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One of my athletes forwarded me the video of our bronze medal ride in the Team Sprint, so here it is. Thanks, Todd!

I knew the crowd was going to be out of their minds, but nothing like this. The stadium was so loud, it was nearly impossible to hear the countdown. You train to respond to the beeps and not look at the clock. You want to go on instinct.

Having to watch the numbers, then process them and react accordingly can add valuable tenths to your time.

A lot happened in a short time, as you can see here. We false started, though at the time I thought it was Mexico, not knowing the language! We came back pretty well, and came away with plenty to learn from.

On the plus side, we posted two 500’s under 35 seconds at the Pan Am Games. We rode a 34.7 in qualifying. Our previous best together was 36.0, so that’s quite an improvement!

The Team Sprint is still a relatively new event for women. It’s been contested domestically for a number of years, but was only added to the UCI World Championship schedule in 2007.

I rode in the start position (man 1) at the 2007 Los Angeles World Cup with US Team member Jennie Reed, but we never raced it again after that. Her focus was on the individual events; the Match Sprint and Keirin.

Cristin Walker & I rode together twice last World Cup season, and depending on rosters may have the chance to see how far we’ve come this year.

On the whole, we (the US Team) are just now starting to see the benefits of having a dedicated coach and consistent training program: quicker times, a better understanding of the event and more bodies to work with.

This is the first time the US has had a women’s sprint program with enough depth to work on this event. And really–with Team Sprint being an Olympic event–the first time it has been a priority for female sprinters in the US.

Pretty cool, eh? I’m psyched to be here. I think I can say with confidence that our 34.7 is the quickest time ridden by American women to date. I’m sure we’re going to go faster, but we’re waiting to hear from USAC HQ if we’ve established a new American record.

Beyond not coming out with the win, I don’t see any negatives . . . only room for improvement!

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Where to begin!?

I’m writing this on my return flight from the Manchester World Cup. My teammate Cristin is two rows in front of me. We started the day with Bobby Lea, Kim Geist and Cari Higgins—also of the US Team—and Megan Hottman, of DFT Treads Cycling.  We left Kim & Bobby in Pennsylvania while Cari & Megan flew on to Denver. Cristin & I are heading back to Los Angeles where we’ll resume training Tuesday at the ADT Center.  

I flew to Los Angeles shortly after Thanksgiving to train with the new US Sprint Coach, Jamie Staff. Staff was hired by USA Cycling in July 2010 with the challenge of building an internationally competitive sprint program. Staff retired from competition last year after a career that began on the BMX track and ended with his winning gold at the Beijing Olympics as the starter for the British Team Sprint team.

At Elite Nationals, I learned Staff had an open door policy for now.  I did well at elite nationals—two gold and two bronze medals—so I took a few weeks to consider whether I wanted to pursue the sport at a higher level. If I learned anything in 2007, it’s that it’s nearly impossible to succeed at the world class level without committed support from an organized program.

We decided we were still game so I emailed Jamie to see if I could join his training group between the holidays.

That was three months ago. What started as a ‘try out’ has become a work in progress!

When I arrived in LA, 2009 elite national champion Cristin Walker was the only female sprint athlete training with Staff. She was doing road work and being groomed for next season. Staff has been straight up since taking the job that he’s got a long term vision and is building a program with the 2016 Olympic Games in mind.

New for London 2012, the Team Sprint is being used to qualify sprinters for the Olympic Games. Prior to myself and Tela Crane from Seattle joining him, Jamie had only one female–Cristin–in camp. When we arrived, he suddenly had enough bodies to field a team.

So we got to work. No promises were made. Jamie’s a high-energy, driven, process-oriented coach. We show up every day, work hard and give him our best. He gives us his best and expects our best. That’s how it goes.

By January, Staff felt we were fast enough to race the World Cup. I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I think he saw this season as a chance to gain international experience, establish a UCI ranking and if all goes well, earn Olympic qualification points. At the very least, he saw it as a chance to get US women back in the game.

It’s been a whirlwind, to say the least! Cristin and I flew to China last month for the Beijing World Cup. It was my first elite international race since December 2007 and Cristin’s first World Cup ever.  Long travel, crazy jet lag, funny food, very little English . . . nothing like diving in head first!

We did well in Beijing: placed 11th with a respectable time of 35.954. We also scored Olympic qualification points our first time out! Last week we rode a 36.054 in Manchester . . . just 1/10 second off our best.

With Beijing, the travel and cultural differences take some getting used to. Manchester is an entirely different beast: sold-out crowds, non-stop loud music and cameras in your face. The stimulus factor is a 10+ and learning to concentrate and focus on your race is a cultivated skill.

We’d grown accustomed to going 2/10ths faster every time we rode together, so we were expecting a faster time in Manchester. Cristin and I also came home from China sick as dogs, though, and lost valuable training time between the two events.

Still, we’re ahead of schedule: Instead of waiting ‘til next World Cup season, we’ve got two World Cups under our belts. And, we’ve set a time we can only improve on and have seen first-hand the best in the world perform.

Plus, we’ve got a UCI ranking and have scored coveted Olympic qualification points. Whoot! I’ll post photos soon and do my best to explain what it takes to qualify for the Olympic Games . . .

For now, I’ll just say this: Every pedal stroke counts!

Until then, cheers!

Liz

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A Great Trip

I know I’ve been quiet, which has everything to do with going through another move in June. If you count relocating for training, this is the 5th time I’ve moved in 5 years. But we finally found a place that gets me closer to my friends in the Lehigh Valley and the track while Lath has a manageable commute, so hopefully . . . it’s our last!

I just returned from back-to-back race weekends in the Pacific Northwest. I started working with Jennie Reed last year — who was key to my doing well at the World Cup level in 2007. She’s an amazing coach and friend, so the trip to Portland for the Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge and Seattle for the FSA Grand Prix presented by Nuun was as much an opportunity for good racing as it was a chance to check in with Jennie.

The Men's 30K Points Race at Alpenrose


The Alpenrose Velodrome is a little kooky. It’s shaped like a paper clip with tight turns that suck you into the corners. It requires a certain physicality to race it well, otherwise you lose contact with the track and get bounced around (you have to relax, let your body absorb the surface, and find the cleaner lines.) Point being: it’s not easy to get used to, but once you do  — it’s a blast. Kind of like a carnival ride.

There’s definitely a hometown advantage, as Portlands’ Kevin Metzger and Jen Featheringill dominated the sprints.

My best result at the AVC was 2nd in the Team Sprint with my partner, Seattle’s Tela Crane; and 3rd in the Keirin behind Dana Feiss and Monique Sullivan. Tela & I broke the track record in the Team Sprint and were celebrating our awesomeness before Dana and Jen Featheringhill dropped it a few moments later. It was pretty cool once I got over being bummed about not winning. Each of the women’s team sprint teams broke the track record, which says something (I think) about a new crop of sprint talent in the US.

The first two days of racing (the 500m & Match Sprints) for me were flat, not sure if it was the travel or adjusting to the track. I raced Tuesday night at T-Town then traveled Wednesday and was warned by Jennie that might not be the smartest thing to do (race before hopping on a cross-country flight). Well, that’s how you learn; and my form came around by day 3 . . . thank GOD!

We hit 60kph (36mph) in the Keirin final! That’s fast! Kudos to Dana Feiss for leading it out for two laps.

Both events are season marquee races for the Alpenrose and Marymoore velodromes, so the talent was deep, racing competitive and prize money generous. The promoters offer equal prize money for both the women’s and men’s fields (another bonus), so the racing’s aggressive across the board. Riders from all over the West . . . California, Colorado, Canada and Chicago come and they all seem to know each other well so the vibe feels like a big picnic with bicycle track racing going on around it.

Here are some pics of Alpenrose …The infield is organized chaos. We had glorious weather.

The Infield at Alpenrose

Women's Scratch Race

The Homestraight Grandstands

Our friendly announcing team

Our route: Oceanside to Sand Lake to Tillamook to Oceanside

Camille Hook, busting out the grin

I had some time to kill  before heading up to Seattle for the Fixed Gear Classic, and found out Sunday night that Portland rider Camille Hook had never been to the coast, or at least it had been awhile.

I rode a good chunk of the Oregon Coast after running in the Hood to Coast relay in 1997. IMO, it’s one of the most gorgeous places in the US, I had to go being so close. Canadian Travis Smith helped me coerce Camille into taking the day off  & we had a blast. It took us twice as long as we thought it would to ride a way harder route than we thought it would be. Closest I’ve been to bonking in a long time. It was epic.

40 Miles of wind, sand, hills and gorgeous scenery. Epic.

I’ve got a few Marymoor pics that I’ll upload once I’ve checked ’em out. It was an amazing trip. Special thanks to former pro cyclist turned pro accountant Marjon Marik, who let me stay with her in Portland  . . . and David and Ellen Mann, who gave me the ROYAL Treatment in Seattle.

And Walrod, I still can’t believe I ran into you and your family on Glisan! That was crazy.

Got some quality racing in, spend time with old friends and caught up with and met new friends in the sport.

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I don’t know how many of you folks have been paying attention to women’s racing lately, so I’m going to share a few highlights…

Last week, Sarah Hammer (of the United States) set a new World Record in the Individual Pursuit at the Panamerican Track Championships.

Photo: © TeknoBike-Mexico

Then the following day, Sarah, Lauren Tamayo and Dotsie Bausch dropped a wicked fast time and ripped open a 3:19.569 to set a new World Record in the Team Pursuit in Aguascalientes, Mexico. For Sarah, that’s two world records in as many days . . .

photo by Benjamin Sharp

This is so freakin’ cool . . . . Here’s another great shot by Photo: © Wenceslao Rodriguez/ WRS IMAGENES . . . click on it to read the story. I’ve never seen Dotsie Bausch smile so large.

Photo: © Wenceslao Rodriguez/ WRS IMAGENES

Come to think of it, they all look pretty happy.

Then a few days later . . . T-Bird (aka Theresa Cliff-Ryan) lapped the field twice to win the women’s points race at Panam’s. She’s out of control. Let me say that again . . . lapped the field twice to win GOLD at Panamerican Track Championships.

Then, of course . . . on Sunday of this week, 17-year old Coryn Rivera won the women’s crit at the Amgen Tour of California . Here’s a pic of the finish if you missed this little nugget on the interwebs . . .

Photo: © Mark Johnson

Seems to me 2010 is cookin’ up to be the year of the girl. At least for the home team.

Just sayin’.

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I spent February and some of March in LA this winter. It was good to get out of the cold, dark East and great to hang with my friend Stacey, who I stayed with before the ’07 LA World Cup.

Stacey & Molley Girl

Stacey & I share huge love for our dogs. She recently had to say goodbye to her sweet pal Molly (pictured right).  Molly was the kind of dog that barks at you and expects you to understand what she’s saying. Funny thing is . . . after living with and feeding her for a week or so, you actually could start to understand her.

I got a strange sensation riding along the Strand . . . not because the last time was there was in 2007, but because the first time I was riding that path was 10 years ago to the day.

In March of 1999, I made my first solo trip to the West Coast to race what was then called the California Spring Classic Series. I entered my first EDS Track Cup, then raced the Sea Otter Classic (Cat III road &  mountain), the Napa Valley World Cup on the mountain,and got spit out the back of the Visalia Crit.

I somehow convinced my boss at Runner’s World to let me take a month off and race my bike.  (thanks Ken!) I flew to California, rented a mini-van, floated between El Segundo at my cousin Cheryl’s and Pasadena at my friend Tony’s when I wasn’t traveling to races. It was me, a van, 3 bikes and a map of California. I was rider, mechanic, team manager and soigneur.

What I remember most from the trip was how much I learned in a short time, and how hard it is to race back to back weekends when you’re handling all the logistics yourself. Since that moment, I’ve been in awe of road pros. I’m pretty sure that’s when I realized the ‘arena sport’ nature of track racing was more my style.

I dug out the journal I kept while on the road and found this report on my first EDS Cup.

Race Report, EDS Cup 1999

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Many thanks to my Aussie VBR teammate, Jess, for her massive support during elite nats! 

Everyone should have a cute, mechanically-inclined, race savvy sweetheart with a wicked sense of humor, cheeky accent, and calm disposition to get them through a marathon week of track racing. 
Check out the loot! Great day of racing today, with the women’s points race and men’s madison wrapping up the week. You can check all the results on USA Cycling.
Final tally: One gold, two silvers, and lots of time to catch up with folks I haven’t seen in awhile.

Good luck to all the masters heading to Sydney for Masters Worlds!

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Today was my birthday. I love birthdays. It gets better every year. We woke up delightfully late. Lath has taken charge of breakfast ever since he became a meat eater. It’s a great way to wake up, the sound of eggs cracking. I always negotiate to wake up on even numbers. 9:00 vs. 8:47 for example.

We both had truly dismal race days yesterday, with what amounted to a 7 hours of driving for 2 flat tires for Lath and 5 in-over-my-head laps for me. We both agreed we’d eaten far more calories than expended and started the day taking dogs for a hike to burn off the layer of unused fuel. Dogs did not seem to mind . . .

Sleep in, coffee, smoothie, orange, clean-up, dog walk, waffles & eggs, 3 hour ride up, over and through some of the most beautiful Pennsylvania farmland you’ll ever see—best ride I’ve taken from my back door since moving here in 2005, dinner at FLOW with Pagoda & friends, hugged burgers, homemade sodas, glass of wine, sparkling birthday candle, peanut butter and chocolate and a killer game of Cranium.

FYI: Hugged burger (def.) is a cheese burger made from well fed, antibiotic-free, loved and cared-for beef. This one had chevre cheese and a yummy carrot horseradish barbeque sauce with stewed tomato something or other.

Perfect Day, start to end.

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