Track Elite Regional / National Qualifier

By Andrew Carlberg

While most of the team was out racing mountain bikes for the weekend, several Aggies ventured to the Alkek Velodrome for Elite Regionals and National Qualifier.  This event would bring some great talent to the Velodrome and gave us a chance to see just how fast on the track we had become.  One of my favorite things to do on the track is warm up. I know that seems really strangle but going around in circles for 25 laps slowly getting faster until you just have one lap left and you’re spinning is  like crazy oddly awesome.  First up in a busy weekend of events (3 sessions in 2 days) was the Team Pursuit. Pretty much its you and 3 other guys going as fast as you can for just 4 kilometers. Team Maroon Flash consisted of Austin Throop, Brian Hare, Carlton Mathis, and freelancer Brenden Sharp quickly set the best time of 5:34 (it helped that they were the 1st of 8 teams).  My Team, Team BAMF,whos on the team????? was second from the last to go and in my opinion, the favorites to win.  As we lined up on the start line I was ready to go!  On the whistle, I stood up and hammered only I was going nowhere. Sure enough, I had pulled my wheel into the side of my chain stays!  Rookie mistake!  Anyway, I borrowed a wrench from the closest guy and fixed it while the sun and ski team raced and clocked a 5:21. With my wheel tightened, Team BAMF lined up again and this time it was flawless!   We each took a one lap pulls and then settled into a rhythm of half lap pulls.  About half way through, we dropped one of our teammates, but that was ok because time is on the 3rd guy. Robert took our final pull as Andy and I sprinted around him so we would all cross as close to the same time as possible. 5:06!  So there was the podium. Maroon Flash had a great ride for 3rd, and my team won with a 29+ mph average. Next on the menu, a flying 200m (flying meaning you get a moving start at it).  There isn’t much to report in a race like that so I’ll just say this: I stopped the clock with a 12.33 seconds which was a new personal best and put me at 5th place.  Austin also had a good ride in the Cat 4s placing 2nd.  What better to do after Flying 2s then a Keiren!!!  A wonderful race where for 4 laps you sit behind a motor bike and for the last 2 you go as fast as you can!  After not doing too well in my first heat, I decided to cut my losses and save some energy for the scratch race instead of trying to get back to the competition through reps.

The scratch race was one of the races I really wanted to do well in during the weekend.  The 36 laps (12k) of racing meant it was long enough to be fast and fun, but not short enough to be a sprinters race.  Going over the start list, there were 18 people starting!  Wow!!! This was going to be fun!!!  As is the norm in a 1/2/3 race out at Alkek, when the gun goes off, so does Dan Morgan.  He never makes it, but always tries.  With 33 laps to go, Brenden Sharp attacked. Since I wanted my teammate Andy on the podium, I bridged in so spincycle would have someone in the breakaway, however since my spincycle kit still isn’t here, its a great tactic when the following happens.  I look back over my shoulder and I see a blue flashing coming, after a double take, yep its Andy.  From there he and I go.  Brenden dropped back into the pack, and before I knew it, Andy and I were a half lap up. With 24 to go we could see the back of the pack and closing each lap.  Finally we were back while I decided this would be a good time to recover. Andy however thought it would be a good idea to try and lap the field again.  I spent the last 15 laps of the race just following wheels and making sure no one else got a lap up.  Coming through turns 3 and 4 on the bell lap, I just rode to the line easy knowing I had just placed 2nd in a pretty good field!  After cooling down for a little and standing on the podium it was off to Whataburger for some late night recovery food.  For those of you not from Katy, its the only thing open when you don’t get out of the track till 11:30.

After spending the night at my house, we were back at the track at 8 o’clock.  Team Maroon flash was back together for the Team Sprint but failed to do as awesome as they had the day before.  Next on my to-do list was the 4k individual pursuit. Good news for this event was my awesome girlfriend was going to be nice enough to call out my lap times for me. Bad news, current national champion of…. well…. pretty much everything, Lawson Craddock decided to show up..  Well I would still be happy with a top 5 placing. Standing on the start line, I had requested from carl, the announcer for the weekend, to please play “The Distance” by cake during my 4k so as the official blew the whistle, I heard “Reluctantly crouched at the starting line” and was in a world of pain for the next 5 and half minutes as I raced as fast as I could.  Liz was standing just going into turn one so I would get my lap time.  Lap 1: 30 seconds, ok thats not too bad keep it up. Lap 2: 25 seconds, Holy crap your flying keep it up!!!. Lap 3: 26 seconds, still a good pace. Lap 4-11: 27 seconds. Crap go faster.  I finished in 5:31 and placed 4th. I was pretty happy with that.

Two events remained for me; the points races which was another target and the match sprints which I would just try to get out of the first round so I would win some money.  Sprints were up first and I was going against the guy wearing bib number 1, Robert Bodamer. Roberts a great guy but the number 1 means he was the winner of the whole friday night race series for the 1/2s last season, you know exactly the kinda of guy you want to meet in the quarterfinals.  As if that was intimidating enough, I drew number 1 meaning I had to lead him around in our two lap race. Since I’m not a pure sprinter, I decided the lets-see-who-has-the-stronger-jump contest would fail me by the time we had completed one lap I was already moving at a pretty good speed. Robert jumped coming out of 2 and I launched down the track and was on his wheel before going into turn 3. Now all I had to do was take the long route and go over the top of Robert. Coming into the home straight, I was still behind and just dug deep. I hit the line and had no idea who won. Up next, the semis.  Who was I lucky enough to face in a best of 3 battle??  One John Matthew Hattaway.   Hatt drew obligation so I got to be lead out by him!!  Coming into the finish to see one lap to go, I almost jumped but he turned around and saw it at just the right time so I continued to follow and with 220 meters to go Hatt finally went.  So again I had to go the long way over the top and won another really close sprint. After I brief rest, Hatt and I lined up for round 2 but this time I would lead him out!  I continued with faster lead out approach and when Hatt didn’t jump I opened up for a 200 meter sprint in the sprinters lane this time! I would finally have the short path and when all was said and done, I won by a bike length. I made it to the gold medal round and who would I be racing? None other then A&M alum Devin Carroll.

The time between sessions was filled with an awesome sandwich and a brief nap. In less then 5 hours from when we left, we were back at the track.  I decided to skip the Kilo just for the sake of saving my legs.  I warmed up and prepared to face devin in the sprint finals.  In the first round, I would have the obligation. Wonderful!!!  My fast lead out tactic was working so I did it again!  When devin wouldn’t jump first, I launched into the sprinters lane with 200 to go and it was another close finish as I took round 1.  Round 2 came waaaaaaay too quick and Devin used the fact that he could go slower to get me to take the lead after the first half lap.  Crap.  I couldn’t get my speed up quick enough and when turn 2 came, Devin and I jumped at the same time but he beat me to the lane and I couldn’t get on his wheel.  As he pulled away, I sat up so I wouldn’t waste a full sprint in a losing battle when I could just try and win in the 3rd round. Throughout all this, one of the officials who was a t.u. fan made the wonderful remark that “I bet an Aggie will win”.  What a great call!!!  3rd Round. I was back to leading. I watched devin the whole time as I rolled faster and faster around the track.  I decided to attack just a little before I had been and as I was flying down the track, I hovered just outside the sprinters lane so he couldn’t take it and would have a little further to travel. By turn 3 I was in the lane and could hear him starting to come over the top. I figured all I could do is make it through the corner and punch it to the line and hope for the best.  Coming out of 4 I waited and waited to see his wheel out of the corner of my eye, but it never came.  As I crossed the line, I did one of the most cheesiest things ever and let out a huge YES!!!  Victory!

I would love to tell you that I then rode to another podium in the points race but I was pulled a third of the way through the race. My body had finally had enough and I just couldn’t get a full breath. I ended up laying on the ground with ice packs and cold towels on my body for like 5 minutes after I had quit.  Oh well, thats just something to do next year.  After that night of racing, most some of us went back to my house and grilled up some burgers and just enjoyed the nice night. It had been a great weekend for the A&M guys out there.

I really can’t recall how we all did, but I know everyone remembers their own results so please post them guys!

As for me:

1st team pursuit (5:06, 29.2 mph avg)
5th flying 200 (12.33, 36.something)
2nd 12k Scratch Race (+1 lap over field)
4th 4k individual pursuit (5:31, 27.0 mph avg)
1st Match Sprints

Pictures can be found here

Andrew “Wow that was alot of racing” Carlberg

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