Race report: Pan am master track championships

by Mike Nelson December 03, 2015

From CeraSport sponsored Tony Byatt:

For those with the patience or interest, the beginning of the race report:

The flight had all of the typical maddening and frustrating experiences involved with almost any air travel these days. An eighteen hour day of Albuquerque to Denver to Newark to Puerto Rico finally set me on the ground at 0330 on Sunday morning. I rolled in to the hotel bed, beat, at 0430. I managed to sleep until 1030 when I finally rolled out of bed and headed to the quite good restaurant in the hotel. Two or three cups of excellent coffee, a nice buffet breakfast, and I felt remarkably fine. I walked the two blocks up to the velodrome to check it out.

Much to amusement and mild dismay, they were painting the track, having just completed repairs! Glidden housepaint, no less. The track would be open at four for practice sessions. Lots of guys that had come early were able to stew in their own angry juices for a few days since they had not been able to ride any laps!

I showed up at four having carefully assembled my bike and bolting on the warm up wheels. Old pro that I am, I saddled up, cruised the apron for a few laps and went to get on the boards on the back straight. I had not noticed the one inch vertical lip on the track where the cote d'azur started so when I entered at my normal shallow angle, I promptly caught the lip and crashed. Nothing to see here folks…just a badly bruised male ego; move along.

Warm up went well, the compression socks on the flight seem to have worked some sort of magic, and I headed back to the hotel for food and snooze!

The schedule was a tough one – Monday, the easiest day; I was to start with the 500 and, in the afternoon, team pursuit. Flying with a trainer or rollers would have added another couple of hundred bucks to the trip and I was now regretting not having them. I got a decent warm up in before they closed the track for racing but the timing was off. It would be an hour before I raced. I did some plyo jumps (on to the podium, no less), about twenty minutes out. It got the heat going in my quads so I hoped it would be good enough.

They had some fancy equipment at the race in the camera gear but no scoreboard, officials did the holding and a verbal countdown, and the timing was done by hand. As we raced, no one heard times. As each age group finished there would be a small break and then the results would be posted on a bulletin board under the judge’s stand. The official heading in that direction would start a mild stampede for the board and everyone would crowd in to see the results. When my age group came up, I was the fifth rider off. I felt like I nailed the start, railed the black line through turn one, and hunkered low in to the 15 mile an hour wind on the back straight. The track has great geometry and I was able to pin the line all the way around and felt like I was still accelerating at turn three as the wind began to catch my back. Lap one down and I was feeling great. Coming to sea level from 7000 feet has its advantages. I rolled the last lap hard, driving for the line and felt that little fade coming in to the last home straight. I made sure to drive all the way to the line plus a stroke and sat up. Now the waiting would start.

The age group below mine started and the results had not yet been posted. A small crowd milled around the bulletin board waiting for the official to walk up. When she headed that way a hoard headed up to greet her. I waited for several minutes, knowing that I could not change anything by rushing up. I got up to the board with just three guys there, all talking about how slow the times were. They were slow – mine was slower than my rather poor ride at nationals. But it was fast enough to be at the top of the list! I had a Pan Ams gold in the first event!

An hour later I stood on the podium, hand on my heart, while the red white and blue was hoisted to the sounds of our National Anthem. I sang it loud and proud, probably off key, but enjoyed the moment. I have some new stripes to add to my jerseys; one more set and I will be happy.

I zipped back to the hotel to change out my bars and my gearing to get ready for team pursuit qualifiers. We had assembled a true 55-59 team from around the country and were pleased with our chances when we arrived. For better or worse, the officials changed the rules a bit for the race. Per UCI rules, you race as a team at the age of the youngest guy in the group. It used to be done with the sum of ages but too many teams learned how to game that system by using a much stronger, younger pursuiter to pull the old guys around. Here, they decide to average the ages of the four riders. Oh my, let the games begin. Oh, and did I mention, it was to be a 4k pursuit, not the three that we do at Nationals in our age group? We held our own in the qualifiers, and managed a bronze medal, in the end. The gold and silver teams both had two guys in the 50-55 group and used them wisely; towing their 60+ guy long enough to be legal and then dropping him like a stone – only three have to finish.

I went back to the hotel that night with a new jersey, two medals, and a big old smile on my face. I slept fitfully, excited about the win, and looking forward to the next day.




Mike Nelson
Mike Nelson

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