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Saturday, July 17, 2010

A typical summer race meet at Kissena Velodrome


Registration:
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Training during the year to prepare for the racing season can all be ruined by forgetting to do some important pre-race day and race day preparations. I usually use a check list to get my short term preparations in order. To race at Kissena Track one has to pre-register online at Bikereg.com. This step can be easily forgotten and you could be out of luck come race day. I usually place a reminder in my phone the day before and of course keep an eye on the weather for rain, no racing takes place in the rain. Online registration is also required for the weekly Wednesday evening races, you can register for the whole season or you can register for individual Wednesdays. Keep in mind there are always about four Wednesdays per year, which are rained out due to cyclical weather patterns. Also it would be unwise to register for the whole season if you have a work or school schedule which does not guarantee you time to race every Wednesday evening.
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Get Bicycle Ready:
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I usually go through a routine the day before where I get the bicycle ready. I make sure my warm up gear is on, tires are pumped up, all nuts and bolts are tightened. Bumpy Kissena track has a tendency of loosening your nuts and also bruising them – pun intended. So make sure you use chamois cream on the tender parts and also make sure your chain is clean and lubed. In the case of a Keirin type chain which does not have a master link, but instead a nut and bolt – make sure this nut and bolt is tight. When the chain is new the nut and bolt has a tendency to loosen. Make sure your wheels are on tightly but be careful to not over torque when tightening wheels to frame, you can easily shear the spindle. Finally make sure the bicycle is clean and free of dirt, you don’t want any extraneous material which will create even a little bit of drag. Also walk with an extra set of wheels, should you get a flat. Apart from a crash, a flat can ruin your day at the races.
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Organize Bag:
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Once bicycle is ready, you now have to get the supporting cast in order. I have a bag with multiple pockets to organize my cast of characters such as tools, pump, helmet, duct tape, tie wraps, stop watch, gloves, shoe covers, Garmin Edge 305 GPS, cameras, phone, helmet cover, shoes, shoe cover, paper towels, rags. Also within this bag I have a chain ring pouch which holds my various chain rings, cogs, spare chain, chain link remover, lock rings, gear chart and note book to write down key training notes, gearing and racing activities / results. The Garmin Edge 305 GPS records the rest of racing parameters for later analysis. The chain rings I carry – 53, 52, 51, 50, 49, 48 & 47. The cogs I carry – 16, 15, 14, 13 & 12. Using some of these gear combinations might require you to change your chain length, I try to avoid this by choosing gear ratios which use one chain length. Not to forget my racing license is tucked away in the gear bag since the bag always follows me to the races - no license no racing.
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Trainers or Rollers:
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You do have to take a turbo trainer or rollers with you, since track racing is all about waiting around for your event. You need to keep your legs race ready and the blood flowing in between events, this can only be achieved with trainers or rollers since the track will be occupied with other races.
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Keeping Cool:
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A chair with a sun cover is my item of choice for protection from the sun. It can get really hot at the track with heat rising from the asphalt and sucking the moisture out of your body. If the temperature is an ambient 90 degrees, then expect the heat off the asphalt to be about 115 degrees. Sitting in the grass can help to mitigate some of the reflected heat, also the better option is to sit on the grassy area under a portable tent. Nothing affects performance negatively more than heat and dehydration which also drives my pulse rate way up in to the nether zones. A Cooler is brought along with multiple bottles of cold water, Gatorade, ice packs, gels and snack bars. No Beer, Red Bull or caffeinated energy drinks, this is a one way ticket to dehydration. A typical Sunday track meet will last about five hours, so the snack bars and gels will have to provide energy, because I don’t seem to have an appetite for anything more substantial, maybe because the blood is not available for digesting real food.
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Pre-Race:
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I always plan to arrive one hour before start of event, this will give me ample time to sign in, set up shop in my favorite spot, hopefully a shaded one. Once set up, get into my racing attire, assemble bicycle, check tire pressures and head onto the track after looking right for traffic which might t-bone me. In the warm up gear I do a 20 lap warm up progressively increasing speed to a final lap sprint, or jump into a pace line, this takes about 15 minutes. Next comes three to four jumps of increasing distance – 100 meters, 200 meters, 300 meters and 400 meters. Now it is time to head off the track and change gear to race gear and get a drink. Once in race gear I do another five laps of easy rolling and a couple of tempered jumps just to get the muscle memory going. This is my typical warm up for mass start events, but I would adjust these if the events are the flying 200 meter or the Kilo. If I timed my warm up correctly I would hear the bell ring for the start of the events. This is when I will place my bike on the trainer or rollers and continue to spin if I am not racing. All the while making sure I am drinking lots of fluids to stay hydrated, because at Kissena on a hot day the sweat pours off of you like an open tap. Electrolyte tablets might also be a good choice under these conditions, to prevent cramps.
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Race:
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I am all exited if it is a scratch race and dejected if it is a miss & out or some other endurance type race such as points, snow ball, snow flake, devil catch me and burn me…blah blah blah. At least I know I have a chance of winning or placing in a scratch race, but forget it with the endurance type events which require good short term recovery. My focus this year is the flying 200 meter, the match sprints and the Kilo. Unfortunately you don’t score upgrade points in these events. Upgrade points are only scored in mass start categorized events where there are ten or more riders. Mass start masters events do not score upgrade points. I think I might be a Cat 4 on the track for the rest of my cycling career, albeit a fast one in the flying 200 meter.
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Post Event:
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Put your warm down gear on the bicycle and warm down before retracing your steps and heading home. Also your warm down gear, which is your warm up gear will be on the bicycle for the next training session or race meet.
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Cameras:
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I always walk with a camera to the races to record some of the action, be it a little point and shoot camera, SLR camera or video camera. Sometimes I give the camera to a spectator and ask them to just snap away. As you get older you tend to want to record challenging activities which you take part in, since you know you would not be able to continue doing as the years go by and bones start to creak. It is always good to look back in time and marvel at the fact that you once did that. In the age of digital photography it is easy to take and share images. 
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Retrospective: 
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Ironically, all the "crap" I wrote above, I did none of it back in the 80s when I was in my 20s. I use to ride to the track in my race gear, my race wheels strapped to my back with an old tubular. Can't remember where I got water from, manged to still race with good results and ride back home. Al Toefield was the organizer back them and John Issendorf was the official photographer.
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The Organizers:
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Alan Atwood organizes and runs the Wednesday evening races and States Championships. I marvel at his attention to detail and memory for names and numbers. He has this uncanny ability of associating your name to your number.
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Joe Brennan organizes and runs the women’s clinic and the weekend Omnium races. He not only organizes the Omnium races but races in them. That requires some serious multitasking and focus.
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Delroy Walters - World Champion runs a coaching clinic for the Star Track Juniors and also the Labor Day races in September, which is the final race for the season. I believe Delroy is training for another World Championship meet that will take place in some country where jet lag will diminish your performance, but Delroy will probably win another World Championship medal.
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John Campo runs Saturday Coaching sessions for new riders and also several messenger races and is still racing.
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Andrew LaCorte – masters National Champion runs elite training sessions at the track when not racing.

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