In 2007 I was riding on the AMD masters team. Among my teammates was Kent Bostick (who should need no introduction), Larry Nolan (now up to 23 master’s world track championships) and Mick Hellman (who later won the Master’s Individual Pursuit world championship) before starting a new company and then starting a side career in music as the drummer for the Well Known Strangers.
We were in Seven Springs, PA for the USA Cycling Master’s Road Championships. The criteriums were spread over two days to cover all the different groups. Kent raced on the first day in the 50-54 group while Larry, Mick and myself raced the next day in the 45-49 group. It should be noted that Mick and I had similar strengths in that we were better at climbing, time trialing and pursuiting and not all that great at sprinting. Larry on the other hand would be our guy if it came down to a sprint.
Kent’s race was amazing. A group of two riders got away and opened up a large gap of maybe around 40-45 seconds before Kent was able to escape alone. He slowly made progress against the two lead riders, but he was chasing alone for many laps. Finally with about two laps to go it looks like he would catch on the next lap, then as we watched the final corner to see who would show up first we saw Kent with a large gap on the other two riders. Somehow he chased them down alone and then caught and rode away from them on the final lap. It really was something to see.
That night back at the condo the whole team got together to cook diner and eat. At one point Mick and I were talking to Kent about the next day’s race. Kent had some advice for us. “You guys need to attack and get off the front to either make the guys chase and set up Larry or to get away alone. Just attack and ride at 30 mph and see if anybody can come up to you. You guys are time trialists, you can ride 30 mph right?” Mick and I shared a glance. Kent continued on. “Just ride at 30 mph and see who can bridge up. Either ride away alone or set up Larry for the sprint.” Later Mick and I had a private conversation and agreed that sure, we could ride at 30 mph for a while. But one. They weren’t going to let us use our TT bikes in the crit and “a while” most surely did not mean “for the rest of the race without getting caught”.
On the day, Mick and I made several attacks, got into a few short-lived breakaways, but we obviously didn’t ride at 30 mph for long enough and got caught each time. In the end it came down to a sprint where Larry was able to finish 4th.
Ever since then though if Mick and I get to talking we can’t help but remember that day and eventually somebody will say, “What Would Kent Bostick Do (WWKBD)?” The other will then answer, “Ride at 30 mph of course.”
This year at the UCI World Track Championships Kent was there racing in the 65-69 group now. He’s not at fit or dedicated to cycling as he was back then, but I watched his points race. He may not be quite able to ride at 30 mph anymore, but damned if he wasn’t going to try. He only lost that points race on the last sprint.
I couldn’t help but to text Mick and our other team-mate Rob (now playing guitar in the Well Known Strangers when not riding his bike).
Course Description: A point to point mass start hill climb road race from Brisbane to the top of San Bruno Mountain.
Road Surface: Mostly good pavement.
Gearing: I like to run a 36×26 low gear for this race. A slightly bigger gear might be fine, but I like to stay in the saddle and keep my cadence up. The last mile or so has a lot of 9-10% grade.
Facilities: Porta Cans at registration.
Weather: New Years day is going to be cold. It’s just a question of how cold and possibly how wet…
Rules Specific to this race: N/A
Race Advice: Get there early enough to ride to the top before the race if you haven’t done it before. It’s a nice way to warm up and get familiar with the climb. Also, the view up top is really nice on a clear day.
Bring some kind of bag to pack all of your warm clothes into and put it in the truck that goes to the top before the race. I bring enough warm clothes so that I can pack my back of warm stuff for the top and still have enough warm clothes to wear while warming up and waiting for the start.
Your best bet is to bring a trainer to get a good warm up before the start.
The race generally starts off hard and then gets harder. It can be a bit of a rude awakening after your winter slumber. Do not expect to ride into it. Be ready to go from the gun because surely somebody in the group will do just that.
There will be some separation on Guadalupe Canyon, but the real damage happens after looping into the park on Radio Road. After the right turn loop into the park you go under Guadalupe Canyon and past a parking area. That is about where it starts getting steep. From there you have about 1.5 miles to go.
It can be breezy up top. It’s worth noting where the wind is blowing from and trying to see if you can take advantage of that.
Next up for me was the 2km Individual Pursuit. I had high hopes for this event given my world record and having beaten last year’s 2nd place finisher Larry Nolan twice this summer (though by the smallest of margins). Due to my time I was put into the final heat on the home straight against Mark Wiffen of the UK. I thought I had a chance to win. At that time the fastest rider so far was Larry in 2:22.596. I gave Rob Van Houweling my schedule that called for an opening lap of 24 seconds, than then 7 laps at 16.9. That would be fast enough put me into the gold medal round in the evening. But my opening lap was slow and the rest weren’t any better. I finished 4th in 2:24.07 putting me into the bronze medal ride against Stephane Le Beau from Canada. I was about .7 seconds slower than Stephane, but felt that I had executed my start lap poorly in the qualifier and could get most of it back there. But when it came down to the final I just didn’t have what it took and rode even slower. Almost as slow as I did outdoors at Hellyer and San Diego!
The video for the two medal rides is below. The gold medal ride was a great match and well worth the watch! Larry and Mark Wiffen traded the lead several times.
Two days after the IP was the points race. This one, like the scratch race was a race that I felt I could possibly win or possibly finish in last place. In the morning qualifier all you really needed to do was score in one of the three points sprints and you would surely make the final. 4 places times 3 sprints means a maximum of 12 riders would have points at the end and 12 qualify. If less than 12 score points, then the final qualifying spots are based on finish order of the final sprint. My tactic was to score in a sprint, then move to the back and stay out of trouble. I did just that, nabbing 2nd place points on the 2nd sprint and getting out of the way. Much more confidence inspiring than my Scratch race qualifying heat.
The final though was a different story. I am not a sprinter so my tactic was to try and find a way to lap the field and/or score some points from a break. It just didn’t work out. I got into one short lived break that was brought back after a couple of laps and all of my other attempts were even less successful. Long story short, nothing I did worked and the more I tried, the more tired I got and the less authority my attacks had. I finished with a big fat goose egg in the points total, but didn’t quite finish last. 18th out of 23 starters. Larry rode another great race, taking 2nd in the final sprint to ensure his victory.
My last event was the Team Pursuit on Saturday the 14th. My team was Larry Nolan, Don Langley, Shaun Wallace and myself. We called our team “Shiver me Timbers”. Don’s idea since three of us were riding on Specialized Shiv road TT frames and the track is wood. BTW, the Specialized Langster track bike is named after Don who works at Specialized and has probably been racing on the track longer than I’ve been racing at all. Don, Larry and I had a reasonable amount of practice together, but Shaun lives in San Diego and the four of us had only rode one team pursuit in San Diego, plus a short workout the night before. On the other hand, the defending champion team from LA has done this event together for close to three years, live in the same area and train together frequently on this very velodrome. To say that they were a well drilled team was an understatement.
Race day morning we woke to an email thread between Shaun and the chief UCI official regarding his eligibility to race for a US team. Shaun is from Great Britian and raced at an elite level back in the day, including the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He has been an US citizen for about 9 years but for some reason the UCI still has him listed as GB in their database. A copy of his passport and USA Cycling license was enough to prove his citizenship and we were allowed to race.
We started second to last in the qualifiers. Our plan was to ride a schedule just fast enough to beat the previous best time and get into the gold medal ride. We went with a 23 second start lap, followed by 11 laps at 17 seconds for a 3:30. We had some issues and when I got to the front for my last pull we were .5 seconds behind the current best time. I was able to get on the gas enough to get that time back and we finished with the best time so far of 3:31.053.
The Pinnacle team started last. They are two time defending TP champions and hold the world best time for our age group of 3:28. They started out faster than us and built up to a 2 second lead with 1km to go. From that point they slowed and finished in 3:30.528, a comfortable .5 seconds ahead of us. It looked like they went out as normal and then just floated the last km to do just enough to qualify and conserve energy. They looked good.
We discussed our strategy for the final and went with a 3:27.5 schedule as we felt that it would take a record time to beat them. 23 second start followed by 16.8 second laps. We also had a serious discussion about pull lengths. Larry and I felt really good and would take 2 lap pulls. Don and Shaun would take pulls of whatever length they felt they could keep on the desired pace. Better to do .5 laps at the right speed than do a full lap and start slowing down and not be able to recover afterwards.
And we just nailed it. We expected to be behind for the first km or so, but we were ahead from the start and almost all of our splits were ahead of schedule. Our slowest lap was a 16.8 and we closed with a 16.1 to take the win in a new worlds best time of 3:25.286, almost 4 seconds ahead of Pinnacle. Almost the best part of the team pursuit was Don getting his first world championship. He has tried on a few occasions and been close, but never quite got it. Larry of course has won about a million, Shaun had won before and I lucked into one in my first race so it was great to finish it off with Don opening up his account also.
It was a great way to end the week! I was selected for drug testing and set another “world record” by getting my business done (including paperwork) in about 10 minutes. 🙂 Much better than the several hours of rehydrating after the hour record.
At the start of the week I was VERY nervous about this. At that time I wasn’t sure if I would want to come back in 2018. Maybe I’d just do one track worlds and be done with it. By the end of the week though we were already planning for next year. The organizers did a great job and the track is a great track. We will be back for sure.
Today was the first day of racing at the UCI Master’s World Track Championships. My first race, the Scratch Race is today. In the morning I took a short ride along the coast, then showered packed up and headed to the velodrome. Only one session today, starting at 2pm. I put on my usual mass start racing gear of 52×15, warmed up on my rollers, got my bike inspected and was ready to go. In the mass start races they choose half of the field to start on the rail and half on the blue band. If you start on the blue band you need to provide a holder. One of the many things I didn’t know before hand. Dan Smith helped me out and we started our 20 lap (5km) qualifier. We had 20 starters and 12 of us would go on to the final later in the afternoon/evening. I was VERY nervous. Not so much about the racing part, but of riding a bike that has no brakes while surrounded by 23 other riders on 45 degree banking. I’m kind of rusty on that part of things.
We started off and I was able to slot myself into 3rd wheel and was able to chill and stay out of trouble while one of the Argentinian’s rode tempo on the front. My biggest concern was getting swarmed and having the legs to do well, but being boxed in. As the laps counted down I was weighing on whether or not to make a move yet. I waited one lap too long and at about 6 to go got swarmed pretty badly. There were times when I was surrounded by guys who were closer to me than I like and had to tell myself to relax. Frankly, it was scary for me at times. Not because of poor riding around me, but because my comfort level is not what it could be in close quarters on the track. The last few laps were very fast and I moved up when I could, but at the finish I wasn’t sure if I had made it or not. In the end I finished 11th and made it into the final.
For the final, I geared up. I was going to switch to a 53×15, but realized that my 53 tooth cog is on my pursuit bike which was back at the VRBO house. So I looked at a gear chart and went with a 50×14. That’s about 1 inch more gear than the 53×15. I got my bike checked again and this time I was on the rail so I didn’t need a holder. My lack of aggression in the qualifier almost made me miss the final. For this one I knew that I needed to “got big or go home”. I was only going to do well in the race from a break away. I wasn’t going to win, or even get on the podium in a bunch sprint. My best bet was to attack and if I got caught, attack again.
A few laps in I attacked and was in a short lived break. We stayed out about 2-3 laps and were brought back. I recovered for a few laps in the pack and went again. I was joined by fellow Hellyerite Bill Brissman and two Canadian’s, Krzysztof Kurzawinski and Stephane Le Beau. We made good progress. Krzysztof in particular was really strong. Unfortunately Bill came off and as the three of us started closing on the back of the field, Krzysztof gapped Stephane and I and caught the field on his own. Stephane and I made contact about a lap later, but the field was in pieces and it was hard to keep track of where Krzysztof was. BTW, did I mention that this was really hurting? I made my way from group to group and was able to tag onto Larry Nolan as he closed one of the gaps to the front group. From there we only had 4-5 laps to go and I just kept moving up as much as I could. As the wind up for the sprint started I was giving all I had to stay on the wheels up around 6th spot. I didn’t think that the two Canadian’s were ahead of me, but frankly I wasn’t sure. In the end I held them off, but it wasn’t for another 10-15 minutes that I knew i had won.
Seeing as how this race was the first on my schedule this week I spent a lot of time imagining how I’d win this race. I’m big on that sort of thing. In fact I think my Tour de France of my imagination palmares rivals Eddy Merckx. 🙂 I came here thinking that I could win this race, but also knowing that I could end up last, or possibly not even making the final. There are so many other elements that go into a mass start track race than a TT or hill climb. In fact, doing so poorly in the qualifier probably helped me in the final.
I have to admit that I got a little misty when they played the national anthem.
Next up is the 2km Pursuit on Tuesday, Points Race on Thursday and Team Pursuit on Saturday. From here on out, qualifiers will be in the morning 9am session and finals will be in the afternoon session.
Edited to add the updated YouTube feed (music and commentary muted due to music licensing issues)
My events will be the Scratch Race on Sunday the 8th, 2,000m Individual Pursuit on the 10th, Points race on the 12th and 3,000 meter Team Pursuit on the 14th. All four events will have a qualifier in the morning session and final in the evening session except the scratch race where both races will be in the same session. Here is a quick explanation of the events at Master’s Track Worlds.
I have a lot of experience on the track, just not recently. From about 1995 up through 2002 I spend a lot of time racing on the track and going to master’s track nationals and even the 1996 Olympic Track Trials. Then I started racing less and scuba diving more. I sold my track bike to buy a dry suit! In 2008 they held master’s track nationals at Hellyer Velodrome in San Jose so I stripped down my TT bike (Specialized Transition) spent some time on the track and had a good nationals, winning the Individual Pursuit, Points Race and Team Pursuit along with 4th in the kilometer and 2nd in the Best All Around.
And then promptly didn’t get on the track again until last fall. In my lead up to the hour record I of course spent a lot of time on the track, but all of it doing steady state efforts. And pretty much all if it alone.
After Pikes Peak I finally got down and raced in the last two Wednesday Night races at the velodrome. Again, back on my Transition. The results were spectacularly mediocre. I had forgotten just how hard a 10 lap race could be! I was able to get into some late race moves in the longer races, but my ability to follow sharp attacks, much less sprint around somebody needs a LOT of work. I was initially pretty uncomfortable riding in close quarters on a bike with no brakes, but got fairly used to it pretty quickly.
From now until Worlds my focus will be on sprinting and short, HARD efforts. When I say I’ll be focusing on sprinting I don’t mean that I’m looking to come out of the bunch and win the Scratch Race in a group sprint. That just isn’t going to happen. But I do need the snap to follow and make hard attacks. In my first two outings if somebody hit it hard I would generally get gapped by a couple of bike lengths and then have to claw back as I got up to speed. Coming around somebody in a sprint wasn’t really in the cards. Granted, it was mostly young guys I was going against, but some of the guys in my age group (Larry Nolan for instance) are pretty damn fast. With that in mind I’ve started doing standing start sprints in my 52×15 once a week. Starting from a track stand I do a full sprint up to 25-28 mph. This will not only help my explosiveness, but as a side benefit it will improve my pursuit and team pursuit starts.
The other thing I’m doing is short VO2 max efforts. Say 4×3′ @ VO2 max. My opportunity to do well in the mass start races will probably come from covering moves and then counter attacking and then either staying away alone (hopefully) or in a small group, or taking a lap on the field. As a bonus, those 3 minute intervals are of a similar duration to my individual and team pursuits.
Another change is that I acquired a set of 167.5mm track cranks. That’s a pretty big change from the 175mm road cranks I’ve been using on the track. Besides protecting me from tagging a pedal on the 45 degree banking and going down in a heap I think they will help my speed and acceleration. I’ve taken to riding the rollers on my track bike a few mornings a week, working on steady cadences of around 120rpm. Along with that I’ll also do a few “spin ups” where I am able to get my cadence into the 180 rpm range briefly. The 167.5’s make that MUCH easier than my 175’s. I feel much smoother at super high (for me) rpm’s and don’t feel like I’m milliseconds away from flying off the rollers. I hope that over the next few weeks both my stead state and peak rpm’s will increase. BTW, I will still use the 175’s for the individual and team pursuit events.
Another important thing will be to get together with my team pursuit team mates as often as possible to train together.
One of the things that I really wanted to do this year was to break the hour record AND win the national hill climb championship AND then win a world track championship. I think that it’s a fair bet that nobody else attending track worlds will have competed at Pikes Peak.
A couple of things conspired against me. First, for the whole lead up to the hour I focused on the demands of that event and didn’t get too worked up about being a few pounds over my normal race weight. Once I got through the hour I tried to lose some weight in the month leading up to Pikes Peak but wasn’t all that successful. Last year the morning I flew to Colorado I weighed 69.5kg. This year I was 71.3kg. I felt good though and was riding well based on power output and times up climbs compared to last year so I was optimistic. Also, with the hour being my absolute focus for most of the last year I wasn’t going to beat myself up about not being as light as I’d like for this secondary, if important goal. It is what it is…
On the other hand there was one other difference between this year and last. Michael Carter was entered. If you’re not familiar with him it was a pro in the late 80’s, early 90’s for both Motorola and Coors Light. He actually rode in the 1991 Tour de France. He is a pure climber, probably about 5’8″, 130 pounds. On one hand I was optimistic. Looking at how much he won Mt. Evans by (not much) against guys who I beat by a fair amount last year at Pikes Peak told me that I had a shot. Also, what somebody did in the past doesn’t necessarily translate into current performance. Everybody’s lifestyles change so you never know how they will do now. The fact that he was a much better climber than me back then, wouldn’t necessarily mean he was better than me now based on his current lifestyle. On the other hand, he didn’t get called to do the Tour de France because Jim Ochowitz couldn’t get a hold of me in 1991. 🙂
Some friends of mine from Colorado clued me in on how he would ride. In a big gear and then he would attack until he could ride away alone. I was leery of that because coming from sea level I could get into a lot of trouble trying to follow a hard attack. My plan was to follow the attacks but more smoothly. i.e. don’t make the vicious effort to stay right on his wheel, but do an easier acceleration after him and then slowly close the gap without going fully into the red.
This year’s race started out faster than last year, but the group stayed relatively large until about Glen Cove which is in the high 11,000′ range. Carter attacked and I followed him as planned and latched on. He eased so I went though and kept the pressure on as he had split the group and it was just the two of us. Unfortunately for me he pretty quickly attacked again and I couldn’t follow. Maybe I should have just sat on him, but I doubt it would have made much difference. I was okay for steady hard, but if it was going to be moderate punctuated by hard attacks I was going to get dropped anyway. I hoped that if we worked together for a while I’d be better off. Anyway, I held him relatively close at around 20-25 seconds until we got through the flat section at 13,000′ and then from there it opened up to something like 55-57 seconds at the end. And he did ride in a big gear like I was told. Once away from me he seemed to always be standing. From experience that isn’t uncommon for small riders, but still a bit surprising in such thin air. Every time I stood there was a cost to it so I stayed in the saddle about 99.9% of the time. I also used my 34×32 more than last year.
On a comical note, it can be a bit confusing in this race because of all the gran fondo people who start in front of you. When you pass them you can see that they have a yellow frame number, where the USAC people just have white numbers on their backs. But once you pass them it occasionally gets confusing as you’ve got a lot going on and you look back and sometimes can’t tell if it is a competitor chasing you or a gran fondo person you passed. Passing through 13,000′ for the final 2 miles of 10% I kept seeing a person behind me with a kit that looked familiar from my race group. He was pretty close and I thought it might be 3rd place and I was worried. I spent a lot of that section worrying about getting passed, but after I finished I later found out that 3rd place was something like 3 minutes behind me. A lot of stress for nothing!
My self analysis of why I got beat boils down to I think 2 things.
1. Mike Carter is a really, really good climber.
2. It would have been nice to be 4 pounds lighter like last year.
If I was as light as last year, would I have beat him? I don’t know. I think it might have been possible, but as I mentioned above. He’s just a really good climber who lives in Denver. That’s a pretty tough combination to beat. It surely would have been closer.
Also, like last year the weather the day before was iffy with rain, but it cleared overnight and was beautiful (if cool) on race day. Even though it was cold, it was not as cold as last year so all in all about as good as you can expect starting a race before 7am at 9,000′ up in the mountains.
NorCal had a good day as Todd Markelz won the 30-39 race, Jonathan Baker won the 40-40 race, my friend Steve Archer won the 60-69 race, I got 2nd in 50-59, Josh Dapice was 3rd in 40-49 and Liz Beneshin was 2nd in women 60-69.
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Also, Phil Gaimon won the elite race. I asked him at awards if he had gotten the KOM (no, missed by about 30 seconds) and if it was his first national championship. It was. That was kind of funny in that he had to retire to win his first national championship. Afterwards, Steve and I packed up our bikes for shipping (Bikeflights.com rocks), had an awesome bacon cheeseburger with fries in Colorado Springs and then drove to Denver to fly home.
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No Super Epic ride this year which I was sad about, but it was good to get home in a more timely fashion.
Next up, a couple of weeks of just riding around for fun (with a few races, but no “specific training”) and then full on preparation for geezer track worlds in LA this October. Scratch race, Points race, pursuit and team pursuit will be my events. Tomorrow night I’ll do my first mass start track race since the 2008 master’s track nationals. Should be interesting! 🙂
My power data compared to last year was interested. Last year I averaged 269 watts start to finish with a time of 1:20:15. This year I averaged 287 watts for a time of 1:21:03. Almost 20 watts more and almost a minute slower. Even the watts per kg didn’t make sense. 3.87 average last year vs. 4.02 this year. The story was the same even when you only compared sections at the end where I was alone and full gas both years. Based on the power you’d think I would have gone as fast or faster. My best guess is the the zero offset or calibration is slightly different between the two years. I did a zero offset this year minutes before the start and am pretty sure I did the same last year. Same power meter, same rings BTW.
Course Description: There is one main thing to consider on this course. McEwen Road. It’s steep and you’re going to have to go up it a number of times.
Road Surface: The roads are all in decent shape.
Gearing: Bring the smallest gear you have. Don’t think about it, just bring it. McEwen is steep, up to 14% in places and climbs over 500 feet in just over a mile. You’ll do it a minimum of 4 times and as many as 8 if you’re a Pro/1/2 male.
Facilities: There is no water at the start/finish area. Nearby Crockett will have anything you might need.
Weather: Expect cool temperatures due to the early start and also the proximity to the Carquinez Straight. It could get warm on the Franklin Canyon portion of the course, but you’ll soon be back near the water where it’s cooler..
Feeding: The feed zone will be on Franklin Canyon Road leading up to the finish line..
Rules Specific to this race: No Crybabies!
Race Advice: McEwen Road will define how this race goes. The race will shatter on this climb, it’s just a question of which lap. You can either make it up this climb with the best in your group or you can’t. Assuming you make that split it might be possible to make something happen after you crest the climb. The group might not be in the mood to go hard after you. The catch is that you (or your small group) will need a pretty reasonable gap to hold off the fresher legs in the group behind the next time up McEwen.
If you’ve got the legs, waiting until maybe mid race when the pack has dwindled and riders are tired might be a good time for that move as there will be fewer and more tired legs trying to chase.
Another option would be to try and get away through Crockett. This is kind of a classic move as you have a bunch of riders behind not wanting to work hard leading up to the climb you’re heading towards. A concerted effort up front combined with an unwillingness to go hard behind can give you a nice gap. The question is whether or not it will be enough to hold off the group up McEwen.
And finally, if you’re feeling great you can force a selection on McEwen and go to the line with a small group.
The finish hill is a nice grind. You might be able to take it in the big ring, but I doubt that there would be any advantage to it. Probably much safer to settle into the small ring. The finish is likely to be into a headwind though so be patient and don’t go too early.
Here’s an ancedote from when I did this race in 1986. It was part of “The Lemond Series” which was a series of road races each Saturday and Sunday over the course of 5 weeks starting in early February. This race was about mid way through the series and lucky us, the 7-11 team was in town and showed up. The team that won two stages of the Giro d’Italia the previous summer… Men among boys… Ron Keifel, Bob Roll, Alex Stedia, Davis Phinney, etc.
Anyway, it was of course brutally hard, partially due to the course and largely due to the 7-11 team. I slogged my way through somewhere in the top 10 and was happy enough with that. I remember hearing Ron Keifel (one of those Giro stage winners from 1985) talking after the race. He said, “Yeah, I used the 39×23 when we were cruising and my 21 when it was time to go hard”. I used by 39×24 every single lap. There really was no other option. So, if you’re up for maybe winning a stage in the Giro your 39×23 will be fine.