1st Annual Cleveland-Detroit Challenge
The first mass start racing at the Cleveland Velodrome took place on Saturday September 22, with the brand new track hosting about 50 racers from Ohio, Michigan and Canada at the Cleveland-Detroit-London Challenge. In spite of questionable weather a good group of racers came out to experience the thrill, speed and action of mass start track racing. Dale Hughes, the builder of the Cleveland Velodrome, director of a similar track in Detroit and renowned track cycling coach organized the racing by starting us with a 50 lap rollup, where all the riders start together at a moderate pace and increase the tempo to race speed in the finishing laps to divide the riders by ability. A strong contingent of Michigan riders kept the pace high and strung it out in the last 5 laps; I was happy to roll in behind Detroit’s Martin Vecchio, a national level track rider prepping for USAC Track Nationals in Los Angeles the coming weekend.
With three groups separated based on the rollup, AA adults, A adults and juniors , we had separate scratch races (first rider after 30 or 50 laps wins), a miss and out race (last rider across the line is eliminated until only 3 remain, they sprint for the win) and finally a madison (pairs race together as a team and alternate throwing each other in with a hand sling, scored on sprint points). Dale’s wife, Kris, kept the action exciting by calling out the action on the PA system, letting you know how many laps to go and whether you made the cut in the miss and out; that’s the one time you don’t want to hear your name called out. Coming from a season of road and crit racing, the track action was super intense. In the scratch race, Vecchio and I took a lap from the field and I got a lesson in why you don’t want to lead out the sprint on the track! More lessons on positioning in the miss and out as I learned from Luke Cavender and Joe Nieto that bike handling and strategy is paramount on the track. The madison was a blast to watch as the Detroit riders put on a show for the Cleveland riders, showing how to do high speed exchanges with your racing partner while keeping it safe. Rain brought the races to a close a little early but it was great afternoon on the track in Cleveland, who would’ve thought we’d be able to say that a year ago!
All in all I had a blast as a first time track racer. Thanks to everyone who made the trip to Cleveland, we look forward to hosting many more races in the future. -Paul Martin