USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships

First I would like to thank Adam Duvendeck at Home Depot velodrome in Carson California, for maintaing and promoting the Premier indoor cycling track in the US, and Keri Kahn and the ENTIRE USA Cycling staff, crew and officials for puting on a very organized and smooth running event, and for granting me unfettered access .

Here are some facts about the Velodrome

Velodrome Facts
The Velo Sports Center is the first and only permanent indoor track of international standard in North America.
The Velo Sports Center is a national training center for USA Cycling and is the home track of USA World Champion Sarah Hammer
2,450-seat capacity, all with great sight lines
250-meter international size track
Approximately 33 miles of Siberian Pine were used to create the cycling track
Track circumference at measuring line: 250 meters
Track width: Seven meters
Maximum inclination: 45 degrees
Maximum speed on track:
About 53 mph (85 km/h)

Being an old BMX’r, I was completely new to Track cycling, other than what I’ve seen on tv I had no idea about the different categories or the strategies or what the different colored lines circling the track were for.
I figured I better find out, so I “asked Jeeves” and this is what he told me, there were 5 categories.

(More after the break)

The Kierin
The Kierin is a race in which you follow a motorized pacer around the track, then sprint for victory following a speed controlled start.

The Sprint
Depending on the size of the velodrome, this event can be from 600 m to 1000 m. Unlike the sprints in athletics, these events do not usually start with riders sprinting from the starting line and they are not confined to lanes. The early parts of each race will often be highly tactical with riders pedaling slowly, as they carefully jockey for position, often trying to force their opponents up high on the track in an attempt to get their rivals to make the first move

The Individual /Team Pursuit
The individual pursuit is a track cycling event where two cyclists begin the race from a stationary position on opposite sides of the track. The event is held over 4 km for men and 3 km for women. The two riders start at the same time and set off to complete the race distance in the fastest time.

The Madison
Teams are usually of two riders but occasionally of three. Only one of the team is racing at any time and the replacement rider has to be touched before he can take over. The touch can also be a push, often on the shorts, or one rider hurling the other into the race by a hand-sling.

What are the colored lines on the track for?
Between the infield (sometimes referred to as an apron) and the actual track is the blue band (called “côte d’azur”) The blue band is a warning to cyclists that they may scrape their pedal along the infield when in a curve, which can easily result in a crash.
20 cm above the blue band is the black line. The inner edge of this 5 cm line defines the length of the track. 90 cm above the inside of the track is the outside of the 5 cm wide red sprinter’s line. The zone between black and red lines is the optimum route around the track. A rider leading in this zone cannot be passed on the inside; other riders must pass on the longer outside route.
Minimum 250 cm (or half the track width) above the inside of the track is the blue stayers’ line. This line serves in races behind motorbikes as a separation line. Stayers below the blue line may not be overtaken on the inside.The finish line is black on white and near the end of the home straight. Red lines are marked in the middle of each straight as start and finish line for pursuit races. A white 200 m line marks 200 m before the finish.

Now after shooting the USA cycling national championships for two days I have to say this is absolutely crazy. To see some of the blistering speeds these guys get going around the track on a BICYCLE is extremely impressive.
The strategies involved in some of the racing is contradictory to what you think a race actually is, like the sprint where you ride slowly around the track sometimes almost coming to a complete stop jockeying for position and then exploding around the track for the final lap, I saw speeds around 48 mph on a 45* banked turn.

If you’ve never seen this live you owe it to yourself to see these highly impressive athletes
Hurl themselves around the track at break neck speeds, not to mention the focus and level of concentration at which they compete.
It was exhilarating watching them perform, and capture their images.

A special note to the PARA Athletes (so called physically challenged).
You guys ROCK. I say “so-called” because of your immense dedication, determination, skill, heart AND SHEER ATHLETIC TALENT thats required to push past your “wall” and train to the point of exhaustion, and then continuing to push past that.
That’s how CHAMPIONS TRAIN. I know form personal experience.
Your not just athletes you ARE CHAMPIONS.

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