Familiar Territory

June 27th, 2006 by Bob Brooks

With the MMSF RR route being one of the featured routes in the Wednesday World’s rotation it is no surprise Tortugans made the selection in the combined 30+/40+/1,2 field on Sunday. After a wind up start across the main forest road, the field punched it down the first descent on Old 37 toward Hindustan.

Spanbauer of Papa John’s launched a test attack up the climb into Hindustan that most of the field withstood. Steady tempo to the base of Bean Blossom allowed the bunch to remain together into and over the first ascent of BB.

Approaching Hindustan for the second time, Spanbauer, along with Tolson of Tx Rdhse, dropped the hammer. Gary Palmer, Sean Bauer and Mike Brauner made the selection with two other riders. The 7-man break floored it across the remainder of Old 37 and Anderson Road. Sanity prevailed the second time up Bean Blossom, allowing the group to remain intact.

The elastic broke the third and final time up to Hindustan when Spanbauer and Tolson said sayonara to the five chasers. Mike and Sean worked to keep Gary fresh for the final ascent of Bean Blossom. An attack by the other member of the group at the base of Bean Blossom set the stage for the final 5.5 minutes to the finish. Professor Menzel of Indy Masters was able to withstand the Tortuga Armada and held off Gary for 3rd. Palmer took a hard earned 4th, followed across by Mike in 5th and Sean in 6th. Nice job guys.

Next up on the schedule is the Proctor Cycling Classic. Don’t forget Friday Night racing at the Major Taylor Velodrome. Looking ahead, the Bret Neylon Tribute Night at the MTV is now scheduled for Friday, July 28.   


June 24th, 2006 by Bob Brooks

Seeking supplemental training to replace the intensity we used to achieve at the Southeastway Park Tues. Night Crits., I’ve ventured the short distance to the Major Taylor Velodrome. On Saturday, June 3, I took the introductory clinic, a day-long affair that covers the basics of track riding and racing. Led by Velodrome administrator, Ken Nowakowski, I found the class informative, well-paced, and quite beneficial. For the price of a race entry fee, you receive hands on instruction from one of the most accomplished track riders and coaches in the country. Not a bad deal at all. The day ended with a motor pacing session, something I had been hearing much of over the past few seasons.

When the southeastway trainer ended, the smart racers went straight for the velodrome. among them were some of my closest friends and competitors. Via those racers, I’d heard about the improved speed, acceleration and anaerobic capacity that track racing offers the basic road racer. More importantly however, I saw the results. While I was going backward, Bedwell, Murphy and Marhanka continued moving forward. Murphy won the IRS overall in 2004, Marhanka has won many regional races at the Masters level, and the over 50 Bedwell continues to marvel the young guys by placing top 5 in the occasional 1,2 races he enters. Speed.

Behind the motor bike, these guys regularly push the equivalent of a 53X16 over 40 mph. That’s about 150 rpm folks. It’s one thing to ride the 54X12 at 42 mph behind the draft of a mini-van, but quite another to spin the gear in the draft of a motor cycle. And so, by hearing about and seeing the results, it did not take much to convince me I needed to be riding in the velodrome.

Following the intro clinic, I attened the Cat. 4 Tues. night sessions the following two tuesdays. Hardly a Cat. 4 field, racers included Adam Liebovitz, the top Junior in the area and a young man who has been racing track for nearly two years; his father, also a trackie for over two years, Ryan Meyers of Ft. Wayne, Whit Bazemore and a few other seasoned veterans. Although short due to time limits, the races were intense throughout -just what I was looking for to amp the anaerobic engine back up to speed.

After my second Tuesday I was granted a probationary participation for the weekend racing when the 1,2 and 3 categories compete. Being a sub-culture of cycling in general, I was pleased to find more camaraderie among the trackies than the roadies. When I first arrived to the MTV I had to change my gear by replacing the chain ring. Getting the chain tension just right is an art in itself and being mostly thumbs, I natrually struggled. None other than Curtis himself, 17-time National Champion, came over to lend his expert eye and hand. I appreciated his help, along with Brian Murphy and their gestures added a comfort level to the experience. Thanks again guys.

Once the racing began, the thrill of the hunt took over. On the track, with no brakes, it’s actually much safer than on the road where someone in front of you can brake and cause a pile up. Because the fields were small last Saturday, Ken combined the 1,2 with the 3 field. With people buzzing in and out and all around, the action remeinded me of the Star Wars scene where they buzzed through the forest, diving under, around and over trees and leaves, on those air propelled, jet-ski type vehicles.

Riding only one gear, there is no shifting. If you want to go faster, you pedal faster. Pretty simple. And very beneficial to the road racer who wants to improve. Harry Clark was the top rider in the Category 3 events, winning the Scratch and the Points race, the latter by a wide margin. Fortunately the rest of the 3s, Harry was upgraded after last Saturday.

My own successes were minor, but gratifying. It’s been a good start. I’ve been “on the motor” a handful of times now and I can say with certainty, this type of training is what will elevate riders to improved fitness. although I have not hit the 40-mph mark yet, it’s coming. Like anything, the more time you do it, the more comfortable and accomplished you become.

The velodrome is a great venue, of world class stature. There are no cars on the track, etiquette dictates rider actions making the riding much safer than group rides, and the expense to ride and race is less than road racing entry fees. The bottom line is that all of these benefits will make you a better road racer. Again, look at Curtis Tolson. He’s been racing track from the beginning of his career. He’s still winning at the elite level in our neck of the woods. He still makes the two hour trek up to Indy almost every Friday night.

There are workings going on behind the scenes at the Velodrome to make it even more viable. Already this season, Delta Faucet of Carmel has offered support by providing generous prize lists of $1,000 every weekend. Think about it. You get 3 races per night for a mere $20 entry fee. That’s 3 chances at some of the prize list, not to mention 3 chances to work on positioning, acceleration, top speed and anaerobic fitness.

Greater prize lists and bigger events are forthcoming. If you haven’t caught the band wagon yet, there is still time. The Major Taylor Velodrome is making a comeback and those who utilize it will be leading the way on the track AND on the road.   

Velodrome Racing

June 19th, 2006 by Bob Brooks

It is difficult to write enthusiastically when a friend is severely injured so this post will be a brief intro to a post for later in the week. As I mentioned in the post-Louisville recap, the velodrome is the only place to attain high quality training on a regular basis. Things are happening behind the scenes to make the Major Taylor Velodrome even more viable than it has been over the past few seasons and fate has landed me right in the thick of the action.

Please join me over the next few days in sending as much positive, healing energy to Bret Neylon and then check back late this week for an update on what’s going on at the Major Taylor Velodrome. If you even have a remote possibility to utilize the facility, you’ll wonder, like me, how you ever could have gone so long without incorporating fixed gear training and racing into your regimen.

Thinking of Bret

June 19th, 2006 by Bob Brooks

Friend and competitor, Bret Neylon of the Heroes Foundation Team, was severely injured in a bike racing accident over the weekend. His injury has left him paralyzed from the neck down. Spinal surgery was performed on Sunday morning and a Heroes Foundation announcement posted at stated the doctors want to give the surgery two weeks to heal before making any further prognosis. All of us here at Team Tortuga send our heart felt concerns and well wishes to Bret, Tracie and Bret’s entire circle of loved ones; his family, the students he teaches, the athletes he coaches, and his teammates. In these trying weeks Bret, know that you have an entire community taking your pulls until you return to full speed. When you are ready to reach out, do not hesitate for we are all here as necessary.  

Lost in Louisville

June 12th, 2006 by Bob Brooks

To say the weekend was a disappointment for most of the team would be the understatement of the year. Furthermore, my own riding was so below the depth charts the only thing I can do is take solace in knowing that it cannot get any worse.

 Starting from the back of a pro,1,2 crit is a death sentence. Our fate was sealed when we finished our warm up while everyone else lined up. It should be stated however, that Karim and John Kelly managed decent starting positions and JK made his presence felt in one or two breakaways during the race. Both guys rode strong races and finished well, in the top 15.

The LMPD Crit was a fabulous course held along the Louisville Waterfront Park, a great place to enjoy a summer Saturday. THe 8-corner course ensured that only the best riders completed the event. Many compliments to the organizers and sponsors of this event, which drew teams from OHio, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Georgia, North Carolina and Missouri.

SUnday’s short circuit race took place in Cherokee Park on rolling, twisting terrain that again demaned exceptional fitness and skill, especially when the rain unleashed in a torrential downpour, making the newly paved roads treacherously slick. Chris and I lined up for the 40+ race with about 45 other geriatrics. The field quickly whittled down and split into groups of four or five. Battling a respiratory infection for several weeks now, Chris fought through labored breathing to finish 16th. I fought off the mind deamons who begged me to quit and finished while many others succumbed to the deamons.

It is never pleasant being off the back. Yet when it occurs, it gives reason for contemplating improvement. Where to go, what to do? This weekend illustrated a severe lack of anaerobic capacity for many of us. I’ve lamented the loss of the Indy Southeastway Park Tues. night training crit. for months now and this weekend really illustrated how much some of us miss that type of training.

Although literally right in my back yard, I’ve been slow in finding the SEway replacement. The Major Taylor Velodrome offers great training and racing several times a week. John Kelly is a regular on the velodrome and Karim raced collegiately at Marian, putting in many kilometers on this training gem. Vic Emond owns many District Championships on the velodrome and Patrick Delisle is now also an accomplished track racer.  

Several years ago, Curits wrote on the Truesport bulletin board that, “One year on the track is like 5 years on the road.” The speed, acceleration, anaerobic conditioning and handling you acquire on the track is unparalleled. You can’t get this kind of training on the road. Furthermore, Velodrome Director, Ken Nowakowski, has over 30 years experience in cycling and is always eager to teach racers the velodrome ropes.

Watching my own performance drop while seeing peers such as Bill Bedwell and Brian Murphy improve over the past few years, it is quite obvious the velodrome is the best place to train. And so I, too, have begun the venture into Velodrome racing and training and I highly encourage everyone to give it a chance. Too far away? Don’t tell the guys who come down from Ft. Wayne to train until 10:00 p.m. on a Tuesday night. Big race this weekend? Don’t tell Curtis, who rarely misses a Friday night and still places in the weekend Crits. I’m sure Vic could provide many more anecdotes that illustrate the benefits of velodrome racing.

With plenty of crits remaining on the schedule, the Major Taylor Velodrome should become quite busy in the coming weeks.