Kevin puts on the Sprint Tournament series which runs monthly. A very fun way to spend an afternoon at the track.
1. How did you get started riding at the track?
I saw my first track race in 1980 at Hellyer during the Don Peterson era. I had just started riding recreationally - centuries, back and forth to school/work - and thought the track racing was very cool but that the racers were nuts! You'd never catch me out there. Way too dangerous. Never say never....
In 1991, after racing triathlons, then road races and finally kind of finding my niche doing crits, my friend and competitor Peter Tapscott and I thought we'd give the track a try. My comfort zone on the bike had increased to the point that I no longer thought trackies were crazy and that someone like me with a bit of speed and only mediocre climbing ability might do ok on the track. I forget who exactly suggested it, but Pete and I went down together and the rest is history. I cobbled together an old road bike frame as my first track bike and raced that first year on it with pretty good results. I had my first State (Districts back then) Championships podium appearances that first year - three second places and one third. One guess who beat me in every race that year - Peter!
2. You've been on the podium at both nationals and worlds (and a past national champion). Where is the best place you've raced? (Aside from Hellyer)
That's a tough one. There are a lot of cool tracks around - each with it's own personality. Manchester is a fabulous facility with showers and a restaurant. Alpenrose is one of the most fun tracks to ride. If had to choose though, after Hellyer, it'd probably be Colorado Springs. Great track to ride. The altitude is good for big speed, and the nearby mountains are spectacular!
3. The sprint tournaments will occur on March 7, April 25, May 8, June 20 and July 18. I know what a fun way it is to spend a Sunday afternoon, but why should everyone come try match sprinting?
Match sprinting is like no other bike racing event. Most of the time it's head to head with only one other rider, so it's more like a boxing match that requires both strength and skill, and the ability to put your opponent in a position that maximizes your strengths and his or her weaknesses. It both teaches and demonstrates bike handling skills, acceleration, max speed, reaction quickness and quick thinking. Even those riders whose genetic attributes tend toward the endurance events would benefit from racing the occasional match sprint. You never know when the race is going to go up the road without you because you didn't react quickly enough to a big attack.
4. I'm a new racer to the track and have maybe done a Tuesday night or a Get Ready for Summer race. Will I have to race those really fast guys in a sprint tournament?
Nope. Over the years the sprint tournaments have morphed more into a way of slowly coaxing riders through the learning and training process than a real "tournament". The racing is real and the competition is real, but it's designed so that you get a chance to race against riders that are nearly the same speed.
Everyone does a 200 meter time trial to start. A traditional sprint tourney is set up like a tennis tournament in that the 200 meter is a seeding event. Based on times, only a certain number of riders are even allowed in the tournament. Nationals, for instance, usually will only have 12 riders make the tournament - out of maybe 25 to 30 starters doing the 200. Then the fastest rider races the slowest of the 12. Number two races number 11 and so on. It's designed so that the two fastest riders have the best chance of racing each other in the finals. That works great for championship races and everyone should practice the event, but our tournaments are designed to let everyone race, and that requires a little different approach.
After the 200's we break the larger group into groups of 6 riders - all based on 200 meter times. From that point each group of six riders race among themselves, doing three 2 up races (two riders in each race) and one three up. That way, every rider gets four races against riders of similar speeds. It gives everyone the chance to work on tactics as well as just pure speed. Mark Rodamaker suggested the format several years ago and it's worked very well - thanks Mark
We may run more traditional tourneys later in the season, but we'll break those into two or more separate tournaments and again the riders will race folks of similar speed and experience.
5. Another new racer here with a question: The riders go really, really slow. It almost seems as if they are going to stop on the track. Won't the bike fall over? Why do they do that?
The very slow, cat and mouse game, keeping the race short with a big acceleration over the last 200 meters is a way of trying to set your opponent up by forcing them to go to the front and leading you out. Track stands - stopping the bike and balancing - were an art form, so much that the UCI created new track stand rules to keep riders from jumping the bikes or backing them up.
The irony is that we're now seeing less and less of that style of match sprinting. Especially at the international level, the top riders are going so fast that the speed starts much earlier and the races are top end much longer. I suspect at least part of this change is due to the fact that the best sprinters are also the best kilo and kierin riders, so they have the endurance to go fast longer.
6. Wrestling, triathlon, cycling..you've done a lot! You are mostly retired from racing now, correct? Do you still ride for fun? What else do you do to stay active?
Yeah, I've "retired" several times over my racing years, so again never say never, but I haven't raced since 2006 and probably won't again at the level I did when I won my national championships. I have a huge respect for riders like Larry Nolan and Mark Rodamaker that race at a very high level year after year, 'cause I can't do that.
I do still ride on a pretty regular basis. Anne and I have a tandem that we love to tool around on. I just moved to the Evergreen area of San Jose, so even though I won't be racing "seriously", the track is now only ten minutes from home. I can't not go over and ride!
7. You and your wife Anne are musicians. Where can we find you guys performing?
We have a regular once every couple of months gig at Angelica's Bistro in Redwood City. Great place to see music. Great place to eat and drink. We play at a lot of open mics, but we're so busy with family stuff, work, a new house, trying to get our exercise in, we're limiting any other real shows for a while. I'll keep everyone on my music mailing list though for any upcoming shows ;->
8. What musical instruments do you play?
Well, I play "at" the guitar and the piano, but I consider my voice my main instrument. I play the other things well enough to accompany our singing and not make a complete fool out of myself.
9. Which decade had better music? The 60s, the 70s or the 80s?
What about the 90's? The first ten years of this century? There's SO much great music out there that I'm not sure I have an answer for your question.
10. The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?
The Beatles - yeah, yeah, yeah!