Tuesday, October 24, 2017

UCI Masters Track World Championships, VELO Sports Center, 10/9-13/2017

By Dennis Pedersen


I can't say that I ever envisioned myself competing in the World Championships of anything, much less cycling, even less track cycling. But this race is usually held in foreign countries, so when I heard Masters Track World Championships would be in Los Angeles this year I decided I was going to do it. I decided to skip Nationals this year, for several reasons, and to focus on LA Worlds instead. I think it's fair to say this race was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me.


My Coach, Jeff Solt, supported me in this, and my local successes motivated me. And I have been able to race and train at LA’s indoor 250-meter wooden track, the The StubHub VELO Sports Center in Carson, about a dozen times over the last few years, so I'm fairly comfortable on it.


Track rash from an August race
(not shown: hip hematoma).
But on my most recent visit there, in August, I had a problem with my tire choice, and ended up sliding down the 45° steep banking during a slow portion of my match sprints on that day. Tire grip becomes critical at low speeds, and my tire choice turned out to be less than optimum for that. So I still had a bit of a chip on my shoulder for this track when I came down for Worlds.


I'm happy to say that Margaret also accompanied me on my trip down, and made the whole experience more fun. She was also a great support to me, helping with all the little details and keeping me entertained and occupied. But since this week of racing was bookended by her birthday and our wedding anniversary, I had to sweeten the deal a bit and promised we'd have fun in between the racing, and a weekend at Disneyland afterwards. I had no problem with the thought of that in any case.


We drove down on Sunday, I checked into race registration, then our hotel, then got ready for a nice birthday dinner in Redondo Beach. It was quite nice and it took my mind off of the racing. I must admit I had butterflies and had a hard time not stressing out about the high level of competition and my own challenges. My sleep was never of a high quality on this trip.


This race is the only UCI I have ever entered, but was of course similar to USA Cycling Nationals in many ways, given that USAC is affiliated with the UCI. But the level of officials and organization was certainly higher and more bureaucratic. I also had to pay extra to get a USAC/UCI racing license. Masters race by age groups from 35 up, and I was in the 55-59 age group, representing the USA, one of at least 31 nationalities competing.

Monday: 500 meter Time Trials


My first race was on Monday: a standing-start timed race for just 500 m that emphasizes massive power… basically a drag race on a bike. I got to ride on the track for a 15-minute warmup during the 1:30-3:00pm break, and was still a bit nervous. But it went well and I knew tire grip wouldn't be an issue for the 500 m TT anyway.


I then sat around a lot, changed to my race wheels and gears (50x14, 96.4”), rested some more, and rode on my rollers to stay warmed up. Coach Jeff was always there to prompt my next task, and that helped a lot. He read the start lists to get an accurate sense of when I needed to be ready, which would be a bit after 5:00pm. He also reminded me that I needed to get my bike checked by the UCI officials just before my race… stuff that's easy to forget until it's too late and they slap fines on you, in Swiss francs!


As the time approached, Margaret helped me suit up, pinned on my number, brought me water… so supportive! A few minutes more on the rollers and then I waited on the chairs near the start gate for my turn. Jeff helped me get locked into the start gate, which is a complicated mechanism that holds your bike upright and releases you when the timer counts down.


Locked into the start gate for my 500 m TT
(video here, starting at 2:32).

As the timer counted down, a Brazilian rider getting off the track fell over just behind me, but I stayed focused and got a nice jump out of the gate. I powered through turn 1 and 2, just above the sponges along the edge. I sat down on the back straight, and tried to extract 100% from my legs while staying low.


Coach Jeff, contemplating my 9th place.
Invariably my legs started to fail, but I still held on and managed a nice time for me: 36.262 seconds, which is a tie with my previous PR from two years ago. I was quite happy with that, and my first-lap split of 20.523. While this put me in 2nd place, succeeding riders were seeded faster, and soon I watched my position drop, ending up in 9th place overall out of 34 riders. Two Aussies took 1st (34.491) and 2nd, a Brit 3rd. Best US rider was 4th (35.461).


To beat these guys would require cutting 1.8 seconds off my time, and even Bronze would have required 1.6. Afterwards I always feel like maybe somehow I could have done more. A lot of it's mental, but maybe not that much! Another point is that some of these guys, including the winner, used aerobars... but I am not convinced that's a major factor in this short race as there's a real trade-off.


Jeff ordered me onto the rollers again to cool down, and I chatted a bit with my teammates for the Friday team sprints. I also contemplated my approach to the Wednesday match sprints, especially the flying 200 meter qualifying time trials, where I'd need to get comfortable again with riding along the rail, two stories above the bottom of the track’s banking.

Wednesday: Match Sprints



After a rest day on Tuesday, my nerves returned on Wednesday morning. I was still not sure how I wanted to approach the flying 200 meter time trial that's used to qualify and seed the riders before the racing itself starts. I knew that no matter how well I did it would be difficult to qualify against 23 of the fastest riders from all over the world. Only the top 12 riders would advance into the match sprint finals. And I still didn't have confidence in my tires.

For the windup in a flying 200 m, the best approach is to use as little energy as possible getting up to speed. On this track, that's tricky because the steep banking also includes steep transitions from the straights into the turns. And it requires some effort to get up the transitions without losing speed.  So I discussed various options with Coach Jeff. But in the end I essentially agreed to follow a fairly conventional line during my windup. I also decided to use two of Jeff's wheels that he had glued new tires onto. The tires he mounted are a bit stickier than the ones on my race wheels, so I gained some confidence from that. That was awesome of him to do. We also decided to use 48x13 gearing (99.7”) as that's what I'd used here when I set my PR.


That morning, I got to the track soon after the 7:30 a.m. open track started, and managed to get in some additional time on the track. I also managed to ride at the top of the banking to rehearse my line for the 200 meter windup. I felt a little bit more comfortable, but I was still looking forward to getting it done. I had to wait for over an hour for the pursuit riders to finish their heats. During that time I also rode on my rollers a bit to stay warmed up. Jeff and Margaret again did an awesome job helping me out, bringing me water, pinning on my numbers, etc. It was great having them there.


UCI bike-check jig (and
start gate in the background).
When the time came, Jeff took my bike to the UCI check-in, and I followed him there to wait for my name to be called up. I sat there and focused, breathed deeply, and was looking forward to the actual run, because I knew I would be calmer then. And sure enough, when they called my name Jeff and I went up to the apron, and waiting in line for my start I felt pretty good. At this point we are strapped into the bikes and are held up.


When my heat, 7 of 17, was called up, Jeff pushed me up to the rail and then I was on my own. I had to get my bike up to speed fairly soon, as this put me into the turn 3 transition at a low speed. Since speedometers aren't allowed, I had to go by feel to make sure my speed didn't drop too low and my tires slide out.


I then tried to gradually move up-track and with 1.5 laps to go I was on the rail and going fast. Coming out of turn 4, I stood up to give it that last hard kick, but I knew then my windup had been too fast, as my legs didn't have any snap left. I sat down and entered turn 1 at whatever speed I could manage at the 200 m start line. My run felt fairly good otherwise, and I ended up with a 12.254. That's not bad for me, but not even as good as my most recent 200 m at this track, a 12.12. I was disappointed, but I was second-fastest so far and was still hoping I could qualify, as there were 21 guys who could still be slower than me.


But it was not to be. As succeeding riders clocked their times, I gradually moved down from 2nd fastest, ending up in 14th place. Sigh, so my racing was done for that day.


The fastest rider, an Aussie, rode an amazing 11.146 seconds... if I had qualified, I would likely have been matched against that fastest rider. While I sometimes suffer from self-doubts, I race better than I qualify and who knows if I could have somehow won on my tactics. Coach Jeff always tells me to believe in myself.


We quietly packed up, and planned for the next race. What else can one do? Well, I cheered myself and Margaret up by driving the short distance to Disneyland and having a little fun there. That was therapeutic.


And then on Thursday, I noticed a slight scratchiness in my throat. Yes, it seems I was coming down with a mild cold. I stayed in the hotel room as much as possible while Margaret and a friend went to Universal Studios, but I still had to go back for a an open track session to prepare for Friday. I didn't worry too much though, as I was pretty sure the sore throat wouldn't affect how my legs performed in the short team sprint.

Friday: Team Sprints



Ever since my win at the USAC National Championships last fall, I was pretty sure my best chance at a good finish at Worlds would be in the team sprint. Unfortunately our team from last year couldn't be reassembled for various reasons, so I ended up with a new team. Fortunately, both of my teammates were very strong riders with proven records. George Miranda, who raced with me at Districts, and Andy Dobson of Virginia, who came highly recommended. On Monday, I watched Andy record a nice 20.7-second first lap in his 500 m TT, And as for me and George, I knew what we were capable of, so I felt great about our chances against the 11 teams in our 55-64 age group (team events are grouped in 10-year age increments).



On Friday morning I felt confident and my legs felt good (in spite of the slightly sore throat). But of course, there were some butterflies in my stomach as I prepared for the racing. Just as on previous days, Jeff and Margaret were there to help me get ready and keep me calm and focused. I did some warm up on the track, and maintained that on my rollers on the infield. They got my number pinned on, and had my bike checked in with the UCI officials again.


As Andy, George and I waited in the chairs near our start line on the back straight, we all fist-bumped each other and smiled. Even though we weren't the favorites, we all felt good about our chances of at least qualifying for the finals; we needed to be 4th place or better to qualify for the finals.


When we got called up, there was a slight delay as we waited for somebody's rerun from a false start. But I think we all stayed focused. Jeff helped me get strapped into the bike and pushed me up onto the track when it was our turn. As man 2, it was my job to follow Andy who was our man 1 and was placed in the sprinters lane at the bottom of the track’s banking. George, as man 3, was above me further up the banking. In team sprint only man 3’s time counts. So it was Andy’s and my job to lead George out to ensure he got a fast final time.


Andy, as man 1, was clamped into the starting gate while George and I were held up by officials. Because they don't want us to have any advantage in the start, we aren't allowed to use our coaches to hold us.


The countdown timer started its beeps, and we started to focus and breathe deeply. I felt very little pressure or tension, and looked forward to the race. When the timer hit zero, we jumped forward. And I looked to my left to make sure I could drop promptly into Andy’s draft. But I soon realized that was not working correctly. George and I were both moving along smartly up-track, while Andy was lagging behind us a bit. Oh no, the start is so critical, and we were losing time. George and I both had to soft-pedal to allow Andy to gain ground on us, after which I was able to drop down into his draft in the sprinter's lane. But we had already lost a lot of time, and we weren't getting up to speed like usual. (See video here, and here.)


Andy put in his best effort but started to fade a bit, and at the exchange (the point where he is done and pulls off) I might even have hesitated slightly to take advantage of the new rules in which we are allowed to drop below the guy ahead of us during the exchange. Even so, I had plenty of energy to accelerate under Andy and try to make up some of the lost time. It's hard to say if I put in 100%, but I like to think that I tried at least, and that we were able to regain some of that lost time. I also tried to make sure that when I when I came around to finish my lap, that George was able to get maximum benefit of my draft. The way to do that is to just gradually move up-track just above the red line that marks the right edge of the sprinter's lane, and stay there as long as possible while George accelerates below me.


George impressed me with his lap 3. Out of all of us, I think he did the best job of trying to salvage our run. Even so, with Andy’s lap 1 of 21.892 seconds, my lap 2 of 15.550 seconds, and George's lap 3 of 15.964 seconds, our combined time of 53.406 seconds was not good enough to qualify. We finished 6th out of the 11 teams and needed to be 1.6 seconds faster to qualify. And I know we were capable of at least that much. I was bummed.


Andy explained that he had been nervous about his start as he wasn't used to the mechanical starting gate (this was only his third time). He didn't want to start too early which itself causes big problems. It is tricky to get it just right, I know that from experience.


To win we’d have needed to be 4 seconds faster! Yeah, a win was highly unlikely, but we didn't come there to not qualify. At the same time, though, I felt I did a good job of doing my part for the team and could go home feeling proud of our effort.


The End



So that was the end of my racing at the Masters Track World Championships. Part of me was relieved, part of me wished I could go back and redo some of the things I had done, part of me just wanted to go to Disneyland and celebrate the end of my season, which is what Margaret and I did.


The end of the season always brings to our minds a retrospective view of this season, and a consideration of our next season. How did we do? What are our next plans?


For me, this season was not a given. Because of the health issues I had early in the year, and a number of colds during my training, plus a two-week vacation in July, it was entirely possible that my season could have been a complete dud. Instead, my results at our NCNCA District Championship were an unexpected and awesome bonus. That my results at Worlds were less impressive was less of an issue for me, though still quite disappointing. I had always had realistic expectations for Worlds, while at the same time always believing in myself and my ability to rise to the occasion. I guess we need that when we are at high-level competitions, don't we?


So what are my plans for next year? Even I don't really know. On one hand I could probably back off a little bit and still do well at Districts, on the other hand I could probably redouble my efforts in training and equipment to improve enough to also get good results at Worlds. I haven't decided. There is a completely separate world out there that has nothing to do with cycling, and maybe I need to spend more time in that world. We shall see. For now, I've decided to continue my efforts in weight training over the winter.

Thanks for all of your support! I could not have done this without all of the people out there who have made this possible for me.



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Masters NCNCA District (State) Track Championships, 9/9-10/2017

By Dennis Pedersen


This year I had a number of setbacks that delayed or interrupted my training, and I had elected not to participate in Nationals this year as a result. So I was skeptical I’d be able to do as well at our NCNCA District Championship track races as I did last year. But, as always, I try to race my best and did my best to prepare, with advice from Coach Jeff Solt.


Saturday, Match Sprints



I only entered one race on Saturday; the match sprints (read track race type descriptions here). These short two-man, two-lap races are explosive, exciting and very tactical. Last year at Districts I narrowly beat out Brian Moore, who ended up with Silver at Nationals. This year there were seven riders entered. The weather was clear, and it got up to 86 degrees.


Me and my Dixie Flyer
Like usual, we started the match sprint tournament with a flying 200-meter time trial. One at a time we try to cover 200 m as fast as possible, and the times are used to “seed” the riders. I could only manage a 12.35-second run (at 38.0 mph max, with my 96” gearing), putting me in 3rd seed, with Bill Nighan 4th just 0.01 behind me! George Miranda was 1st (12.01), and Brian was 2nd (12.02). I was disappointed, but I never give up, as I know that these results are merely the opening shots of the battle and much can change during the individual matches.


Quarter Finals:



As the 3rd seed, I was matched against 6th-seed Jeff Vanderwerf, a former racer returning from the real world. Bill raced 5th-seed Randy Armstrong, while both George and Brian got “byes” (meaning they didn’t have to race that heat) because the 7th-seed rider elected not to race, and they needed an even number of matches for the elimination rounds of the tournament.


I drew a “1” from the official, Matt Martinez, which meant Jeff V got to choose where to start from. He elected to start as #2 at the top of the track while I started to his left, lower on the banking, with my Coach, Jeff, holding me. We both varied our speed a bit, swerved a bit, but for the most part it came down to Jeff V trying to pass me out of turn 4 just before the last lap, while I held him off using as little energy as possible so I could save some for the next rounds. I hit 35.6 mph max and took the win to advance to the next round.


Semi-Finals:



I was next matched against George who now raced his first match, against me, because of the “bye” I mentioned above which he earned because of his faster 200 m qualifying time.


George drew the lead and rode slowly in the pole (sprinter's lane) at the bottom of the banking while Coach Jeff delayed releasing me in order to allow me to have a gap between us. So I rode slowly behind him at the very top to maintain the advantage of altitude. I had allowed the gap to open a bit, and he soon went fairly fast so I had to drop into his draft to avoid wasting more energy at the top, but was easily able to close the gap by dropping down the banking. He gave another acceleration out of turn 4, I allowed a small gap to open, but in turn 2 he hesitated and moved slightly up track. After a brief hesitation of my own, I quickly accelerated into the gap, over him, and held him off, barely, to win by half a wheel, hitting 36.5 mph. I think I probably could have raced slightly smarter, but it was enough for me to advance to the final heat, for the Gold round!


As I cooled down in the infield, I watched Brian and Bill race… much to everyone’s surprise, Bill managed to outfox Brian and take the win, meaning I'd be racing Bill for Gold.


Finals:



So the 3rd and 4th seed had beaten the 1st and 2nd seed! George and Brian would fight for Bronze, while Bill and I fought for Gold. A bit of an upset. The finals were decided by best two out of three heats.


Heat 1:



Bill lead the start, and Coach Jeff held me back again like before. Like George, Bill went slow, but in turn 2 he noticed I’d let the gap grow too big, so he started to accelerate harder. I had to drop down into the sprinters lane and take a dig to make sure he didn’t escape. When he saw I was drafting him he turned hard up in turn 3, I think to force me to lead him out. But I squeezed over him, to his right, just as he looked left. But he continued to move up-track, and we ended up bumping each other, and my right leg and pedal scraped the rail. We kind of looked at each other, he asked if I was OK, and I promptly attacked out of turn 4, and won by a big margin, hitting 37.3 mph max.


Heat 2:



For the second heat, we switched start positions, and I lead Bill. I went slow again, but in the pole, while Bill stayed up-track a bit behind me (but maybe too close). After a few feints, I was able to keep his gap small, but without slowing so much that he could pass over me. Out of turn 4 I went fairly hard, while looking back at him, and managed to out-sprint him out of turn 2, hitting 37.4 mph max, and won by a bike length for my second win against Bill, so no need for a third heat... Gold!

In the meantime, George beat Brian in the Bronze heats. So the final podium was perhaps not what anybody would have predicted.

The 55-59 match sprint podium:
Bill, me, George.


Sunday, Timed Events



It was hotter, up to 94 degrees, but I would be spending less time on the track for these short, explosive, individually timed races. As a special bonus, my wife stopped by to cheer me on!


500 m ITT



This race is solo, from a standing start. We had a relatively packed 55-59 field: 9 riders. That doesn’t sound like much, but it included world-class riders like Kevin Metcalfe, Larry Nolan and Don Langley, as well as the guys I usually compete with. I was of course worried about them all, as these short, intense drag races require extreme focus and it’s easy to let distractions and such prevent you from going all-out.


Strapping in for a standing start.
At the start line, as I was held up, tightly strapped into my bike’s pedals, I tried hard to focus and channel my power. My start was perhaps slightly tentative, but I powered pretty well after that and kept my bike as low on the track as I could, almost hitting some of the sponges in the turns. But at the finish, I could tell my legs were pretty well fried, and my line a bit wobbly. In the end, I managed only a 37.23-second run, at 36.2 mph max. That was disappointing, as my best is a full second faster. That's a big difference. Still, it was enough to gain me another Gold, by just 0.01 over George Miranda! while Don Langley took third at 37.39. Whew, tight racing!


Team Sprint



George, me, and Ray, waiting for our team sprint.
For the 55-64 age group Team Sprint I'd been talking with Ray Gildea, George, Brian and a few others, partly for Districts and partly with an eye toward forming a team for Masters World Championships in October. But in the end it was down to Ray, me, and George. We were the only team in our age group, but we wanted to use this as training for Worlds. Our run actually ended up being pretty good, and we got smoothly up to speed without any big gaps, maintained it, and even had some very nice exchanges using the latest rules from UCI. It was pretty cool! While we were slower than my team from last year (1:11.82 vs. 1:10.96), our time was the fastest of any of the teams that day in any age group. That was also pretty cool. And another Gold. Let's hope we can do better at Worlds; we will likely improve, as we did at Nationals last year.



So, the weekend was a surprising success for me, and great prep for Worlds. My next racing will be at Masters World Championships in October, to be held in the beautiful indoor wood track in Carson, just north of Los Angeles. A stretch goal for sure.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Masters Track National Championships Make-up, 11/20/2016

By Dennis Pedersen

If you read my Track National Championships race report from August, you'll know that one of the three races I registered for in Indianapolis, team sprint with my Masters teammates Ray Gildea and Brian Moore, my top race priority for 2016, was cancelled due to rain. We were told by the organizers that they would try to create a "make-up" event for the canceled races. I didn't like that I'd have to travel once again for a single very short race, but we'd had a really good chance at winning in Indianapolis. Ray and Brian are already National Champions, so I'd have hated even more to miss out on the chance at my first National Championship. After a few weeks we were told the tentative make-up event was on!

In team sprint (also known as Olympic sprint), the three of us line up next to each other on the start line, seated and fully strapped into our pedals, for a standing start. On the whistle we ride all-out, with Ray leading us out for one lap before he pulls off, his job done. Brian continues racing, with me following, for another lap before he, too, pulls off. I'm then alone, to finish the last lap and stop the timer. The blend of teamwork, timing and personal contribution is exhilarating!

Dennis Pedersen at 7-11 Velodrome, Colorado Springs.
7-11 Velodrome, with dome
I worked with my coach, Jeff Solt, for the 3 months this event added to my season, and awaited the final word. But when I got the details, it was set in the 7-11 Velodrome in Colorado Springs... not the beautiful indoor wood velodrome in Carson (near Los Angeles), within easy driving distance that I'd hoped for. This meant that I had to get a bicycle case from Spokesman Bicycles again, and deal with shipping.

The 7-11 Velodrome is very similar to the Major Taylor Velodrome in Indianapolis; a 333.3-meter banked concrete oval, but with steeper 33° banking. The velodrome is outdoors, but last year they added a removable dome that can be erected during the winter months. The heavy vinyl dome material has a partial greenhouse effect, which keeps it moderate even in the winter, but allows noise from outside traffic in, while also echoing from the considerable inside noise, augmented by the airflow needed to keep the flexible dome fully inflated. A bit distracting. The dome also blocks the grandstands so the track is not spectator-friendly in the winter. But it wasn't hard to adapt to, except for the noise, and the concrete surface is quite smooth. And the thin air at 6,035' reduces aerodynamic drag, too, for fast racing.

The 7-11 Velodrome is also associated with the nearby U.S. Olympic Training Center. One benefit of this was that the officials didn't need to travel, and the Athlete Center's dorms were available to us. Ray and Brian stayed there, while I elected to stay with our friend Ken Lo in a dingy motel nearby, with their coach, Lee Povey, and Mark Andersen as neighbors.

I flew out on Friday afternoon, thus missing the snowstorm that hit the Denver area the night before. I enjoyed the snow on the ground during my drive down to Colorado Springs, in the rush-hour traffic. I met up with the gang and had a nice dinner, followed by the first time I ever had ice cream in sub-freezing temperatures!

Kenneth Lo at Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs.
Ken, at the Olympic Training Center.
On Saturday we had a nice breakfast, and Ken helped me locate my bike which turned out to be stored in the Peter Ueberroth building's mail room, in the Olympic Training Center. I then assembled it in our motel room, drove it over to the velodrome, to prep for my Sunday race. I did some warmup, followed by two rolling starts followed by a flying effort to test the banked turns. This session was marred by somebody who went down during their training... later I heard it was our friend Beverly Chaney with a broken collarbone, the poor thing! She had been practicing team pursuit exchanges with Molly Shaffer Van Houweling (who held the UCI Women's World Hour Record until earlier this year!) and accidentally clipped her rear wheel. Another nice dinner followed, minus Lee, who was driving Bev around to "chemists" ("pharmacies," in his Queen's English).

Dennis Pedersen at 7-11 Velodrome, Colorado Springs.
Inside the dome, warming up on the infield track.

On Sunday I had a leisurely breakfast, and then drove with Ken to the velodrome to get ready for my race. Ray was there, and Brian with his super-supportive wife Patti (née Cashman, a former Pro cyclist and coach). I did about 20 minutes in my warmup gear. I felt good, switched into my race gear (48x13 teeth, 100 gear-inches), and got to do two held standing starts with Ray and Brian. I felt great, and sat down to relax and focus. Then Mark suddenly appeared with his Mavic Comète Track front disk wheel, worth almost as much as my whole bike, and told me to use it... cool!

There were only 5 teams signed up, including at least one other very fast team, and we were the fourth to start. I watched the other teams a bit, but mostly focused and relaxed. When our 55+ team was called to the ready area I sat down with Ray and Brian. Then we strapped into our pedals and Lee and Mark rolled Brian and me up to the officials who held us up on our bikes at the start line, while Ray, as our man #1, had his bike clamped into their mechanical starting gate.

They started the audible countdown as we breathed deeply and set up for the all-out standing start. 5, 4, 3, 2 (sit up), 1 (move back), and go! And, stop! Brian had false-started, and we circled around for our re-start. I was fairly unfazed, but of course a bit tense, as we rolled up to the start line again.

Ray Gildea, Brian Moore, Dennis Pedersen team sprint. Photo by Bev Chaney.
Our start, into turn 1.
Ray in the pole, Brian, me at the top.
(Photo by Bev Chaney)
Another countdown, and go! Even in my 100" gearing I was able to match Ray's explosive start, and as we exited turn 2 we were nicely strung out in a tight line. Ray's tall 98" gear made his lap 1 smoother than usual, and Brian, in 100" gear like me, was able to accelerate into lap 2, with me modulating my effort to stay right behind his rear wheel to get the maximum benefit of his draft. Mark's front disk wheel felt just fine, and I prepared for Brian to pull off at the end of his lap. He swung uptrack smoothly in the exchange section, marked by cones. I buried my head and focused on pedaling hard by myself, legs and lungs burning, until I passed the finish line. At that point I had no idea what our time was, but as I cooled down I heard on the PA that we had won the National Championship, my first! That was empowering, and it was so cool to receive the congratulations from my friends and competitors. Larry Nolan also congratulated me, though his Nationals count is more like 52!

Ray Gildea, Brian Moore, Dennis Pedersen team sprint. Photo by Tom Kimmel.
At speed on lap 1, in turns 3 and 4. Ray #1, Brian #2, me #3.
(Photo by Tom Kimmel)



While we knew we had a strong team, it's never a guarantee; we still had to deliver the performance. When I saw the official results I found that our time of 1:07.477 seconds improved by about 3.5 seconds over our winning time at Hellyer, in July! And we'd beaten the strong 2nd-place team by over a half second. My 21.543-second lap 3, while my PR by 1.757 seconds, wasn't the fastest there, so I know I will need to improve. There's no end to training for sports, huh? But that's what keeps me motivated.

Ray Gildea, Brian Moore, Dennis Pedersen team sprint. Photo by Tom Kimmel.
Ray, Brian and me, celebrating!
(Photo by Tom Kimmel)

I had enough time to take a quick shower at the motel before returning to the track. The podium was fun, and we took a bunch of photos. We received Voler jerseys in the US Champion colors, special National Champion RoadID bracelets, and our gold medals.

Ray Gildea, Brian Moore, Dennis Pedersen team sprint podium.
55+ team sprint podium.
Dennis Pedersen in team sprint National Champion's jersey.
Wheeeeee! My first National Champion's jersey!
Now I get to add stars and stripes to all of my jerseys!

After the competition I wished I could have just partied, but I had to disassemble my bike and pack it up for shipping home. Back to the motel, disassembling the bike, and driving the case to FedEx was a bit tiring, but I didn't mind; I was in a great mood. Then I went to the Olympic Training Center's dorms to visit Ray and help pack up Bev's bike. We also got to eat dinner at the Athlete Center's cafeteria, which has a pretty good buffet. I felt so cool, mingling with real Olympians!

Jim Turner in the  U.S. Olympic Training Center's Athlete Center's cafeteria.
Jim Turner in the
Athlete Center's cafeteria.
 Jim Turner, Ray Gildea and Dennis Pedersen watching video of the team sprints, in their dorm room in the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
Jim, Ray and I watching video of the
team sprints, in their dorm room.

On Monday morning I picked up Bev at her dorm and drove to Denver. Everything went smoothly and I finally got to toast my win with a beer over steak and eggs in the airport!

I am still deciding on my racing priorities for next year, though the UCI Masters World Championships in Los Angeles will likely be a highlight. Another goal might be to win another Nationals, but in an individual event. But for now it will be nice to have a long-delayed off-season.

Thank you, to the many people who made this possible!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Masters 60 - 64 District Road Race 2016 / San Ardo



I have neglected my race reporting this year. In part, that’s because I haven’t raced so much, and in part it’s due to a lack of results. I have also been working at readjusting my attitude towards racing and cycling in general. All that said, this time I am motivated to write a race report. I learned something about me, and I learned something about bike racing.

Saturday was the NCNCA Masters District road race, and it is my first year in the 60 – 64 year old age group. I was looking forward to racing with teammates, Jim Langley and Mike Andalora, but I was also nervous about my ability to hang with the group. I have carried more weight this year (by far), and it was certainly one of the contributing factors to my getting dropped at nationals. There were a couple of other factors at nationals, not least of which was that I had not adequately trained my high end fitness, but also that I lost some of my focus during that race and had to work too hard to regain my position with the peleton. I was also on a new bike and riding position that I was still acclimating to. Saturday, I was still very big, but I had worked hard at training my high end fitness, I was really comfortable on my new machine, and I was seeing really high power numbers in my interval work leading up to the race. Plus, I raced at Dunnigan the week before, and that gave me a refresher on what not to do (I attacked the younger and stronger field early on in that race and blew myself up). Finally, I had rested the whole week prior to this race, doing only a couple of recovery rides. I was feeling very fresh, and quite rested.

Our race had 20 guys signed up, with the class of the field being last year’s national road champion, Steve Archer. I have raced against Archer a number of times, and he is always a true gentleman and a very good sport. A few years ago at San Ardo, he flatted on the second lap of our two lap race. He had a teammate who pulled over and gave him his rear wheel. Archer chased back onto the group and won the race. Afterwards, he came around and thanked us for waiting. I responded that I certainly hadn’t waited, but that I couldn’t get any help from the group in working to leave him behind. Two years ago, San Ardo was the district race and both Archer and I were still in the 55- 59 group that has a 3 lap race. Many in that peleton were tired by the 3rd lap. Archer launched a viscious attack that only Mike Vetterli was able to bridge up to. Archer won that race, Vetterli took 2nd and Larry Nolan took the field sprint somewhat after. I am admittedly not the gentleman that Steve is, as I enjoy colorful language within the peleton. I gain satisfaction in animating the races I enter, but I never intend to treat any competitor, official or spectator in anything less than a respectful manner. That said, I do not view colorful (read “profane” here) language as anything other than a means of expressing great drama and joy. I do so freely during races, and rides. Saturday after the race, teammate Jim Langley wondered if I couldn’t save some much needed energy by not talking. I can’t imagine that, but even if I do spend a few calories in the course of a couple of hours, I would not trade the joy of life that it gives me. My hope is that it is not found to be offensive by those with the great good fortune to be riding with me.

Other notables in our field included Paul Gossi who won this year’s district TT, and I also remembered from a Copperopolis road race a few years ago. He had been the only guy in our large and talented field who was able to stay with former world champion, Robert Anderson. Anderson and Gossi had gone 1 / 2 that day. We also had Mark Perry and Tim Davis in our field. I don’t know either of them, but I see their names often towards the top of the 55 races. From Santa Cruz, I know my teammate, Jim Langley is a very strong and talented racer. Also, from Watsonville, Chris Cerruti was entered, and I ride with him enough to know I probably couldn’t beat him. My other teammate, Mike Andalora, has been riding strong and I knew if he had a good day that he would be right in the mix. Then there were a few guys that I didn’t know anything about, including 1 guy from out of our district, and a few who I have raced with in the past but don’t really know. I ran into Chris Cerruti talking to Archer before the race, and Archer thought Gossi would try to get away, but he mostly was interested in not going to the line with Tim Davis. In his opinion, Davis had been on fire and would be very hard to beat in a sprint.

Then there was the course. San Ardo is not a climber’s course, but rather is a power course. It is not completely flat, but there are no steep, long grades, and the main issues are the nasty road condition and some wind. Each lap there is a climb at the beginning, but it typically doesn’t create huge breaks in the field. Still, it was that climb that was the cause of my nervousness. With my weight, it was possible that a really hard attack could gap me and end my race very early. The same possibility would be there for me on the second lap, and again at the finish. Beyond that, I was pretty sure that my fitness would keep me in with the group at the least. I also hoped to, at least, give myself a chance at finishing better than my usual , mid pack. I also was hopeful of being some use to my teammate, Langley, as well as possibly my friend Cerruti.

To warm up, I rolled around with the boys for about 45 minutes. We checked out the finish, and it had been shortened from its previous spot by maybe 100 – 125 yards. That left a flat sprint of 100 – 125 yards after climbing up to a left hander. I pretty much knew it was not my kind of finish, so my plan was to get away early if I could. And then we lined up for the start.

When I did this race 2 years ago as a 3 lap race, they didn’t hit the first time up the climb as hard as the second two times. I was unsure what would happen in this 2 lap race. We started up and the favorites were all sitting towards the front. I did as much work as I needed to in order to stay on the wheels at the front. Another racer and I commented to each other how glad we were that the pace was very sedate. Still, after we got over the top, or not long afterwards, Paul Gossi and Archer’s teammate were off the front. Even so, the group wasn’t showing much interest, and it soon became clear that Archer was going to have to set the pace. He didn’t chase, but he also didn’t let them extend their gap, at least not by much. This also led to the whole first lap of our race being uneventful and not very hard. As we rolled back into town at the end of lap one, Archer’s teammate came back to the group, leaving Gossi ahead on his own.

As we climbed up past the feed zone to begin the second lap, I was again surprised by how easy the pace was. Still, I moved up in the group towards the front. Archer had gone to the front, and I knew he wouldn’t simply float over the only place on the course that could be considered a hill. Sure enough, as soon as the road tilted up again, having passed the finishing line turn, he jumped hard. I called out, “There he goes!”, and spun my cranks all out. I was far enough forward, had enough power, and the distance to the top was short enough that I made it with the front selection. Unfortunately, our teammate Mike hadn’t made the front group along with several others. The lead group was down to 10, with Gossi still a little off the front.

Archer stayed on the front and began to chase down Gossi in earnest. I was a little surprise when my remaining teammate, Langley, went to the front and began to work as well. I rode past him and told him to sit in. If he felt that we needed to help in the chase, it was my job. He was to rest and sit in. Besides, I could see that Gossi was starting to wither from being off the front for so long, and I suspected that we could pull him in at will. Not long after, he was back with the group. I stayed towards the front, watching for Archer to make a move and trying to do any needed work so Jim could sit in.

I think this race was the first that I have understood the term, “negative racing”, that I’ve heard more experienced racers use. I haven’t really understood it in the past because, as I now understand it, negative racing is the definition of how the 45 4/5 category races. In short, everyone in the 4/5 races will choose to simply sit in for the whole race, waiting only to contest the sprint. In my opinion, this is not only boring, but can tend to be unsafe and is a waste of my time. Perhaps I am biased because I know that I am not particularly a sprinter, but regardless, I want to be in races that are challenging the whole way. In this race, the negative racing occurred because Archer was the prohibitive favorite. We all knew he was supposed to win. Thus, everyone in our race was happy to sit in and allow him to dictate the race, in hopes that he would make a mistake or have a mechanical. That is, of course, not an entirely fair appraisal on my part. Gossi had gone off the front, and Tim Davis had attacked a few times. Somehow, those efforts had seemed only feints to me, and Archer was left at the front to set the pace. And so we rolled along.

About 10 miles from the finish, the course turns into a tailwind leg that dips down before cresting a bump and then going flat back into town. As we made the right hander into the tailwind leg, I came around Archer, just because of our weight difference, and rolled off the front of the group. It was unintentional, but as I looked back, I saw that I was starting to get a pretty good gap. I decided to go ahead and push my advantage and use it to make sure I got up the bump with the group. A couple of guys came by me pretty hard over the top, but I was able to chase back on to the group. About that time, Jim rolled up and said, “If you are feeling good, now would be a good time to go!”. I just looked at him and smiled, and launched.

Breaking away is not hard for me, particularly in the flats. I knew I was the strongest guy left in our field, with the possible exception of Archer. Weight is where others get the advantage on me, but that is much less of a factor in the flats. If you don’t catch my wheel as I make my jump, most riders will not have the power to match me. In this case, I think I had a 75 – 100 yard gap when I looked back. From there, I tried my best to settle into a steady hard pace. As I mentioned, breaking away is not that hard. Staying away is. I had expected that Archer would bridge back up to me. I was less than thrilled that he brought the rest of the group with him. I jumped again, but they were on me directly. He was not wanting to chase down a large gap again.

I was pretty sure my day was done. I knew that I would be at a disadvantage when we had to climb up to the finishing turn. However, my teammate, Jim, and my friend, Chris, were still in the group. At the least, I could dish out some punishment to the rest of the group while they sat in. I sat at the front and continued to go as hard as I could, as often as I could. It was odd to me that during my recovery periods, not a single person came around me to take a pull. I think that for the last ~8 miles of the race, I was on the front the whole way. I hoped my efforts would be of some use to Jim and Chris. In the meantime, a couple of chasing riders, including Archer’s teammate, got back on to our group. I think we were 12 going back through town to the finish. I continued in the lead.

As we rolled through town, our turns shifted the wind from tail to crossing from our right. As we began the climb up past the feed zone, I moved to the left hand side of the road and got out of the saddle. I had nothing left to climb with. My legs just felt like jello. As I knew they would, the whole group came by me en masse, with a smaller group beginning to gap those towards the rear. I was gapped by all but continued to turn my pedals as hard as I was able. The only guy I caught going to the finish was Archer’s teammate, and I think that was because he didn’t care. I finished 11th, but 10th in the district, because one finisher ahead of me was from out of the area. My friend, Chris, finished on the podium in 5th, and Jim took 8th!

This was the most fun I have had in a race in a long time. It didn’t matter that I didn’t place too high. I helped Jim and Chris, and I was the animator in the last part of the race. I wish I could have helped Mike to stay with the group, but I think when he came off the group, I was going all out. Bike racing continues to be a tough sport!

Paul Gossi 4th, Tim Davis 2nd, Steve Archer 1st, Mark Perry 3rd, Chris Cerruti 5th

Monday, August 15, 2016

Masters Track National Championships, 8/9-8/14/2016

By Dennis Pedersen

USA Cycling's Track National Championships were held at the Indy Cycloplex's Major Taylor Velodrome in Indianapolis this year, named after the amazing African-American World Champion track cyclist (I read a good book about Major Taylor). This was the first Masters National Championships I've entered, so I was a bit nervous about it. But with my results at our District (State) Championships, I knew my form justified the plans I had already made to race at Nationals.

Who needs an SUV!
I'd never travelled by airplane to race before, so there were a ton of details that I don't usually have to deal with. Getting my bike, two wheelsets, helmets and tools to Indy was a bit stressful. Wade and Marin at Spokesman Bicycles were kind enough to provide me a Tri All 3 Sports case, which had plenty of room for my bike and two wheelsets after I removed the crank (I could have removed the saddle instead), the bars and the wheels. I used BikeFlights.com to ship via FedEx, which saves a bunch of money.

My team sprint teammate Ray Gildea, and Ken Lo and I rented an Airbnb cottage a few miles from the track. It was a bit of a frat house and a lot of fun. Ray also rented a U-Haul van instead of a rental car, so moving the bikes around would be a snap.

Nice track, humid weather
We arrived in Indianapolis on Sunday evening, and took an Uber to our cottage. The next morning our other TS teammate, Brian Moore, gave us a ride to U-Haul. We collected Ray and Ken's bikes from FedEx, and they got to work assembling them. I had mine shipped to Marian University which operates the track, and they even had those bikes delivered to the track for us. Very cool.

This track honors an
amazing black cyclist:
Major Taylor 
When we got to the velodrome on Monday we started by building a tent village in the infield, nick-named "Hellyerville." We had all chipped in some money, and Bess Hernandez-Jones bought awnings and chairs for our NCNCA riders... that was so awesome! I can't imagine trying to do all this as an unattached rider. After signing in, I assembled my bike under our awnings and we all got some track time on Monday afternoon.

The Major Taylor concrete outdoor velodrome is very similar to Hellyer's, but precisely 333.3 meters around vs. Hellyer's unintended miss at 335 m. The banking is 28° vs. 23°, and Major Taylor's straights are a bit shorter, with wider turns. The result is surprisingly different, with the transitions from the straights into the turns being noticeably steeper. This affects race tactics, and things like the windup for a flying-200-meter run. The track also has a huge permanent grandstand, and was used for the Pan American Games in 1987. Another difference is the weather: it was extremely humid, with temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s. I have not sweated this much in quite some time!

Wednesday, Match Sprints


This event (read here for a description of match sprints) was not really my priority, as I was skeptical about my ability to compete with the nation's best Masters sprinters. But I sure do enjoy them and signed up! I had received an email from USA Cycling a week before, asking for my recent 200 m and 500 m times, to help them put together a start list for our qualifying flying-200 m rides. There were 12 riders signed up.
"God didn't make little green apples And it don't rain in Indianapolis in the summertime"
We got to the very hot and humid track, suited up with difficulty (here I learned that it's best to suit up in air-conditioned rooms!) and did some warmup... after which it started raining. They closed the track, and we all gathered under our awnings, scrambling to keep our gear dry. Fortunately it didn't persist, and after a short break they reopened the track.

Qualifying
My 200 m qualifier
Around 11:30 we did our flying-200-meter time trials, to qualify for the matches and "seed" us in our start list, which I did in my usual 96.4-inch gear (50x14 teeth). I was really hoping for a PR, but while I did get close, my time of 12.032 seconds was a tenth slower, partly due to some wind I'd guess. It was still good enough for 3rd out of the 12 riders in my 55-59 age group, which pleasantly surprised me. Kurt Sato, the defending champ, was 2nd with 11.468, and Brian was 1st seed with an awesome 11.407!

But before we could start our matches, it started to rain again, this time absolutely dumping rain (check out my video). They closed the track and announced it would re-open later in the day. We decided to drive back to our cottage, showered, ate lunch and waited for USAC's email communique with schedule updates.

Quarter Finals
Because of the rain delay, they cancelled the 1/8th finals, and those riders packed up and left. All of our matches were to be just two laps, and the best out of 3 heats would advance to the semi-finals. Since I qualified in 3rd I was matched against the 6th-place qualifier, John Schmitz, a big guy and a local at Major Taylor. The USAC communique gave us a new start time, and around 5:00 we were getting ready to race, and trying very hard to stay cool... I was frequently dropping chunks of ice down the back of my speed suit to keep comfortable, while constantly mopping the sweat from my face.

Heat 1: I drew the #2 straw for the start position, so I was placed high up on the track while John started low on the track. Jonathan Fraley (owner of Serenity Bicycles) was my holder, and did a nice job of sending me off. John went up-track to the rail ahead of me, and I followed a few bike lengths behind him on the rail. The 28° banking provides a greater advantage than at Hellyer, so I wanted to stay high as much as possible to use that drop down the banking when I needed to accelerate. He remained on the rail through turns 1, 2, and 3. In turn 4 I knew waiting would be a mistake, so I instantly dropped down the banking below him and into the sprinter's lane... he tried to block me, but too late. I then "floated" along, keeping him close behind me. In turn 1 he stayed there, but tried to pass me again in turn 2. I was able to stand and sprint to keep him next to me, and in turns 3 and 4 I moved ahead and took the win.

Heat 2 start against John Schmitz 
Heat 2: We swapped starting positions, and I started fairly low, slow and ahead, and feinted up-track a few times to keep John guessing. I started to speed up on the back straight to avoid any surprise attacks from him. Out of turn 4 I went a bit harder as I could tell he wanted to pass, so he ended up only being able to try out of turn 2 on the last lap... he couldn't pass me, and he gave up in turn 4 allowing me to sit up before the finish line for the win.

Semi-Finals
I had advanced, as had Brian, winning in two rides in his match against Richard Toller (the 8th qualifier). Kurt Sato beat Brian Wind (7th qualifier), and Jim Thiele beat Mark Pelletier (5th qualifier). So we would compete for 1st through 4th while the others raced a four-up match for 5th through 8th place.


Heat 1 start against Kurt Sato
Heat 1: Since I qualified faster than Jim, I was matched against Kurt, while Jim faced Brian. Jonathan and Lee Povey both gave me some tips too. Very cool. I drew #1 straw, so Kurt started up-track. I stayed fairly low on the track, but knew from my races at the LA velodrome (VELO Sports Center) in Carson that Kurt has an amazing jump, so I tried to keep the average speed a bit higher to minimize his advantage from a low speed. I again feinted a few times, zig-zagging a little, to keep him off balance. And I also kept the gap back to him at a good size, not big efor him to rush. By turn 3 I could no longer block him from the sprinter's lane, so I seized it as we started to accelerate pretty hard. I floated as much as possible, keeping him close behind me, and started to go 100% in turn 2 as I knew he'd jump... he did! After I kept him out of the sprinter's lane for a while by keeping my front wheel even with  his rear wheel, he passed me in turn 3 in spite of my best efforts. I tried to catch him on the home straight, but he won by over a bike length.

Heat 2: This time I started up-track. I told Jonathan to delay releasing me at the start, so I'd be able to start with a gap ahead of me to Kurt that I could rush when needed. He started mid-track as I followed slowly along the rail. We feinted a bit, and in turn 3 he moved higher on the track. I rode about even with him and out of turn 4 I passed above him and took the lead, at a moderately fast pace. Into turn 1 I could see he wasn't trying to pass, but I knew turn 2 would be different... I jumped as hard as I could but on the back straight I saw his front wheel to my right, then his rear wheel, then he was past me. I was done and rested to save some energy for the bronze final.

Finals 
The Major Taylor velodrome has great stadium lights, so we continued racing into the night. Jim Thiele lost to Brian, so I was matched against Jim for the bronze final. But Brian now had to race Kurt in the gold final. I hoped my longer sprints had tired Kurt out for Brian!

Bronze heat 1: I drew straw #2, and started up-track and stayed there. Jim rode nicely lower on the track, with a few feints. In turn 3 I moved closer to him and out of turn 4 I was able to pass above him and into the lead. I floated a bit, but he tried to pass and I had to stand up and sprint a bit. Into turn 1 he went up-track slightly, but not enough to be able to make his next try out of turn 2 work. I was able to hold him behind me for the win.

Bronze heat 2: I seize the pole
Bronze heat 2: I started in the pole (sprinter's lane), and we rode very, very slowly in turn 1. I made a few up-track feints, but then I went a bit ahead of him in turn 2. Clearly he wanted a large gap to rush for a pass. So I slowed quickly and turned up-track, almost pinning him to the rail. As we entered turn 4 I had no trouble dropping down into the pole and when he tried to pass I was able to hold him off, next to me. In turn 2 he again tried to pass, but with no luck. Bronze was mine!

Gold finals: Brian, in the meantime, was unable to beat Kurt's jump. Tactically he rode well, but not well enough, and ended up with silver, which was still very impressive.

The award ceremony was a lot of fun, and held under the stadium lights late at night. I cheered for my friends and was pretty happy to get a bronze medal at my very first Masters National event!

The 55-59 Match Sprints podium, L to R:
Jim Thiele, Brian Moore, Kurt Sato, Dennis, John Schmitz.


Friday, 500 m Time Trial


It's a simple one: from a standing start, ride as fast as possible for 500 meters. I had long felt that I had a shot at a podium appearance in this event. My Wednesday results confirmed that, but it's never a given. And this day the wind picked up to about 12 mph, so even though it was humid (which helps speed), I doubted I'd PR... but I always try my best!

It's cool that USAC
is conducting doping
tests.
I used the same 96.4-inch gearing and tri-spoke wheel (a loaner from my Coach, Jeff Solt) that I used in the 200 m qualifiers on Wednesday. We all use the same holder for our standing starts to avoid any chance of a helpful shove. I felt my start was pretty decent, though I always feel that I could have dug deeper... hard to say, really. So much psychology goes into these short, maximal efforts. I'm pretty sure I dug very deep for the rest of the ride, though, because I got that blurry tunnel-vision effect that makes staying in the pole rather tricky.

So, I ended up with a time of 36.579 seconds, missing bronze by 78/1000ths to Jim Thiele. I was a bit disappointed with 4th place (out of 16 riders), and will keep wondering what tiny changes would have put me ahead of Jim. The good news was that Brian won gold, beating Kurt with a 35.548 vs. Kurt's 35.617. Very impressive ride, Brian! Ray also won gold, in the 60-64 group... and even had to pee in a cup for the USADA anti-doping tests!

The 55-59 500 m ITT podium, L to R:
Dennis, Kurt Sato, Brian Moore, Jim Thiele, Russel Murphy.


Sunday, Team Sprints 


Team sprints (also called "Olympic sprints") were my priority event for 2016, so I was very focused on how our racing unfolded, looking for hints to how our chances in the 55-64 500 m team sprint race would be (read here for a description of team sprints). Ray Gildea and Brian Moore were my teammates for this, and I had to admit that there were some real advantages for us:

  • We'd practiced our team sprint standing-starts numerous times throughout the season, at Hellyer Park's track. 
  • We raced as a team at both our NCNCA Elite and Masters Championships, winning gold at Masters with a time we knew to be faster than previous years' winning teams at Nationals. 
  • We had the new 500 m ITT Champion (Ray) as our man #1 (starter). 
  • We had the new 500 m ITT Champion (Brian) as our man #2 (my lead-out man). 
  • My 500 m ITT time was faster than that of most other #3 guys on the other teams (I was the "anchor"). 

However, we also faced some teams with both national and world champions as members. Very fast and experienced riders. It promised to be an awesome event!

But...

The rain became progressively worse throughout the week, forcing occasional delays, and by Friday it was starting to become rather obtrusive, to say the least. By Saturday the weather forecast was positively grim, and the start of racing was postponed several times through the day. We all pondered what would happen if it didn't stop long enough to allow the races to continue. All day Saturday we stayed inside resting and hoping the race schedule could be followed. But they finally cancelled all Saturday racing, and shifted some of them to Sunday at 7:00 am. More delays followed on Sunday morning, and on Sunday the final USAC communique confirmed:
"The forecast is looking worse and worse the later it gets. For this reason I’m going to go ahead and cancel the remaining sessions for this event"
That sucked. Previously there'd been communiques proposing shortening races, e.g. by making flying-200-meter times be the final result for the women match sprints originally scheduled on Saturday and the like. Now they would simply not take place at all. But there was also a new proposal:
"If USA Cycling was able to put together a single day of racing for team events in mid-November at one of the covered velodromes, would there be any interest?"
So, we shall see, but it's possible I'll be doing my Nationals team sprints in November, in either Colorado Springs or Carson (Los Angeles), the only covered velodromes in USA. It's a hassle, but I can't just let this go down the drain.

Another storm, above the now-empty grandstands

I had so much fun at Nationals and am very happy I went, in spite of the hardships. I plan on doing this again next year, and even have my eye on the Masters Worlds which will conveniently be in LA in 2017 and 2018.

Stay tuned!