The second UCI Track World Cup of the season wrapped up not too long ago. It was a great World Cup for me with bronze in the keirin but also because New Zealand was a great country to visit! I had never been to New Zealand or anywhere close to it before so I was excited to go. After a long flight and a few days to get used to the time change I was thoroughly enjoying the country. I felt right at home since the area we were in looked just like home in Pennsylvania, right down to the dairy cows and chipped roads. I now understand why the NZ sprinters love coming to T-town for the summer. Since I was in NZ for two weeks and most of that was before the World Cup I was to do something that I haven’t done before at a World Cup and that was be a tourist for a day and see Hobbiton.
Awesome to see Hobbiton
It was a very cool place and incredible to see the detail in the set and how the movies were shot. Tourist activities aside I really enjoyed New Zealand and we were spoiled to have a World Cup in an English speaking country with incredibly friendly people, beautiful roads, weather and a great velodrome.
Cows in New Zealand made me feel right at home
The racing started for me with the Keirin on Saturday as usual. I was sixth heat in the first round again and had some tough competitors to battle for the first spot and the second round qualification. I was able to ride a smart race to take the win and move on to the semis without the need of a rep. After the first round I went back to the hotel for a bit of rest and to get food before the semis that evening. Once back at the track the semis went off with a fast ride but I was able to take third and move onto the major final and to race for gold later on.
First race with this beautiful custom painted Felt tkFRD bike
The keirin final in New Zealand was one of the craziest keirins I have been in. I got a bad position on the line and ended up fifth behind the motor. I was unable to match the jump of the rider behind me right off the motor to get to the front. The race went full gas from two and a half laps to go on. I was patient and waited for any opportunity to move up, sadly there were none. I saved everything for the final half lap and set it up to make a run in the last turn. The two Germans in front of me had the same idea and we all went over the top of the rest of the field. In a super close finish I was able to take bronze. After watching the video of the race a few dozen times I think I made the best move possible from where I was. I am thrilled with how I rode in the keirin all day in NZ and very honored to have won my second World Cup medal.
Thanks to Powerbar for fueling me through long race days at the track
Sunday was sprint day for me. My day was cut short when I couldn’t advance out of qualifying. The keirin the day before has always killed me for the 200m at World Cups. After Cali we tried to change a few things in training and how I rode the 200. Some of it worked but most did not and the 200m in NZ went worse than Cali. I still have a few more things I want to try for Hong Kong and see if we can’t finally get it. The good news is I can turn the times necessary to qualify I just haven’t been able to do it 10hrs after the keirin final. I am looking forward to Hong Kong and getting to hone my keirin racing a bit more and see what we can do for the Sprints. A sprint spot in the Games is looking doubtful with points but the keirin spot is very much secure. A big thank you to the USA Cycling staff we had in NZ for taking great care of us and giving us the opportunity to compete at our best.
Cool little Kiwi bird podium present and the bronze medal
On Friday I was named to the Olympic Long Team for the United States in Rio alongside some other great athletes. You can read the USA Cycling Press Release here. The long team is the team that the final Olympic Team will be selected from in a few months. It lists all the riders with the possibility of being named to the team. It is true honor to be one step closer to representing my country in the Rio Olympics. I could not have done any of this without the support of my family, sponsors and USA Cycling. Thank you all for believing in me and granting me an amazing opportunity.
The first World Cup of the 2015/16 season wrapped up on Sunday in Cali, Colombia. Cali is a special place for me since I had a great World Cup there last year and got my first World Cup medal. I was very excited to be in Cali again and get to race there. Just like last year we did a small prep camp in LA at the Velo Sports Center. It was great to get on a 250m track again and get to some speed work before heading to Cali. The prep camp went really well and I felt very confident going into the World Cup.
Photo Credit: Guy Swarbrick
The World Cup started out great for team USA with the girls earning a silver medal in the TP and setting the stage for the rest of the World Cup. I started with the keirin the next day. In the first round of the keirin I had great position off the motor but got forced back a little when things reshuffled. I took the long way around and went over the top with one lap to go. I was able to take the win and move onto the semi final without the need of a rep. This in itself was a huge improvement over last year. After a small break we were up for the semi final in a stacked heat. It was a very fast heat and I was able to move around and follow the Aussie rider to the front and take second moving onto the major final.
Photo Credit: Thais Mollet
The final was a stacked field with the best riders in the world, nothing like lining up next to the World Champion. The final was full gas from the start and we hit speeds of 80km/h. I rode really strong in the final I just made one mistake with two laps to go I had to pick which wheel to follow and I chose the World Champ and the other ended up winning. One of those split second decisions you don’t really think about just move and go with your gut. This time it didn’t pan out exactly how I wanted but I am still really happy with how I rode and that I was able to make some serious progress from last year to this year.
The World Cup continued for me on Sunday with the 200m tt and the sprints. After about 5hrs of sleep and a 6am wake up I was back at the track for the 200m. I could not get the legs to come around after the keirin at all. I gave it my all in the tt and came up short, the time was no where near where I was in training but it was all I had in me.
Overall, I am very pleased with how the first World Cup went and it set a great precedent for the remainder of the season. It was great to prove to myself and everyone else that I will be a contender in the keirin this year and beyond. A few key things came together for me this time; a lot of the mental training I have been working on with Dr. K.C. finally came together, my training and prep for Cali was really good and I went in on top form and USA Cycling put together a great team of staff to support us. It was a great honor to represent my country on the World Cup level and perform well on the international stage. A big thank you to USA Cycling as well as all of my sponsors for allowing me the opportunity to compete against the best in the world and have the necessary tools to perform at my best.
Great to meet these hard working juniors from NY at Nationals and hear about their programs to get kids on bikes.
USA Cycling track National Championships wrapped up last weekend. It was a great week of racing and this year proved to be even more rewarding than past years. This was the first year that Junior and Elite Nationals were combined into one event. I was very skeptical of how this would work but I have to admit the Velo Sports center and USA Cycling pulled off a great event. The juniors competed first then the elite and there were only a few sessions that overlapped. It was very cool to have the juniors at Nationals and get to see some of their races as well as meet many of the kids. I enjoyed hearing about the development programs that tracks across the country are running. There are so many people around the country that are sacrificing their time and resources to get kids on bikes and allow kids the opportunity to compete.
The Felt TK1 on the ERO fit jig getting dialed in.
Nationals started for me on Wednesday with the kilo. In the days leading up to the kilo I had the opportunity to adjust my kilo position with the experts at ERO Sports. They got me dialed in on some new bars and made sure we were UCI legal. I worked with them this spring to do some aero testing and critique my sprint position. They are some of the most knowledgeable people I have met about bike fits and aerodynamics. With a corrected kilo position I was able to win the kilo with a 1:03.3s. It was not quite as fast as I had hoped but with very little actual kilo training this year, I’m happy with it.
My second event at Nationals was the Team Sprint. I was really excited to team up with Dave and a younger guy from T-town James Mellon. James turned some really good times in T-town this year in the 200m so I was excited to see what he could do as man 2 in team sprint. Our qualifying ride was good but not as fast or smooth as we were hoping but we still got into the gold medal final. In the final we really put everything together and had a smooth and fast time. Everyone did their part and the guys really busted it and for the first time all year we went sub 46s. I was really pleased with this ride and even better was that all three guys on the team were either Penn State Students or Penn State Alumni. We Are….
Sprints were next up for me and I was already starting to feel the legs from a kilo and two rides as man three in team sprint. I really wanted to nail the 200m since it was something I have struggled with and worked very hard to change in the past few months. I turned a 10.28 which was my pb on the Velo Sports Center by a lot! The time was a big step in the right direction for me and some great confidence going into Pan Am champs in a few weeks. I know I can take a bit more time off that too so I am very excited for Pan Am Champs. The sprints went really well for me with some great rides. I faced Giddeon in the final which was awesome to see him back on the track. The rides were very tactical and some fun but I was able to take the win.
Hardware from the week
The keirin was the last event for me at Nationals and of course my favorite. I really wanted to win and repeat with four National titles on the week. My legs felt pretty dead in the morning but I made it through to the final. The final was a great ride with aggressive moves from some of the younger guys but I was able to take the lead with a lap to go and hold it to the line.
Nationals this year was a great week for me with four National titles and the opportunity to meet so many junior riders and see the future of our sport battle it out. I have to give a massive thank you to the Velo Sports Center staff and volunteers as well as the USA Cycling staff and officials who worked tirelessly all week to make the event great for the athletes. I know I speak for most of the riders when I say events like this would not be possible without you guys. This year was much better for me across the board mainly since I went in with a much better attitude. I owe this to Dr. K.C. Wilder who has been helping me work on my mental game. She is an expert in mental edge training and really helped me develop a competition and training attitude that works well for me. Check her out on twitter: @kcwilder I added a new page to my site titled My Team where I highlight the individuals like Dr. K.C. who have helped me get where I am today.
“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.
Posted in Uncategorized
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!