2007 Collegiate Track Nationals Video

Download Quicktime Movie

Above is a video I put together documenting the 2007 Collegiate Track Nationals. I put this race together over the last 10 months (along with a great deal of help from others, especially Chris Nekarda). Held at the San Diego Velodrome, over 100 collegiate cyclists from around the country competed over three days. My team, UCSD, did quite well, and at least one UCSD rider was on every podium.

Some notes: If I had planned my video a bit more before the event, I could have had done a better job (imagine that!). In particular, a few of my teammates are under-represented in the video, which was purely accidental. I would have liked to have a more even coverage of everyone.

More notes: I would have uploaded the video to YouTube, but there are too many copyrighted songs that would be blocked.

I hope you enjoy the movie. Thanks to Chris Schroeder for letting me borrow his DV video camera, and Chris Nekarda for a few still photographs in the movie.

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Looking Fast

Leader Track Bike

As you can see above, my bike looks fast! I just hope that looking fast will make me fast.

I finally have my Pro-Lite wheels on my track bike. The rear wheel has an interchangeable hub for road and track setups. It came with the road hub installed, and it was supposed to have come with the track hub part in the box. It didn't. It also didn't come with the front wheel skewer, and brake pads, which it should have. I am borrowing the missing parts for the the next week so I can actually ride my wheels.

Speaking of nice bike stuff, take a look at Anna Lang's new ride below. Her sponsors are having her ride a $9,000 Look 496 Track Frame, which is just plain crazy. She's a graduate student like me, so that's a large portion of her yearly income. There's no way she would be riding it on her own means. Here's an article about this unique frame.

Leader Track Bike

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Leader Track Bike

Leader Bike

Yesterday I got the replacement frame for my Broken Fuji track frame. I got an aluminum LD 735TR 61cm track frame and carbon fork for a very reasonable price, especially considering how short notice it was. I have several friends who are riding Leader frames and they are happy with them. Happily, this new bike has considerably less red than the Fuji.

If you look at the full size image (by clicking on the image above), you'll see that I've placed a piece of an old tube around the top tube using two green zip ties. This is there to protect the top tube from the handlebars, which tend to whack the top tube. Regular bikes don't need this as brake and shifter cables help dampen the handlebar swinging motion.

When I put my Pro-Lite carbon disc rear and aero front wheels (which should arrive soon!) on this black frame, it will look awesome! And that's what counts.

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Broken Fuji

Fuji Crack

Almost a year ago, during my return trip from Indianapolis, my 2005 Fuji Track Pro was dented due to the TSA improperly re-packing my bike box after inspecting it. I managed to parlay this into an almost $1000 check from the TSA after documenting their liability quite thoroughly.

The bike wasn't actually fatally damaged. It still rode true and there weren't any cracks, just a dent. Aluminum tubes are strong enough to use as long as they aren't creased with sharp edges (this is what I have been told). For the last five months I've been riding my Fuji with a dent in the downtube with no problems -- until now. Now, I'm afraid, the bike has made it's last lap of a velodrome. Yesterday I found that the dent has turned into a crack that you can see. The crack starts in the dent and works around the bottom of the tube to the other side.

In my Fuji's lifetime it has seen four velodromes: San Diego, Hellyer in San Jose, Northbrook in Chicago and Major Taylor in Indianapolis. My cyclometer has 2850 km on it, which works out to 1770 mi. Most of my time has been in San Diego, which is a 333 meter track. Major Taylor is also 333m, while Hellyer and and Northbrook are slightly longer. I'll simply use a 333 meter lap. That odometer distance gives 6800 laps. I'm sure the actual number is quite different than that, but you get the idea. 6800 laps is a bunch of going fast, and turning left. And not forgetting to pedal.

Goodbye good friend!

Now I need to find a new frame, soon. Hopefully the new one won't have any red on it, my one dislike of the Fuji. When that's all sorted out I'll post a picture of my new single speed steed.

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Madison Madness

I've been riding bikes for so long that it's unusual that I learn something new. The last couple weeks I've started learning how to do the madison, easily the most insane event on the track. The madison, named after the arena in New York City, is a team event with two riders per team. One rider is racing, while one rests. In the multi-day race events, often one rider will ride for hours, and then switch off to the other teammate.

Madison

In shorter events, both riders are on the velodrome at once. The one who is resting either rides very slowly or holds onto the railing. When the racing team member wishes to be relieved, usually after a lap or two, the resting rider meets the racer, and they exchange momentum via a hand-sling.

Madison

The thing that makes this event so darned exciting is the sheer number of things going on at once. Firstly, of course, there's a race going on. Then, you've got riders coming in & out of the event. Sometimes multiple riders are coming into the race at the same time, so positioning and timing is very important. Since it is a race where you're only going one or two laps, essentially a racer goes nearly all out, followed by a short rest.

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Bike RV

Bike RV

Bike RV

Bike RV

Here are some photos of a "Bike RV" that my father took in Northern California a few days ago. Notice in the middle photograph that there are at least three derailleurs! Here's what my father wrote:

Found parked alongside US101 on the way to Eureka. He lives in it, has pedalled it all around the US, has been doing this for years. The vehicle weighs 600 lbs or so. The panel above the seat is just a sun/rain shade, not a solar panel. The mechanical details were nicely done but I think the aerodynamics could be improved. On the other hand it's geared low and likely never goes very fast. Small bike wheel in front, fat rubber-tired go-kart wheel in back. I didn't look to see what kind of brakes. All in all it's pretty amazing that the guy could live in and pedal the thing around. I talked to him a bit, and as you might guess he seemed mildly unhinged.

My question is how does he get the thing started? Getting 600 pounds moving is no small task. And going uphill? He appears to have at least three levels of down-gearing. How does he go fast enough to not fall over? Maybe he has to spin the pedals at 120 RPM to even go anywhere. I also don't think the sun/rain shade could be that effective. To me, if I wanted to protect myself against the elements, I would get some kind of acryllic shell to go over the rider's position. It would also be much more aero.

Maybe I'm just more sane that this guy, but if I were to do this sort of thing, I'd get a bike trailer to load all my stuff behind a normal bike. Then I could ride a normal unhindered bike if I wished, leaving the trailer at the campsite. I'd have to sleep in a tent, but that's okay.

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Cal Poly Pomona

Epic: Surpassing the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size; Heroic and impressive in quality.
From Dictonary.com.

It's amazing this drug called cycling. The forecast for this weekend foretold homeric conditions -- wind, rain, and even snow or hail. I knew what was in store for me, and I raced anyway. But now, I can brag that I raced up a hill as fast as I could go, in the frickin' snow! Can you say that? That's right, you can't. Well maybe you can, but probably not.

There's not much to say about a ~15 minute effort up a hill except that if I did the climb again, I could do it at least thirty seconds faster. I did scout the climb in the car before the race, but the finish line was moved about 1/2 mile farther up the road, so I had no idea quite where to do a "finishing effort." I'm not saying I wasn't hurting, but I could have hurt more, especially more intelligently. At this moment I'm not sure of my finishing order, I think it was sixth or seventh.

Tour de France

What I'll remember about this race was the fact that the weather was terrible. It rained on us while we were preparing & warming up. We luckily had a pop-up tent that covered us, but not completely. The wind was strong enough for the rain to come in the sides at times. Going up the hill, only a few minutes into my race it started snowing. And I mean for real snowing, something this city-boy from coastal California doesn't often see. The visibility went down to roughly 100 feet. Luckily for my traction the snow wasn't sticking to the ground, but for most the climb there was snow from overnight storms on the trees and hillsides.

Right about when I crossed the finish line, the snow stopped falling and the view was incredible. The climb raised us over 300 meters above the valley floor, so there was quite a view. Even though I was rapidly getting cold, I pedaled up the road a bit farther just to see what there was to see. If it wasn't two hours away across the expanse of L.A. suburbs, I would like to climb this road again, but perhaps when it's a bit warmer.

Tour de France

Zapp Brannigan: Kif, I have the captain's itch.
Kif: I'll get the powder sir.
Zapp Brannigan: No, the itch for adventure!

Before the parking lot crit on Sunday, Chris Nekarda and I rode through the Cal Poly Pomona campus to open our legs up a bit and discuss the tatics for the race. We decided that Chris would go for all the primes except the first one, while I would see what I could do if people were feeling frisky.

From the gun a UCSB rider took off and his two teammates were in the front blocking. After a couple laps I bridged up to the UCSB rider and we worked well together, holding off the peloton. As the first prime came, Steve Sperling from UCSC went for the third place prime points and manged to get away from the pack, and bridged up to us. For the next fifteen laps or so, we traded off pulling, but it was clear that the UCSB rider was suffering more than Steve or I. Mainly through a series of hard pulls Steve and I dropped the UCSB rider.

In the closing laps we could see we were close to lapping the field, which is something I've always wanted to do (I'm sure Steve wanted to do it too). With four laps to go I took the sketchy turn a bit too hot and slipped onto my left side. I wasn't hurt badly, and I could have jumped right up and rejoined Steve, but I dropped my chain and that took some precious seconds to fix. By the time I got my chain fixed and was rolling again, I was in third place as the UCSB rider had passed me. However, he was hurting more than me and over the next four laps I caught him and passed him. I didn't even have to attack him to keep him off my wheel as I went by him.

Second place isn't as nice as first place, of course, but I'll take it. It was cool to attack the field and have some genuine race tatics happen behind us, as all of our teammates blocked for us. It wasn't so cool to crash myself out, losing the possibility at first place. It was cool to get back up again, catch and pass the UCSB rider to reclaim the second spot I had earned before my crash.

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UCSB Road Races

After my less than stellar performance at the UCLA road race three weeks ago, I was determined to regain at least some endurance. Combined with being healthy, riding lots, and doing Swami's the two weekends between races has brought me a bit of form, I think. I'm at least encouraged by this weekends results.

It was an inauspicious beginning to my weekend when I missed the start for my Mens Bs criterium on Saturday morning. It's not completely my fault -- the UCSB announcer said that the races were starting 10 minutes late during the first race. However, subsequent races, including mine, were brought back on schedule. No one bothered to let the people know in the parking lot that was out of ear- and eye-shot of the course. But I should know better than to believe what someone unofficial says.

Anyway, I rolled up to the start line about 10 seconds late, saw the pack sprint off, and did my best to chase them down. I looked at my heart rate monitor, and I did about four laps chasing at about 187 b.p.m., which is not a pace I can hold for very long. I never caught the pack and I was pulled. What I should have done was concede defeat and entered the pack on the backside -- away from where the officials could pull me. So many rookie mistakes in such a short period!

Redemption for the day would have to be in the 4/5 UCSF crit, which I quickly signed up for after I left the Mens Bs race. Between races I ate lunch and took a bunch of pictures, some of which came out nicely. I still need to learn how to take good photographs of a moving subject with a telephoto lens.

Isla Vista

It's interesting that my tracks are offset slightly to the west. I think it's Google Earth's mistake, not my GPS. The track in red is mainly triangles because the GPS only stores positions every few seconds, and so straight lines are drawn across the course. I also think that trees affected my GPS differentially around the course.

The 4/5 crit was my first USCF race in about three years. In that time I've become a much better racer in terms of fitness and skill. I was definitely sketched out by other riders during this race, but perhaps the velodrome has spoiled me. I started in the far back, a bad place to be, so I spent the first few laps moving up as aggressively as possible. I spent most of the rest of race in the top twenty, staying out of trouble. A few times a couple of the local teams tried to get a break off -- and they all were brought back. I thought I saw one I liked with about 8 minutes to go (the race was timed) so I chased it down. I liked it because it had five guys in it, two of which from the same team (some local team). That team also had two guys at the front ready to do some blocking. When I got to the group I yelled "Hey you guys. There are two of you. You need to work. You've got blocking in the peleton, work!" They spent about 1/2 a lap with their thumbs up their rears while I jabbered at them. We almost got a rotation going, but the pack caught us.

The remainder of the race I just basically tried to keep too many people from passing me, and managed to stay up near the front pretty well. Jon Lim, also of UCSD, made an ill-advised attack with one lap to go, but besides that it was a straight shot into the final laps. I sprinted for the line on the inside, which had some unfortunate bumps in the pavement from tree roots. I think the bumps disrupted me enough that I fell from lofty 7th place to 8th place. It's a decent result considering the pack size was over 60, and I managed to stay away from the three or so crashes.

The highlight from the rest of day was my experience in the Jack in the Box on Main St. in Santa Maria, down the block from our hotel. We got to the hotel too early for dinner, but I was hungry, so I wanted a milkshake. While I waited for it to be brought out, I surveyed the makeup of customers in the restaurant. Besides the largely harmless Latino families, there were three mangy white men. The first was a homeless man, who seemed a bit drunk, who haggled with the cashier seeing what he could get for two bucks. The second guy was dead-on for Richard Kiel (except in height), the guy in Happy Gilmore with the shirt that says, "Guns don't kill people, I kill people." And the third white guy had two baseball caps on, one on top of the other with both hats on forwards. The top one said "Jesus Bless You." I guess he didn't want his head to touch his holy hat, or something.

Sourdine

That night at the hotel, we learned what sourdine means. Just ask Zack. We also watched Smokey and the Bandit on the Country Music Channel. That was probably the most time I've ever spent watching that channel. Breaker one, breaker one has entered my vocabulary.

Sunday was the Santa Maria road race. On Friday before I got in the car, I spent some time looking at the race course using Google Earth, tracing the altitudes at various points along the course. I wanted to have a good idea of the course before I rode it. I didn't realize until about 10 minutes into the race that I had already done this race course before, four years earlier.

There were five of us from UCSD starting the road race, Chris Nekarda, Dickson Fong, Byron Ho, myself and, new to the team but not collegiate racing, Brian Clement. We didn't really have a plan other than to go the first three or four laps (of a total six) and see where we stood. Each lap was eleven miles long, with a headwind section up a false flat, a two-minute climb, a fast descent with long sight lines, and a drop-your-chain dip and rise.

The first few laps were fairly unremarkable except for the breaks that tried to get off. I mostly ignored them, guessing (correctly) that they would be brought back in due time. There was one break I decided to chase down steady enough to bring the whole pack with me, because I didn't want a break to go off then. If it did go I would have to be in it, and I didn't want to be in a break. It was also the best time to chase a break down, on the main hill, where effort and speed are more linearly related.

On lap three or so, as I was going up the climb I saw Brian slipping backwards through the pack. I said casually "how's it going?" and he replied "horribly." It seems his crash from the day before hurt his back enough that he couldn't put out enough power to get up the hill. On lap four, I think, Chris Nekarda crossed wheels and crashed, not badly, but badly enough to not make it back into the pack. Byron and Dickson had simply fallen off the pace along the way, leaving me all by my lonesome, the sole UCSD survivor. So much for the two laps to go UCSD team strategy meeting.

The last lap and a half before the climb were pretty darned lazy, as everyone had figured out that the last climb would be the place where the fireworks went off. In fact, lap four took only 28 minutes, while lap five took 35 minutes. The average lap took a little under 31 minutes.

I made the mistake of being at the back of the pack going into the main climb. This meant that during the main climb, while I was weaving my way between riders going backwards, two riders snuck off the front, from Cal Tech and Stanford. By the time I got to the front group, I didn't realize there were riders away until it was too late to chase them down. Rob Dahl (from Berkeley) and I gave it a shot and got a gap on the field, but it was clear we wouldn't be able to chase down the pair. Going into the finish line I stayed at the back of the small pack (about 12 guys) and recovered for the sprint. I knew that the finish line was at a left turn lane, so if I stayed on the left side of the road, new space would open up for me to go through during the sprint.

The sprint was very fast, almost 70 kph, because it was at the bottom of a descent. I managed to weave my way up and got third in the field sprint, for fifth overall. This is a much better result than three weeks ago. Of course, the two courses are very different, but I felt completely different in these two races. Before I just simply got dropped. This race, I was going by people getting dropped and I had more to give. Yay me!

The main thing about this course is it offers ample recovery time, if you're in the pack. Looking at my HR data below (my HR monitior didn't mess up once during this race! Huzzah!), even as late as the sixth lap, I was dropping below zone 1, which I consider a great recovery HR. Also, all my forays into the pain box were short, meaning my legs were relatively fresh for the final climb & sprint at the end.

Heart Rate

The highlight of the trip back was a stop in a Ventura sandwich and burger joint that Zack directed us to. There really is something they put in the water in Ventura, at least for the waitresses there.

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UCLA Road Race

On Sunday, February 12, I raced the 2006 UCLA Road Race held in the Mojave desert, northeast of Los Angeles. Two years ago I got third in this event (in Mens Bs), but this time, I had no such luck. Unfortunately, prior to this race, it had been probably three weeks since I went for a ride as long as the race, due to sickness & other distractions. I simply don't have the endurance right now that I need to have. I ended up getting dropped a couple times, chasing back on, but finally getting dropped for good and doing the final lap alone. I got 20th place, which wasn't last place, but it is a regression from the 3rd I got before.

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Palomar Mountain

A week ago Tyler Ofstad and I rode up Palomar Mountain, twice. Starting at the corner of Valley Center Road and CA 76, at the mexican restaurant there, we climbed up 76 to South Grade Road. At the top, we descended down East Grade Road, and rode 76 a bit south for another climb on Mesa Grande. At the top of that we turned around and went back the way we came. The total climbing came out to over 2,500 meters, or about 8,300 feet. The only time I have climbed more than this was at the Everest Challenge, which has 15,465 and 13,570 feet of climbing in its two days.

Palomar Mountain is a popular destination for Southern California cyclists, as well as for motorcyclists, who roar up and down the mountain on any dry day. The constant buzzing of motorcycles gets a bit old over the course of South Grade Road. Thankfully, motorcyclists don't drive so much on East Grade Road, due to its near lack of hairpin turns. Mesa Grande is a short and steep; it climbs about 250 meters in about 2 kilometers.

If you look closely at the elevation versus distance graph below, you'll see sharp, jagged edges on the descents. This is due to trees blocking the signal to my GPS, degrading its 3D resolution. 2D degrades much less in trees, so the GPS measures my distance, but doesn't update my altitude. I'm moving so fast decending that by the time the 3D resolution comes back, I've dropped a fair amount.

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Cycling Track Nats Addendum

A few more things to add to my post from yesterday about Track Nationals.

Here are some photos I took at Nationals that I posted on the UCSD Cycling website. Photos another rider took which are actually very decent and have a surprisingly large number of photos of UCSD. I don't actually know who took them, but thank you! (Update: They were taken by Steve McFarland of Tufts.)

Choice quotes from the weekend:

"Are you too good for your home?" -- A slightly delirious Ashley trying to fit her rollers in a bag.

"I don't wanna be a cowboy." -- Stephen before both points races (copying Joe Merlone, who probably copied it from someone else).

"Awesome!" -- What Ashley yelled at me almost every lap of the points race final.

I'll edit this entry when I think of more!

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Track Nationals

I just returned from Chicago where I participated in my first national-level cycling competition. It was the 2005 NCCA Championships held at the Northbrook Velodrome (Google Maps), in Northbrook, a leafy suburb Northwest of Chicago. I participated as member of the UCSD Cycling Team.

My goals for the event were fairly modest because of my relative lack of track racing experience. My two individual events were the 3 kilometer pursuit and the points race. The 3k pursuit is a time trial, from a standing start. Alone you try to ride the distance as fast as possible. It's comparable to running a mile in terms of duration. If you go too fast in the beginning you'll be suffering at the end. It's about metering out your effort such that just as you cross the finish line you are at your breaking point. Two weeks ago I raced in San Jose and did a 4:06 pursuit, so my goal at nationals was to simply get below 4 minutes.

The points race is something like a criterium on the road, but usually much more brutal. Every five laps there is a sprint, and only the first four riders across the finish line get points. The field size is usually over 20 so obviously people go very fast for sprints. Each sprint, including the final, is worth the same points: 5,3,2 and 1 point(s) for first, second, third and fourth. The rider with the most points at the end wins. I have raced a bunch of points races this summer locally, and it was my best event, so I was looking forward to it.

I also raced in two team events, the Italian Pursuit and the Team Pursuit. The Team Pursuit is a four man, 4 kilometer race to the fastest time. Each rider takes turns at the front where riding is most difficult. The other three sit in the draft and work significantly less hard. Time is taken when the third man crosses the finish line, meaning only one of the riders can drop out of the race (usually because of exhaustion).

The Italian Pursuit is an interesting race because it's the only race with both genders. There is a minimum of three riders and a maximum of six. One rider has to be female and there can be no more than four males. Each rider leads the group for a lap, or two, and then leaves the race. The next teammate then does the wind-cutting duties until they leave. Time is taken when the last rider crosses the line for six laps. And a woman has to lead for two of those six laps (but it doesn't have to be the same woman). You can see that if a team has less than six riders, someone is going to go for two laps.

The team had a goal of reaching the podium on team rankings, meaning top five of all the teams. The way team rankings work is every race gives team points to each team based on how well their member raced. All the races and all the team points are added up together and the team omnium is decided. We wanted to be one of the five best teams. The team events I outlined in the previous paragraph are very important in the team omnium.

The racing was held for three days, September 29 to October 1, with a morning session at 9 am and an evening session at 6 pm both days. But you need to realize that for each session racers need to show up at least an hour before the start and often leave half an hour after the end of each session. I & my team were getting up at six each morning and retiring after 11 pm, which makes for very long days.

Did I meet my goals? I think I did. I raced a 3:59.4 pursuit. Of course I had aero wheels & an aero helmet, unlike in San Jose, which certainly helped. But it was still me pushing the pedals so I was happy. That time put me in 20th place (out of ~40 riders), which is the lowest place that gives team points, and that is what I was hoping for.

The points races were on the final day. Because so many men signed up for the points race, there were two qualifying races in the morning, and the best 13 of each would advance to the final in the evening. By the third day of racing I had developed a sore throat and persistent congestion, making everything unhappy. Leading up to the qualifying race I was very anxious about my ability to race in my condition, but I raced anyway.

The qualifying race was 45 laps, or about 17 kilometers (on a 383 meter track). Let me point out that the longest points race I had ever done up to that point was 45 laps here in San Diego, on a 333 meter track, or 15 kilometers. Luckily for me, despite my condition, I was still able to read a race. I guessed that the large rider in front of me (~6'-4") was about to make a dash for the sprint with about a lap and a half to go. Thinking that such a big guy makes a nice draft, I grabbed his wheel (figuratively), and sure enough, he went. After he pulled me around for a lap I went around him and ended up taking third on that sprint. It turned out that those two points were enough to advance me into the final.

The final was 75 laps, or nearly 29 kilometers. After racing the longest points race of my life in the morning, I raced one 77% longer 10 hours later. At this rate I'll be doing double century points races. Ouch.

Because I knew that with my sickness I was under full strength, my goal for the points race was to not get dropped and sprint for high placing in the final sprint. The finishing order in a points race is ranked by those who have points first, and then by finishing order. I knew that if I went for points during the race I would get dropped after the huge effort, so I had to save up for the end and get ahead of other guys without sprint points.

My plan worked pretty well because I got lucky, twice. With four laps to go a rider crashed in front of me. He was sliding from my left to my right with one foot still attached to his bike, and his bike was in front of him in the slide (imagine the bike is dragging him by his right foot up the banking of the track). In the microseconds I had to make a choice I aimed for that leg thinking it would be a better target than his body or his bike. Just as I was about to hit his ankle his foot separated from his bike and I went right between. The officials shot the gun twice to halt the race while the crashers were taken off the track, and during the lull in action I advanced about 20 places in the pack and settled in at about 6th or 7th place. When racing resumed I just had to hold on for four laps and sprint hard for the line, where I eventually placed 20th after the orderings were worked out.

If you had asked me the morning of the points races if I would even advance to the final, I would have been doubtful. I'm happy I pushed through my discomfort and did respectably. Now I want to come back and do the race healthy. I think I could do some damage if I was healthy!

The Italian Pursuit was a very successful race for our team. The way qualifying works in this event is the teams race in the morning alone for a qualifying time. Then, the two fastest teams face each other on the track at the same time in the evening for the gold and silver medal, and the 3rd and 4th for bronze. All the teams 5th and lower in qualifying are given that place in the final rankings. This means often your hardest effort is in the qualifying because you are guaranteed certain placing after that. We rode a very good race and qualified second.

In the final we raced a very skilled team from Penn State, which had no fewer than three "ringers," people I who I consider more bike racer than college student. Two of them only register in the fall to race at collegiate nationals. One of them I know for a fact spent most of last year in Australia racing, which is a goodly distance from Pennsylvania. This is to basically point out that we knew we had no chance of beating Penn State in the final, so we didn't race quite as hard as the qualifying race. Additionally, one of our members, Tona, was doing other races during the same session, so we wanted to keep him from over exerting himself. But we were very happy with second, especially because everyone on our team earned the second place.

The Mens Team Pursuit had a similar qualifying system, and we qualified fifth. We raced a very good, disciplined race -- something I'm proud of. Looking back I think we could have gone a bit faster and qualified fourth (0.6 seconds away), and that's something to remember next time we do that race. Qualifying fifth was a good and a bad thing. It was good because it meant we didn't have to race again (this was the same day as the points races), but it was bad because fifth isn't nearly as nice as fourth. We were in a tight battle for second place in the team omnium with Marian College and every little placing mattered.

Speaking of the team omnium, we ended up the weekend in third place overall, behind Penn State and Marian College. After Penn State, we had the most talented riders. Marian had over twice as many racers as UCSD, but beat us 800 points to our 792, a 1% difference. Marian also has cycling scholarships and a velodrome on their campus. They beat us with quantity over quality. This was the first year for UCSD going to Track Nats as a team, and we really made an impression around the country (well, to those who pay attention to Collegiate Track Cycling).

It was a grand adventure and really taught me about how hard I can push myself. Now I want more!

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Funky Bike Mount

The Garmin 301 Forerunner, which I've mentioned before on this site comes with a velcro wrist band. Which is great for running but when I cycle I prefer to have nothing on my wrist. Whatever I have on my wrist tends to slide down and rest against the top of my hand (because my wrist is bent upwards holding the handlebars). The skin then gets pinched whenever I go over a bump -- which is often.

But my anal-retentiveness doesn't stop there! Simply putting the unit on the handlebars wouldn't suffice. I prefer to have nothing at all on the handlebars because I shift my grip over the entire width of the bars. I wanted the unit front and center, where it belongs, anyway. I knew I had to be creative!

I have faced this problem before mounting a Polar HR unit in front of the handle bars. That time I built an aluminum mount that was wedged between the stem and faceplate. That has since broken (it wasn't the best design anyway). I wanted something similar.

So here it is, a funky bike mount:

GPS Mount

I used a Polar HR mount with a piece of PVC pipe stuck inside of it. I then used four zip ties (two in tandem at a time) to attach the mount over and under the handlebars and around the stem. I also used some pieces of rubber to make the whole arrangement thicker so the watch band would be tight. Luckily for me there was a small hole between the polar mount and the front of the stem where I could fit a band:

GPS Mount

The 301 uses the normal wristwatch style attachment with the pins, so I just bought a cheap drug store plastic band a cut down one side so it could fit through the hole pictured above. You can see that the band has been slimmed:

GPS Mount

The mount isn't the most steady -- the unit does shake. But I think it's pretty sturdy and I'm confident that my gadget won't go flying.

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Garmin Forerunner 301 & Mac OS X

I recently bought a Garmin 301 Forerunner, a nifty wrist-sized GPS unit with a heart rate monitor. The premise is pretty cool -- I can see my heart rate next to the elevation profile of my route, along with an interactive map showing exactly where I went (once I upload the data to a computer, of course). I've been without any kind heart rate or cyclometer for almost 6 months since my old Polar S510 decided to croak. Apparently my sweat is so caustic that I rusted one of the buttons stuck and I lost some functionality. Then the battery died. A perfect excuse to upgrade, right?

Even before I bought the 301, I knew that it would have some problems. Specifically, Garmin is one of those block-headed companies that refuses to acknowledge Mac owners as more powerful than their market share suggests. We spend more money and buy more gadgets than Windozes people; see the iPod. I purchased the 301 anyway; I have an unconditional satisfaction guarantee with REI in case I give up on this project.

My hope was to to be able to use the 301 with a Windows Virtualization Software. This is one of the first GPSes to use USB, rather than the antiquated serial that manufacturers still cling to. So I figured it may just work with VPC. However, no luck. It seems like it almost works -- when I plug the GPS in Win XP recognizes the device and loads the Garmin USB GPS driver. The GPS shows up correctly in the device profile. I can install the Garmin software perfectly too. However, the Garmin software refuses to connect to the GPS. Very frustrating.

I verifed how it should work by using a regular PC, and I had no problems. Both the Garmin and MotionBased software works.

MotionBased is also annoying. The upload program is only Windows. The main interface is entirely web-based, but has poor Mac support. It makes Safari crash and I have had middling success using IE or Firefox. They have a free account option with limited functionality, and for $100/year the full suite of analyses. It's unlikely I'll be shelling out any money to them until they improve Mac support.

Right now I'm leaning to keeping the 301. I have enough access to Windoze machines to be able to use it. But I'll keep it begrudingly. Garmin is a big enough company to put some time into Mac OS X.

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UCI Track Worlds

Last weekend I attended the UCI Track World Championships in Carson, CA (basically LA). It was awesome. It's amazing seeing such good riders because they make going fast look easy. When I'm going hard (which doesn't equate to fast) I don't look good, not like these riders. Of course, I took photos. Highlights:

ADT Panorama

A not very clean panorama, but it gives you the general idea. The turns have a banking of 45 degrees. The track is 250 meters at the sprint (black) line. The track is made out of special siberian pine – so special that the whole arena is at a positive air pressure with constant temperature and humidity. There are about 6000 seats. It is by far the best facility in the United States. More Info.

Chris, Tona and Megan. Megan flew out from Colorado to spend her spring break with us dorks in San Diego

The Madison was insane!

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