By Mikey Keith
Whoa, what a camp that was! I went to track camp last year, and it was awesome, but this year was totally different. First off, last year we were pretty much all novices. This year, it seemed like most of the team had experience on the track coming into the camp, which was awesome. Secondly, it felt like there were far more people there; both on our team and overall. And third, it didn’t dump it down like last year. I even got my tan on, ah yeah! After pretty much no summer since last August, I feel better looking a couple of shades darker. Plus a chance to even out my arm tan lines is never to be sniffed at….
What a motley crew indeed, in the best possible sense.
2012 saw the camp moved from Dick Lane in Atlanta to the Giordana Velodrome in Rock Hill, SC. This velodrome is a new installment, part of a greater plan to turn Rock Hill into a little sporting mecca. The velodrome itself is world class, and the plans to build a BMX track (London Olympic replica) and an mtb course are underway. I definitely felt stoked to be a part of it (albeit a small part) right at the beginning. What a fantastic venue and support staff! A definite thanks to Kyle, Steve, and everyone else who made it all go down like a well crafted beer. The team was especially stoked to hang out with Mars Hill alum Kyle Knott, who is the new program manager at the velodrome.
Freshman Sarah Felpel enjoying her first time on a velodrome.
Friday afternoon saw us pack up bikes, bags, loaner bikes, ourselves and finally Alan. The drive to Rock Hill was pretty chilled, no big deal. Tim, Jeremiah and Mait raced the local track races that night, with Tim and Jeremiah duking it out in the A race and Mait dishing out the pain in the B race. Overall, a pretty good showing by the Mars Hill boys! That night we rolled on out to Addy’s grandparents house in Charlotte (conveniently 20min away), where we were met with a fantastically warm welcome from Addy’s mum and stepdad. The supper was all laid and waiting for us to tuck in. So good to chow down on some home cooking again….needless to say, I didn’t move for the rest of the night!
Saturday woke up bright and early. Less than ideal, I am of the firm opinion that weekends are not for getting up early on…I’m going to have to get used to not having a little lie in! Soon though we were on our way back down to the velodrome to get started on some fixie riding! Not me though, I am currently designated media guy. A separated shoulder will do that to you….more on that later though. So whilst the newbies were being instructed on how they won’t slide down the banking and that track bikes have no brakes, the crafty vets were getting in some hot laps before pace lines and race practice began.
Some of the elite men warming up on day two.
The point of the whole camp is to teach new riders to track racing the basic rules and regulations of a velodrome and what you should (and more importantly, shouldn’t) do. This then qualifies them for a track racing license and an opportunity to race at Collegiate Nationals. Of course, you want as many track riders qualify for Nationals as possible, so you take as many as the budget allows. The first day of camp was all about training and practicing how to ride on a velodrome with others. It’s a lot harder than it sounds or looks when you first give it a go, trust me. We did have a crash which resulted in one intensely dislocated elbow, and a severe concussion. Four separate people, same crash. Two from Mars Hill but they lucked out and walked away relatively unscathed. Luckily, no lasting damage that we know of yet. Still scary though! Track racing is definitely not for the faint of heart!
The rest of the day saw us swimming and relaxing, trying to escape the fierce South Carolina heat! Saturday night Addy’s parents cooked us yet another fantastic meal, outdoing the efforts of the previous night. This has certainly set a high standard that the rest of the year is going to have to put effort into beating! I thought I was full after three plates, but I discovered that I did in fact have space left when the chocolate cake was brought out. And I didn’t even ride…..I’m going to use the excuse of excellent home cooking and stick to it!
Cooling off at the pool afterward. It was 97+ degrees at the track.
Sunday started with us somehow getting lost on the way to the velodrome. So much for the Charlotte local’s directions…Starbucks soon cheered us up though, even though the camp co-ordinators weren’t too impressed with our complete lack of punctuality. The day was designated to racing so that we could all qualify for track nationals in a few weeks time. That meant individual pursuit, team pursuit, team sprint, kilo, and flying 200m sprint. We obviously entered at least one rider in each individual event and a team into each team event. Nobody really cared about their results in terms of standings, but rather what their time was and how dialed their technique/strategy was.
Overall, I reckon the camp was a success and everyone learnt a massive amount whether or not they had experience. Very definitely living up to the team motto of Always Improving! And as always, there were plenty of people helping us this weekend. Thanks go out to the team at the Giordana Velodrome for putting on this camp and getting everyone qualified for nationals. Then to Addy’s family for taking us in, feeding and accommodating us, and generally helping in every single possible way. You guys made the weekend superb! Thanks to all the people who lent some team members track bikes so they could put wheels to concrete. Literally couldn’t compete without them. And of course our team sponsors, without whom we wouldn’t be on bikes at events like these in the first place!
Oh and for photos, head over to the team Facebook page, and while you’re there, give us a like! http://www.facebook.com/marshillcycling