Junior Track Cycling Velodrome cycling for junior (18 and under) riders

August 30, 2005

See “PRO” and meet Rodriguez, Sayers, Saunders

Filed under: Cycling,Hellyer — Administrator @ 8:20 am

For the San Francisco bay area only…

It is not track-specific, but this event supports a junior mountain bike league and it could be really fun. Those in our local age 10-14 program who got a water bottle signed by Freddie Rodriguez may get a chance to thank him in person. The press release is follows.

Movie screening benefits the NorCal High School Mountain Bike League

August 29th, 2005 (Berkeley, CA) Ė This week top professional cyclists are in town preparing for America’s toughest bike race, the Barclays Global Investors Grand Prix in San Francisco this coming Sunday. The start list includes Tour de France stars George Hincapie, Ivan Basso, and Freddie Rodriguez. Meanwhile, a handful of pro racers are going out of their way to support local junior bicycle racers at an exclusive screening of the feature film called ‘PRO,’ which documents the 2004 Wachovia US Pro Championship race and benefits the NorCal High School Mountain Bike League.

Pro athletes Freddie Rodriguez (Davitamin-Lotto), Michael Sayers (HealthNet-Maxxis), and Erik Saunders (Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada) will be greeting fans and signing autographs prior to this epic cycling film by Jamie Paolinetti. Amazing cinematography and candid interviews illuminate the psychology, strategy and team work that goes into winning a world class bicycle race.

Having already won the US Pro Championship twice, viewers gain insight to the mindset of ‘Fast’ Freddie Rodriguez. “I’ll hesitate taking the leadership and that’s because I’m scare. I’m scared of failing. But sometimes just by allowing yourself to get into that position you have to arise to the occasion.” Freddie says about his winning strategy, “It’s a gamble, there’s a certain risk involved with the way I race the event; at the same time it’s the only way I can assure myself of winning.”

Prior to the championship race, the contemplative Erik Saunders describes what he’s learned about racing. “I think being an experienced rider has a lot to do with knowing how good you’re not Ė more than knowing how good you are.” And on his own strategy Saunders says “The entire game plan is closing other peoples doors,” and expands upon his ‘door-closing’ philosophy.

We see Michael Sayers abandon the US Pro Championships after driving a breakaway for 108 miles of the 156-mile race. “We were in a tough spot because we definitely had good numbers up there, and it was a good break, but we had so far to go. . . but I think we did the professional thing; we put the team on the front and we drilled it.” For the HealthNet-Maxxis team, Michaels efforts have not been vain.

‘PRO’ is showing on Saturday, September 3rd, 7:00 PM at Wheeler Hall on the UC Berkeley Campus. Director Jamie Paolinetti will be introducing the film and answering the audiences questions afterwards. Tickets are just $10 and kids 15 and under admitted free. More info at www.norcalmtb.org or call (510) 325-6502. Advanced ticket purchase is recommended. Parking available at Milvia and Bancroft.

The Nor Cal High School Mountain Bike League is a non-profit organization open to students from both public and private schools. The league provides coaching and camaraderie to help students achieve both competitive and non-competitive cross-country mountain biking goals in a safe and enjoyable manner. The next season of events begins with a Coaches Training Conference in December, beginner riding camps in February, and the six-race series commencing in March. For more information and/or to organize an informational meeting in your town visit www.norcalmtb.org or call (510) 325-6502.

August 25, 2005

How Tough was that Pursuit Field?

Filed under: Cycling — Administrator @ 4:56 pm

Bike geek time. I was musing about questions like “how hard was it to get a top placing at worlds this year, compared to last?” and “how much tougher was Worlds than Nationals?” Since I understand more from a graph than from words or raw numbers, I decided to do a little graphing in Excel. The event names are abbreviated, but they refer to championships of the world, nations, or regions as indicated.

I could go on about the shape of the curves, but if you like these things you’ll probably figure out what you want to know. If not, you have already stopped reading by now. Be sure to click to see a larger, easier-to-read image.

Rank in the event versus time for the Men's Individual Pursuit
Rank in the event versus time for the Men's Individual Pursuit

One disclaimer: if these events were run with the same riders on fairly close dates, the graphs might be a good indicator of which tracks are fastest. In fact, I believe that the quality of the field is the biggest difference between the graphs you see here. Still, track speed and other factors could matter, and I haven’t made any corrections for that.

Wednesday Night at Hellyer

Filed under: Cycling,Hellyer — Administrator @ 8:43 am

Just another Wednesday night, but I got a picture of 3 juniors together in one of the races (B/C Scratch?) so here it is:

Juniors Joel Shaffer, Matt Abdullah, and JP LeClair
Juniors Joel Shaffer, Matt Abdullah, and JP LeClair

August 23, 2005

Junior-sized Track Bikes

Filed under: Cycling,New Rider Info — Administrator @ 6:33 pm

Okay, I’m not talking about those 6-foot tall 190 pound juniors in the 17-18 group. This is for the little ones. It’s is also both a question and a very partial answer.

The question is, who makes track bikes in smaller sizes? I’m especially interested in lower-cost bikes which might be appropriate for rental bikes at a velodrome or for juniors on a budget. Still, I don’t want to exclude any builder with expertise in building track bikes for smaller riders.

Please, if you can recommend other sources of small track bikes, let me know and I’ll update this article. What I have so far is listed below.

Maker Smallest size Comments
Bianchi 49cm Not the smallest, but another good value.
Cannondale 48cm I saw a few at Nationals, but I’m not sure they are currently offered.
Cinelli Olympic 46cm
De Bernardi Thron 47cm
Fuji 43cm Around $500. These seem to be a good value.
Ganwell Pro 49cm
HH Racing Group 16″ wheels and up I have seen a number of T-Town riders with these
Louis Garneau 44cm
Nessuno 48cm
Pinarello 48cm
Rock Lobster custom I don’t know how small a bike he’ll make, but I have to mention my favorite builder.
Taylor Bicycles custom They don’t advertise track bikes, but I have seen at least one.
Leader 51cm Note that the size given is the seat tube length. It’s 47cm center-to-center, and has a longish 53cm top tube.
Ionut Cycles custom See the comment posted by Alex Ionut

One suggestion: patronize your local custom bike builders. One of the things they do best is design bikes for people who do not fit well on mass-market frames. You can ask about custom frames at local shops. For track-specific ideas, visit your velodrome and talk to riders (of all sizes) who have frames with names you don’t recognize. Not every builder wants to deal with extremely small sizes, but you will probably come up with several names worth calling. NEW: See my custom frames article for some builders I know have experience with track bikes and who are willing to build small ones.

August 19, 2005

Kim Geist Worlds Diary – August 16, Road Wrapup

Filed under: Cycling,Diary - Geist,Junior Worlds — Administrator @ 11:12 pm


I am writing this last bit from the comfort of home. Yesterday was an extremely long and tiring travel day, complete with many mix-ups and delays on the flights coming back to the USA. However, these set backs didnít really bother me too much because I was on a bit of a high coming off of a good result from the road race two days ago, in Austria.

Although I was not expecting much from myself in a hilly road race, I figured I would lay it all on the line and hold nothing back since it was the last race of the championships. Many of the other girls must have felt this same way because the riding was very aggressive. In many ways, the race reminded me of riding the Wachovia Liberty Classic this year in Philadelphia. I have to really thank my team, Victory Brewing, for giving me the opportunity to race in Philly because I think that experience really let me remain calm and let me concentrate on really riding the race smart. Instead of panicking when the group rolled away from me a little on the larger climbs, I was able to fall into my own rhythm, grab a wheel, never push into the wind, and easily rejoin the group. And, I was comfortable taking the bumps and unkind words in other languages that were abundant in the middle of the group.

Again, the race reminded me of the European racing, as seen on TV. When a median strip came up in the road, there was an official standing in it complete with whistle and flag, warning the riders of the hazards. Usually, though, there was at least a couple girls who ran into it in some way or another; half the battle of the race was staying upright and on the road. Many times girls would drop chains up the steep climbs or get pushed into the gravel on the side of the road, and this made the race all the more challenging. The only really close call I had, though, was on the steepest climb on the last lap when an Austrian rider dropped her chain in front of me and had to put a foot down. She was very close to the right side barrier. I tried to squeeze by with some speed but ended up putting my shoulder smack into hers when I rode by, thus causing me to loose a bit of balance. I ended up coming to stop, although still clipped in, holding the barrier to my right side. After a taking a second to realize what just happened, I gave myself a mighty push and turned over the gear to get rolling again on the uphill. I fortunately grabbed a wheel over the top of the climb and rejoined the group once again on the other side. On these climbs, and even the backside of the course in the woods, there were a lot of spectators that were very supportive. The other thing that reminded me I was in Europe was when a spectator ran alongside of the group, shouting words of encouragement, when we were riding uphill. I was disappointed when they didnít offer a friendly push, though.

So, to keep a long story short, I survived the race until the last lap when I moved straight to the front under the one-kilometer-to-go banner. I was surprised, when I got there, to find there was really no organization by the teams with four or five girls still left in the selective group that remained as the main field. The only lead out that seemed to be in the works was with Australia. Amanda Spratt, also from the track, had one teammate working for her. So, I pushed my way onto her wheel and took it for the ride. Her teammate left her hung out to dry way too early, with at least 700 meters still to ride. I kept right on her hip, even through some other girlís handlebars being pushed into my own hip. Right when I saw the 300 meter sign, I could feel the rush around the outside begin to close in, so I knew that the time to go was then, or I would fall subject to the wave of riders already sprinting toward the line. I took off, in my biggest gear, and almost held it to the line. The Lithuanian rider nipped me in a photo finish. There were two girls that snuck off the front in the closing couple of kilometers in a counter-attack to a larger group that went off in the beginning of the last lap. So, I finished in fourth place, four seconds behind the two leaders. I was ecstatic with the result. Although, now that it has sunk in, I really wish my throw of the bike at the line would have been enough to hold on for another medal. But, fourth place is pretty good for a trackie on one hilly course with 84 of the best road riders in the world.

Shannon finished the race a little further back, having gotten caught behind a gap caused by some slow climbers on the third lap, which was one of the hardest out of the five. In the guyís race, Chris was the top finisher in 29th place. Tejay also finished the race in 96th. They suffered through nine laps of the tough course and rode strongly to finish it out. Now that itís all over, everyone is enjoying bad-for-you food and all the things we have refrained from indulging in leading up to this block of racing. I am glad to be back home, but enjoyed myself in Austria and would easily take another opportunity to travel to Europe, again.


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