If you just want #tracknats race report, scroll down to the spongebob gif and start reading there.
When we moved into our apartment, we had a roughly 4x8' patch of bare white rock. As we settled in, we noticed a rogue walnut tree growing through the rocks. After a year, it is now about 7 feet tall. Turns out, a year is a long time for many things to happen. This is a brief summary of the past year, and what exactly transpired at the 2017 USA Cycling track national championships.
I started riding track at the Lawrence Grass Velodrome. I'd always been stockier than most ultra-distance guys, so I thought I'd give track a try. After winning the men's kilo by a handy 20 seconds and some words of encouragement from local cycling celebrity, Roger Harrison, I decided to see how far I could make it on the track. I took Collin Earhart's charismatic Surly Steamroller on a cross country velodrome tour. It also happened to coincide with driving to my wife's annual National Flute Convention in San Diego, but we'll pretend it was a velodrome tour.
Boulder was my track riding trial by fire. Riding a 333m track is a good starting point, but starting on a 250m track straight from a flat grass track is less than ideal. It was a big change to race in San Diego on a more relaxed track, but still a great intro to racing mass start events. By the time we got back from our trip, the tree was 1.5 feet tall.
The next major event was Florida track cycling state championships. Racing, winning, and having 2-time Olympian, Carl Sundquist, telling me that I rode well was remarkable. This secured my spot in the 2017 USA National Championships. The tree in our yard was around 3 feet tall, and even had some branches!
Upon Carl's (and nearly everyone else I talked to) advice, I spent the summer in the bicycle racing capital of the world, Trexlertown, PA. Under the racing program of Olympic gold medalist and world champion, Marty Nothstein, and the tips and pointers of the rest of the field, I learned how to really "race" in mass start events. If you want to read more about it, check it out here! After a month there, I felt like I was truly as ready as I could be for Nationals. The tree was bursting now, at 4 feet tall, and lots of branches.
2017 Track National Championship recap. You made it! Good job!
Track nats for most endurance racers consisted of 3 grueling days of racing. Thursday started with individual pursuit heats, where I ran a solid 4:29 to go into the gold medal finals as the top seed. Next up was the scratch race prelim, which I had to pass through to make it to finals later that night. After the IP qualifiers, I wasn't too sold on the idea of 2 more scratch races, but it ended up being an excellent intro to the style of racing at nats on a 250m track. I also knew I was saving my effort for the IP finals against track legend, Charles (Mac) Cassin. Even though I had a few seconds on him for the qualifier, I still had only a few seconds! It's less time than it takes most of you to read this entire sentence. I went into the final with razor focus, and a solid game plan, thanks to my coach, Lee Povey. Our plan was just to ride my pace for the first half, and then quickly assess where I was in comparison to Mac, and go from there. In the words of my wife, "You were definitely tired, but basically put in time after the first lap." She's always such a positive person! Even riding tired, I still managed my first national title and gold medal in the 4k Individual Pursuit.
After that effort, I was indeed tired, and finished a solid 11th place in the scratch race final.
The next day was the omnium. If you don't know what an omnium race is now you know.
Overall, it was 5 races in a day, and thankfully 3 in the morning with only 2 in the evening session. The qualifier was a points race, which I made it through without a big issue. Next, the scratch. After a failed 4-5 lap breakaway, I managed to eek out 6th place, for a few omnium points. The tempo race (my favorite!) got me 15 points for the win, and I slid into 2nd place in the omnium. Elimination (my least favorite!), I managed to hang on until 4th place, by getting cozier than most midwesterners are comfortable with. Finally, the points race. Given it is now 4 days since this race occurred, I'm basically going with what my wife says happened. "Holloway took a lap, and you didn't go with him because you probably weren't paying attention. (I might've been getting warmed up!) The next time he went off on a break, you both got a lap. Even though you managed to stay in 2nd through that, I have no idea how the sprint worked out. I don't know, it's a little gray for me to want you to write all of this." But since I didn't understand it very well myself, that is your best info. Long story short, I got second in the omnium!
The last day was just a points race qualifier, and a later points race final. After a bit of confusion about the distances, the race was on. I took 2 laps with some other riders (sorry, can't remember everyone) and knew I was good for the finals, as I had to finish only top 12. The last race of the weekend was on, and only a quick 120 laps away! Since I was busy thinking about eating more food than should be allowed, we'll check in with the wife again. "You took a lap. So did lots of other people. Near the end a group broke away with multiple people on their second lap. You were close to losing your spot, but since you didn't catch the field, you won the final sprint by half a lap, bumping you into a heavily studied second place." Thanks, Margaret!
All things considered, it was an amazing weekend. I walked away with 2 silver medals, 1 gold medal, and the coveted stars and stripes national champion jersey. I did much better than I ever expected, and I can't thank all the people that helped me get here enough. My wife, Margaret; the entirety of #teamlambie (Marvin, Tami, Dexter, Michael, Uncle Mike, Aunt Shelly, and other Lambies abroad); my amazing sports massage therapist, Beth Morford; photographer extraordinaire, Andy White; the entire crew at the Velo Sports Center; and my coach, Lee Povey. The road from the grass track to national championships went quickly, but a lot can happen in a year. There is certainly more to go. The tree is now 7 feet, and we have to trim it. We've named it Frederick, and decided it will be a bonsai.