2017SCNCA 1

SCNCA Master's State Track Championships at the San Diego Velodrome

Five events raced, with three golds and two silvers. Not a bad day at the races!

This story actually began the day after the 2017 State Team Time Trial in May. At that race our team (Joe Peterson, Bruce DePriester - from Team Velosport, David Stanton, and I) had a fantastic ride, all four of us finishing together with a pretty fast time of 50:31, and getting second place at around a half minute behind a very talented team, which contained a couple of world champions. The next day I started training for the State Track Championships to be held at the end of September at the San Diego Velodrome.

Up until that point, I had spent the entire year focusing on the SoCal Time Trial Series and the State Individual and Team Time Trials, which were all either 20K or 40K races. By comparison, on the track my individual events are usually 200 to 500 meters, including a 3K four man team event where my pulls would be 250 meters at the longest during the race.

The first half of the road time trial season (which runs from September through May each year) had gone very well, as I was posting sub 30 minute 20K times and was racking up points in the TT Series. Then I got a bad cold in December that I just couldn't shake and my times began to suffer. It wasn't until late February that I was able to get back below 30 minutes in a 20K event. Even with that setback, I was able to score enough points to hold on and win the 2017 Men's 55+ SoCal Time Trial Series for the second year in succession.

The 2017 State Individual Time Trial was one of those learning experiences, as Ryan Mongan and I rode in the Men's Tandem 90+ class, that is, until we got a puncture within sight of the finish line. We never actually got to the line, but rather spent about a half hour thinking of what might have been while we were waiting on the side of the road for someone to come pick us up. A great big thanks goes out to Carl Moler for being there for us, as usual.

For the State Track Championships, since the San Diego Velodrome was to be the venue, it was possible that a couple of the local world champion track guys might not go down, which would definitely open up several possibilities for me. So, if I was to go, I had to be ready. As a result, I changed up everything and put all my attention toward preparing for sprints and short efforts.

In the early summer, I spent several Saturdays in a row with David Stanton doing big ring intervals on GMR and GRR for power, followed by slow cadence big ring grinding from Baldy Village to Ice House for strength. I also dedicated every summer Sunday to doing multiple 1K intervals for leg speed, and at least one day a week doing standing track starts. For the last few weeks before the event I took in several rides with Ralph Bonin where we hammered up short rolling climbs for power. This, of course, was in addition to two days a week at the track, where I worked with my training partners, Deo Asuncion (Team Velocity), John Bergman (Chamois Butt'r Cycling Team), and Jim Nelms (Pinnaclife Racing Team) on the 3K Team Pursuit.

As the date of the State meet drew near, I felt I had put in a solid four months of preparation and would be ready to do what I could. In the days before the first race session in San Diego, I knew that I had good speed in my legs, but also knew that I was unfamiliar with the San Diego Velodrome and that I would have some good competition from the San Diego boys. As I thought about the upcoming races, and particularly about the first race of the meet, the 500 Meter Time Trial, a verse from the Book of Proverbs popped into my head, Proverbs 21:31, which says: "The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord."

I spent a lot of time thinking about that verse. I had prepared well for the races, but understood that ultimately victory does belong to the Lord. I try not to pray to win, but I just prayed that I would be able to ride a good race, without any mistakes or mishaps.

2017SCNCA 3The reason I was thinking this way was that the first event, the 500 Meter Time Trial, is a violent event, and it is over in a flash. Any false moves and it is curtains for your hopes of victory. Here is how the race goes; first you are called to the start line, then you walk up with your cranks set how you like them, then a holder (or a machine at an inside velodrome) holds your bike, you get on the bike and lock your cleats into your pedals and cinch up your toe straps (to keep your shoes on the pedals!), then the starter counts down to the gun and you are off, violently driving your bike from a dead stop to top speed as you blast past the finish line, all in a few precious seconds.

When the gun when off I knew I had a good start. I could feel the power as I drove the bike through the first corner. I had chosen a smaller gear than the one I use at the LA Velodrome because of the wind at this outdoor venue and the asphalt track surface. The lower gear gave me a good jump, but hurt a bit on the finish as I was spinning out. As I crossed the line I felt I had done a good race. My training buddies told me I looked very fast. The good news was that the San Diego rider whose previous times were closest to mine raced on the opposite side of the track at the same time as me, so when I finished I looked across the track and could see he was quite a few feet behind, so I felt confident I had beaten him. Of course, I had to wait for all of the other 500's to finish for the results to be posted.

When they posted the result sheet, I was pleased to say the least. My time was in the 38 second range and no one else in my age group had broken 40 seconds! I was only 6 hundredths of a second off of the winning time from the next younger age group and I was also a hundredth of a second faster than my most recent time at LA, which is not supposed to happen on an outdoor asphalt track. In a word, I flew around that track! It was great to be the individual 500 meter State Champion!

2017SCNCA 4Now it was on to the next event. One of my training partners (Deo) and I had made an agreement that we would work together in the mass start races to get a gold medal for both of us, but if one of us won first, that one would help the other win a State Championship. Needless to say, when I won the 500 meter event Deo was quite pleased because that meant I would be helping him in the scratch race (basically a crit on the track), which was the next event. So we planned that at 2 laps to go I would attack with him on my wheel and hold on to lead him out in the sprint. It was a great experience, as the race went perfectly as planned, actually better, because right before I was to jump another guy jumped which allowed me to have his slipstream into which to accelerate. I did my best Dave Bell imitation (Dave used to lead me out like this in scratch races almost 20 years ago). When we got to the last turn Deo yelled at me that we were all alone. Apparently when we attacked a big gap had opened and the pack could not catch back. So at that point, I sat up and let Deo take the win while I cruised across the line easily for second with the rest of the guys several bike lengths behind. That was fun.  So after two races, two of my big goals were accomplished, I had a Championship and my training buddy Deo had a Championship.

2017SCNCA 2Our next big goal was the 3K Team Pursuit, which the four of us had been practicing for a couple of months. We were up against a very good San Diego team, but we had a solid race and beat them by 6 seconds to win that event. It was gratifying for all four of us to win a Championship together.

2017SCNCA 5Later on I also won the Men's 60+ Match Sprint. The finals of the Match Sprint were the last races of the weekend, so there were very few people left. It was kind of anticlimactic at that point, but nice to win another race and Championship nevertheless.

Earlier on Saturday afternoon, one of my training partners and I had also joined up with another rider for an ad hoc run at the Team Sprint. We did this without knowing the third guy and without any practice. We ended up getting second in that event by 3 tenths of a second. I rode a small gear in that race for fear of the wind and the track surface, but later realized that I did not need to, so I probably cost us the Gold in that race by being under geared on the final lap.

All in all it was a great weekend of racing. The promoter did a fantastic job in organizing the event. All of my training partners netted a State Championship, and I came away with 3 Gold and 2 Silver medals. As I said earlier, I truly believe that "The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord."




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