“He who chases two rabbits, gets none” I have heard this proverb countless times in my career. For the past years the balance of being a full time student and an elite athlete has weighed heavily on me. With the conclusion of this semester at Penn State I am done chasing two rabbits and am focusing solely on cycling. I have a two year leave of absence approved through the university and I will return to finish my last 16 credits and graduate with my Electrical engineering degree after the Olympics. The decision to leave school and focus on cycling was a very tough one for me. For the past 13 years school has been all I’ve known and my main focus. It was a very strange feeling not scheduling classes for the Fall or making any plans for next semester, a little bittersweet. I have no doubt I will go back and get my degree I just have another dream I want to fulfill for now.
The time time has come where I am too close to not give cycling my full focus and attention. I know my training and especially recovery suffered while I was at school and that really bothered me. I balanced both long enough and it is time to give each my full attention. In the fall of 2016 I will return to Penn State and complete the last semester to get my degree, giving that my focus. Until then I am 100% in to train for the Rio Olympic Games and become the best track sprint cyclist I can. I know the next two years will be the toughest of my life but it is the struggles that define us. I feel I am ready for this journey and it is what I want most right now. The time and journey will be dominated by a long series of small decisions but this was a major one for me; postponing graduating college and almost guaranteed employment in January to ride my bike. I have the rest of my life to work and be an engineer but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I intend to make the most of it!
While I was at Penn State I was training full time and taking 19 credits of all Electrical and Computer Engineering courses. It was hell, I was up at 6am every morning and either in the gym or on the rollers by 7:15, class all day then homework and bed at ten to get up and do it again the next day. The discipline and hard work paid off though and I was able to make great progress while I was at school and keep my grades up. I finished off this semester with a 3.85 GPA which kept my cumulative GPA right at 3.84. I was really happy with my grades and my ability to balance everything. My form on the bike improved greatly from time on the rollers and my strength from the gym improved as well. The only big question was will it transfer to the bike on the track.
As a bit of a pre-season opener and to see where my form was I decided to make the trip to Frsco, Tx for the Matrix Cup just days after my last final. I spent a few days on the track trying to get the legs to come around and get used to riding on a track again. I have always liked the Frisco track and thought it would be a great time to see where my times were and how much of a hole I had to dig myself out of this season. As it turns out my form was pretty good! After a few times on the track tweaking my 200 approach I was able to turn a 10.383s 200m. This was just 0.04s off the time standard for the International Elite program through USA Cycling which is the time standard I need to meet in order to race world cups and have some great European race opportunities. I was absolutely thrilled with the time and I have confidence I will make the time standard later in the season. The rest of the event in Frisco went well with some great battles against Dave Espinoza and the other riders. I was able to win the sprints and the kilo and got second in the flying lap after my SRM had a major issue just before I went off. All in all I was very pleased with the trip and where my form is currently.
In the weeks since the Matrix Cup I have had a major building block with tough two a day sessions to get ready for great racing in the month of June in T-town. I have been able to transfer more of the strength and speed I worked on at school to the bike and am riding faster and stronger than I was even during the Matrix Cup. I am looking forward to a great month of racing at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center followed by a great training block during July and some great racing in August as well. In August I will be racing National Championships in Rockhill, SC and I am hoping to get a trip together to Europe to race some Grand Prix events internationally before Pan- American Championships.
This is a time of major uncertainty for me since there are no guarantees in cycling but it is the time I have looked forward to for a number of years. I am humbled to have the opportunity to chase my dream and live it for a few years. None of this would be possible without the generous support of my team and sponsors as well as my family, friends and all of you who support me. I know I am taking a huge chance and betting on the underdog but I know together we can do this and compete in Rio not just watch it on TV. BELIEVE!!
With the start of the new year it is a great time to reflect on the year that has just come to a close and plan for the year that just started. 2013 was a great year for me! It included a win a the Revolution in Scotland, bronze medal at Pan-American championships, numerous wins in front of a hometown crowd at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, four Elite national Championship titles and Two Collegiate National Championship Titles. Overall it has been a great year of racing and I have made some great progress towards the ultimate goal of the 2016 Olympics in Rio. I would like to thank to thank everyone who has helped me along the way from my parents and family to my amazing sponsors and team, I could not have done it without you.
This year also marked my first semester at the main campus of Penn State where I will finish my degree in Electrical Engineering. It has been a very good experience for me to live on my own and away from home but not one of a typical college student. My days start at 6am when the alarm clock goes off and doesn’t end until 10pm. I am in the gym on campus by 7:30 each morning for a lifting session or a bike workout on the trainer or rollers. Following the mornings workout I have class from ten to 5:30 most days. After a short commute to my apartment on the bike it’s dinner time then studying and homework with a little Recovery Pump session before bed. Not the most ideal training schedule but I make it work. Now I only have two semesters left to get my degree but I will end up pushing one of those off until after the games.
2013 was a year of changes for me from a new campus and “home” to new training regiments. One of the biggest and most beneficial changes I had this year was starting to train with Tim Moyer and his team at Nexgen High Performance Training center. Tim writes my strength program and guides my work in the gym. I have made some huge improvements since I started working with him in March of last year. I am looking forward to many more killer workouts with the Nexgen family. Check them out: Nexgen
I look forward to building on the successes I had in 2013 this year. It will be a big year for me with a lot more new changes as I go all in for Rio. I could not continue to do what I love and chase the Olympic dream without my team of sponsors behind. A huge thank you to: Felt Bikes, K’NEX brands, Recovery Pump, Oakley, Pure Energy Cycling and Powerbar. I would like to make a special thanks to the sponsors who came on board in 2013: Nexgen High Performance Training Center, 3T Cycling, Bont cycling shoes, Atomic High Performance and Vie 13 Kustom Cycling Apparel.
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Tagged bikes, Cycling, cycling center, degree in electrical engineering, elite national championships, felt bicycles, felt bikes, k'nex, keirin, matt baranoski, oakley, positive energy, powerbar, pure energy, pure energy cycling, road cycling, sports, sprinting, team, Track cycling, training, usa cycling
I spent this past week in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training center with USA Cycling for a Sprint development camp. The camp was to identify and develop some of the young sprinting talent in the country. I was blown away with the number of talented young riders who wanted to pursue sprinting. It was a great week working with the younger racers and helping to develop their sprinting tactics and form. The whole week I was doing some pre-race prep for the US Grand Prix of Sprinting this past weekend. I got a great surprise on Thursday at the Training Center. Andy at Atomic coatings had finished my chain and cogs and overnighted them to me so I could use them in the tt. The cogs and chain were amazing and noticeably cut down on the resistance on the bike. They also made the bike extremely quiet. I was immensely surprised with just how big of a difference the cogs and chain made. If you are serious about getting the absolute most performance out of your bike you owe it to yourself to give the guys at Atomic a call.
The racing kicked off on Friday morning with the 200m qualifying tt. I was given final ride so I went off last for the 200m. My goal for the trip was to turn a sub 10s 200m. I was able to do this and beat my old PR from Mexico City with a 9.95s. This qualified me third with Bernard first, Kevin second and J in fourth. The top four were all under 10s and all on Felt bikes, pretty amazing.
The first round of sprints went really well and I moved on to the quarter finals that evening. The quarter finals did not go nearly as planned. I raced Joe from Canada who is a great racer and an awesome guy. We were coming down to the line and I was flying over the top passing him when he came up to the top of the sprinters lane and his elbow caught my arm. This caused him to lose control and he fell really hard. I wish Joe all the best on a speedy recovery and I can’t wait for him to be back on the bike so we can race some more. I sadly was relegated on the ride with a poor call from the officials (I can back it up with photos). Though I was upset about the relegation I was really upset to see Joe get injured. The relegation put me into the 5-8 ride. I took out all of my frustrations in that ride and took it pretty easily with a textbook ride proving I did not belong there.
The next session started Saturday morning with team sprint. I teamed up with Nate and Kevin for team sprint. After waiting around for over four hours more than we anticipated we finally went off for team sprint. The start was less than perfect with Kevin and I both having some issues with the people holding us. But we both got on and turned a decent time. Thankfully the time was just enough to take the win over the Mexican team. After a quick nap and food the evening session kicked off with keirin. The session was delayed from the start due to some rain. Once the rain cleared up we began racing immediately which cut warm-up very short. Thankfully I spun on the rollers in the bike room during the delay. The first round of keirin went off with out a hitch except for the nasty headwind on the back-straight. The wind became a major factor for the entire evening of racing but the rain stayed away. The semi final ride went just like the qualifying heat and I lead it out even through the wind to stay out of the crap in the back. I knew the final was going to be a crazy ride. Bernard had lead out all of his rides and it looked like he would do the same in the final. My plan was to get his wheel and try to pass him coming out of the last turn. Right off the start I got Bernard’s wheel and all looked good. Once the motor pulled off though it went to crap. J was able to thread his way infront of me and take second wheel. This caused me to change the tactics for the race. I finagled my way out of being boxed in and made a huge run on J and Bernard coming out of turn two. I went right over the top and was able to get by Bernard coming out of turn four to take the win. It was a sick ride and really made me realize why I love this crazy sport.
Although I had some very unfortunate luck at times during the week, overall it was a great camp and race. I had awesome time meeting and working with the camp guys and working with the coaches Travis and Abers. A huge thank you to Jamie Staff and USA cycling for the amazing opportunity and support through the camp. Also a big thanks to everyone who made the US Grand Prix of Sprinting such a great event. I am really excited to come back next year. I’m back home now and will be racing at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center this Friday in the Golden wheel race. I am looking forward to seeing all the camp juniors next week at Junior Nationals here in T-town, Goodluck guys!
The month of June has always been the kickoff to the race season in T-town and the summer of racing for me. This year June was better than usual since the first three weeks were all major sprint events. The first race was the US Sprint grand Prix and proved to be a great night of racing. The lead up to the event was great with a press conference and interviews about the battle between myself and Jon Paul from great Britain that would play out on the track. Friday looked ominous all week due to rain and the racing was postponed to Saturday night. The event kicked off on Saturday evening with the qualifying 200m times. My time ended up being fastest with a 10.51. Who would have thought that I would ever go into a sprint tournament with the fastest 200. The sprint rounds started off well and both JP and myself moved through to the final round. The final came down to the wire in both rides but I was able to best him and take the win.
The second week of racing was Keirin Cup which is by far my favorite event of the year. I went into the event with a little added pressure since I was defending champion in the event and a bunch of fast international guys arrived earlier that week. Keirin Cup started with a bang with some great rides and close finishes in the heats. I was able to move through to the final which turned out to very stacked field of Olympians and great international riders from Canada, Netherlands and GB to name a few.
The final started out pretty crazy with the Canadian racer making an early move and leading out the sprint with a quick effort right off the motor. I was able to draft off him and then make my move with a lap to go. The early sprint allowed me to be in a great position and take the win with a long sprint. The third week of racing was by far the most challenging and highly contested. The UCI Festival of Speed combined both a sprint tournament and keirin for us all in one day. The day started off with the 200m TT and preliminary rounds of sprints. The 200m went pretty well but the time was not great due to some tough conditions which slowed everyone down. I ended up third after the 200m with J leading and Kevin second. The first rounds went off without a hitch for me. They proved to be very entertaining though as Kevin and one of the Trinidad riders duked it out in animated few rounds.
The evening session started off with the semifinal ride. I faced off against Kevin and was able to take the win and move on to the final. In the final I faced J and we had two very close rides both came down to a photo finish. Thank god there was a guy with the finish line cam app on his Ipad to verify the results. I ended up losing both rides to J by the slimmest of margins. I was a little disappointed but I really learned a ton from the rides and could not wait to rematch J in Colorado in a few weeks. With a little rest we started the keirin and just rode semis and finals. I was able to move through the semis without an issue and was ready for battle in the final. The final was another animated ride. I took the motor and J followed right on my wheel. When it pulled off one of the Americans riders, Jon came around the outside with a huge effort. I kept him on my hip and used him to keep the rest of the pack in check. On the last lap I really hit it and opened up a gap that J followed right away. We flew down the back-straight and I gave it all I had. I was able to hold off J’s charge from behind and took the win. The month of June was a great month of racing in T-town. It is always awesome to race in front of a hometown crowd and perform well. It was a very tough month for me but getting through it made me stronger and gave me a bigger purpose in riding. Off the Colorado next for the US Grand Prix of Sprinting.
With the conclusion of the Pan American Championships and the Revolution my track season for this year was officially over. I had two weeks off to enjoy life again and do all the things I can’t do while I am training when I got back. Needless to say all my “off” time was spent catching up on missed school work and getting back into the swing of things at home. It was nice to finally update the blog and get to talk to friends again. Right now my training has started again and is back to full gas. With only 1218 days until the Rio Olympics I need to make use of every opportunity I have. I am building on the support system I have right now and expanding it to get the necessary support and help to carry me through to the Games and hopefully beyond. I sat down with my coach (also my dad) this week and we are working off a fresh slate now to figure out exactly what I need to get me where I need to go. I am looking at some amazing opportunities in front of me and I want to use them to their fullest potential. I know what I have been doing is working so it is just a matter of building on that to get me to the next level, this is only the beginning.
I am really happy to be partnered with so many amazing people and companies, some I’ll mention here others I’ll write about in the coming weeks. I cannot thank Felt Bikes and Doug Martin enough for supporting me with all aspects of my cycling career by providing me hands down the best bikes on the track and road today. Very pleased to be a member of the Felt family for the foreseeable future.
I am also very excited to say I will be representing K’NEX again this season. They are a great company that has been supporting me for a number of years now. I am very thankful to have their support and to be a part of the K’NEX family. If you have never heard of K’NEX they are a toy company based out of Pennsylvania that produces my favorite childhood toy. It is awesome to know that K’NEX are made right in Hatfield, PA and have gotten to see first hand the state of the art manufacturing process.
Recently I have also begun working with a new strength coach at an awesome gym near my home. Tim Moyer and the guys at NexGen are amazing. We are in the process of revamping my training schedule and a bit of the methodology to get the most out of every workout. Very happy to be working with such knowledgeable guys as Tim and his staff. Looking forward to some awesome gains in the gym and also on the bike! If you are in the area check out NexGen in Telford, PA. It is an athlete focused gym with some great coaches and staff applying the best training techniques to athletes of all ages and abilities. It also helps to have a state of the art facility to train out of. Check them out at: www.nexgenhptc.com
I have a lot of work to do to get where I need to go but I am progressing really well and seeing the results which makes it all worth it. Right now it is time for a huge training block before the summer race season hits. It is a very exciting time for me as I am surrounding myself with a great support system to help me get where I need to go! I can’t thank my supports and followers enough, especially my parents and family without you guys I would not be anywhere close to where I am.
“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today” – Malcom X
I started off my first elite International race with the Pan- American Championships in Mexico City a few weeks ago. The racing and experience was great! The trip started off a little tough though when we drove around for an hour or two with a van drover who only spoke Spanish trying to figure out which hotel was ours. In case you didn’t know Canadians can’t speak Spanish at all, sorry Trav. After that little in-devour we settled into the hotel and tried to walk to the track to build bikes and ride rollers. We walked for a while and found a track, only problem was it was the old Olympic track that was outside. After walking through the rain for an hour we got back to the hotel to learn the track we were supposed to go to was 1k in the opposite direction.
After an interesting first day everything settled down a bit. We had one day on the track before racing started and used it to get ready to race. The track was awesome, small building with no spectator seating but a nice fast race surface and some crazy altitude. All our times were crazy quick on the track but so were everyone else’s.
The event started off for me with team sprint where I joined my teammates Nate and Kevin. We set a great time in qualifying and qualified fourth in the morning session. At the time we had no idea what the time actually we only learned it was a new National Record after when we were about to head back to the hotel. We were all pretty stoked to learn that the time was that good but we still had the final to go. We rode the bronze medal final against Columbia and pulled off the win to get bronze. We all were very happy with the result and kept the momentum going into the rest of the week.
Team Sprint Boys and Trav
Next up for me was the keirin, my favorite event. It was a completely different keirin than I had ever ridden in my career. The South American style of racing is very different than what I was used to but ultimately staying patient and riding smart paid off. In the heats I got boxed in but waited it out and was able to move out and go through to the semis. The semi final ride was crazy with a crash and all kinds of bumping but I was able to ride through to the final. The final was a totally different story. I had great position from the start but the Colombian guys moved up and took the first two spots almost too easily and put me in a tough spot. I had to make a big move early and decided the only way by them was to go right off the motor. When the motor pulled off I put a huge effort in and took the front. I tried to let one guy by to get a draft and did but ultimately the move was a bit too early and I could not hold on to the end. I was able to hang onto fifth though. Ultimately this was a pretty good start for me in the international level of cycling.
My last event was the sprints and I really had one goal going in. That was to go under 10.0s in the 200m. I was able to do it with a 9.98s 200m tt. Although it was not close to the national record I was really pleased to be only the third American to go under 10.0. This time placed me in 11th. The first rounds of sprints went great and I moved through to the quarter finals. The quarterfinal rides did not go perfectly and I ended up loosing the third ride by less than an inch. I made some mistakes in my rides but I can learn from them and make my next ride better. I ended up sixth in the sprints after the final.
Team Sprint guys rocking the Good Karma Racing Shirts and hardware
The entire trip was a great experience for me and was a great first elite level international trip for me. I learned a ton from this trip both on and off the bike. It was great to be in Mexico with an awesome team and staff around me. Big thanks to USA Cycling and their awesome staff on the trip from Jamie, Travis and Ben to Viggo. Special shout out to Trav for filling in for Jamie when he was sick for most of the trip and also not flipping out when the drug testing guy spilled my pee all over his leg. The rest of the team was great to hang out with and get to know them all. I am really looking forward to more trips ahead with the team sprint guys. We all learned when the Mexican chef says the salsa is hot it is HOT!!