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!
|7-11 Velodrome, with dome|
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.
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!
|Ken, at the Olympic Training Center.|
|Inside the dome, warming up on the infield track.|
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.
|Our start, into turn 1. |
Ray in the pole, Brian, me at the top.
(Photo by Bev Chaney)
|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, 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.
|55+ team sprint podium.|
|Wheeeeee! My first National Champion's jersey!|
Now I get to add stars and stripes to all of my jerseys!
|Jim Turner in the |
Athlete Center's cafeteria.
|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!