether regions, a nodule of fury and pain, growing worse by the minute to the point where I was pretty sure it was about to sprout fire-red eyes and a mouth, to spit profane invectives at me and the notion that I would innocently and without the expectation of pain straddle a saddle and attempt to ride.

Maybe that’s why, other than two leadout attempts and a sprint, I spent the race cowering at the back of the field, content to catch a snippet of conversation from a teammate to be assured that yes, our team was represented in the break. Good. I wouldn’t have to get up to bridge or chase. That might anger the sore.

It is with thanks to Gui that I can share a somewhat successful strategy for dealing with inflamed saddle sores. Dissolve plenty of epsom salts in very hot water, to which I also added a generous shake of Tea Tree oil. Soak a washcloth in this concoction, press against the offending infection, and do your best to avoid letting your very patient housemate overhear you yelling “Oh the humanity!” as the mean old lump withers and begins to leak blood and pus.

Battle waged, I had achieved enough victory to head out to the velodrome that afternoon for VeloCity, Cyclehawk/Squid’s excellent introduction to competitive track racing. Mike Mahesh has some video of track director and all-around All-Star John Campo talking about the event. Two years ago, VeloCity gave me the confidence to take those first tentative pedal strokes on the banking, and since I’m returning to the track after a frighteningly long midseason hiatus, I took the opportunity to race, brushing up some of my form for the ongoing Twilight Series. And John Prolly got a photo of me warming up.

It was a good day.