Seven Records Set at Alpenrose Velodrome
By Dave Campbell
In addition the Alpine Velodrome Challenge, there was also plenty of racing action at the 2012 Marymoor Grand Prix in Redmond, Washington.
The 14th annual Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge (AVC) featured a top notch women contingent from across the nation and dominating performances from a pair of Portland men who have been racing internationally. Both fields combined to set a stunning seven records on the 268-meter track. $13,000 in cash was up for grabs to the fixed gear faithful that journeyed to Portland on July 13-15.
The highlight of opening night was 23-year-old Kevin Mansker (Project London 2012) destroying his own record in the kilometer against the clock. Mansker, a national team member, has been hunting records across the country this year, setting marks on no fewer than nine tracks. The current Pan American Team Sprint champion scorched the field in 1:06:91, taking nearly a second off his 2011 time. Canadian Jamie Shankland placed second, more than three seconds back.
Mansker also dominated the Kierin, an AVC favorite where the riders are wound up for six laps behind the motor/derny, prior to being released for two flat out laps. Launching his sprint out of turn four into the bell lap, he opened a 10-bike length gap, allowing him to sit up and salute the crowd along the entire home stretch. The margin and manner of victory was simply stunning. Mansker, who is a reservist for the London Olympics, continued his romp by knocking nearly a quarter of a second off his own track record in the 200-meter qualifier, recording speeds well over 40 miles per hour to clock a 11.06 seconds time under blustery and cool conditions. He went on to face a wiley veteran in the final — two-time Olympian and 18-time National Champion Giddeon Massie of Quakertown, Penn.
With back to back high level track events in Portland and Redmond, the best racers in the nation converged on the Northwest in July, providing exciting racing action and setting multiple records.
Mansker, in only his fourth year of racing, was undaunted and controlled the entire race from the front to win by two bike lengths. Massie did step up to the top of the podium in the Team Sprint, with young Portlander Dan Birman (Diamond Law) and Californian Nate Koch (Home Depot Center). The smooth well-synced power team overcame Mansker’s raw speed and a disjointed pairing with Californian Jack Lindquist (Ritte Racing) and fellow London 2012 teammate Dean Tracy of Portland.
In the final race of the weekend, Mansker destroyed his previous Flying Lap record, once again reaching over 40 miles per hour to post a 14.81, relegating Massie to second place once more.
The other homeboy triumphantly returning was Zac Kovalcik who spent the previous two months racing in Germany and Pennsylvania in Stayer Racing, also known as Motor Paced. Riding special bikes with reversed forks and smaller front wheels for stability and better draft in a field and behind a pacing derny, these races reach speeds of 60-90 kph over distances of up to 40 kilometers. Needless to say, the sometimes downtown Portland bike messenger — the first American Stayer racer in nearly 40 years — is fit and fearless.
The first event Kovalick took on was the Points Race. Ably assisted by his tenacious Sizzle Pie p/b Veloforma teammates, he scored in nearly every sprint and featured in most of the breakaways to win 41 points over the persistent Rob Evans of California who accumulated 24. The 10-mile Scratch race was more of the same with Sizzle Pie all over the front, taking home two-thirds of the cash primes. After covering every move, Kovalcik launched a scintillating attack with just over one lap to go to leave the field gasping in his wake as he saluted an appreciative crowd and his new track record. His relentless aggression and the constant commitment to a high pace by his team meant pure sprinters could not match the young man with the infectious enthusiasm in his charge for the line, which allowed him to break the 2010 mark of two-time US Olympian Jame Carney by more than six seconds.
Whereas two hometown heroes primarily dominated the men’s events, the women’s field had great depth. Stephanie Roorda (Local Ride/Dr. Vic Superfoods) of British Columbia took nearly six seconds out of crowd favorite Erin Glover (Bike Central) to win the 3000-meter pursuit in 4:00.80. Glover, a Portland grad student in mathematics, got the fans on their feet in the five-mile Scratch race. With cash money available to the lap leader, the “Pink Haired Dynamo” raced incessantly and aggressively with frequent forays off the front, racking up a leading tally of prizes, and then launched a long sprint to the finish that none could match. Missy Erickson (Home Depot Center) of Alexandra, Minn. was a distant second.
The women’s Match Sprint tournament opened with defending champion Dana Feiss of Trexlerton, Penn. (Home Depot Center) being put on notice when Tela Crane (Broadmark Capitol) outdid her in the qualifying round as she broke by .05 seconds the 11-year-old track record set by Olympian Jennie Reed (12.65). With four women posting times under 13 seconds, it was clearly going to be a spectacular contest. Feiss recovered well from her near crash in the qualifier to dominate her rounds (even recording a 12.59 along the way) to make it to the final. Crane’s earlier record performance wasn’t enough to deter scrappy local Nissy Cobb (KWC/Tempo) who only qualified 7th but used aggressive tactics to pin the faster Crane high on the rail and rattled her enough to get the jump and send “The Pain Train” Crane to the repechage rounds. Crane, however, battled through, including overcoming Cobb in round two to set up the title match against Feiss. In this fantastic finale, Crane came back in a desperate surge over an early charging Fiess to win by all of four inches to the great satisfaction of the crowd. Cobb overcame Portlander Jenn Featheringill (Bike Central), the 2009/10 Champion, for third.
Feiss dominated the Keirin event with a long charge that allowed her a two-handed salute at the finish line with two bike lengths to spare over Crane. Defending National Points Race Champion, Beth Newell (Now-Novartis for MS) of California, spent nearly half the race off the front in her specialty race, eventually taking a lap to seal the victory with 31 points. Glover, meanwhile, used her ferocious kick to win the double points final sprint and take the spirited battle for second place with 22 points to World Cup medalist Roordas’ 17. Sprint protagonists Feiss and Crane became an East-West power and fluid tandem when they combined forces for the Team Sprint event. The 39.48-second record for the two-lap race set by stalwarts Monique Sullivan and Cristin Walker last year was shattered by the two young talents as they posted a time of 39.20. Featheringill and National Six-Day Champion Alissa “Gator” Maglaty finished second with a 40.76 performance. Feisty Feiss shaved .04 seconds off the previous Flying Lap mark to win the final event in 16.90 seconds and claimed the last record-breaking performance of the weekend.
The overall Omnium standings were no surprise: Kovalcik and Mansker tied for first with 21 points as they recorded three wins in three events each. The tie couldn’t be broken so they split the prize money. The versatile Steven Beardsley (Gentle Lovers) was a distant third. Crane narrowly won the women’s contest with 20 points, one more than sprint rival Feiss. Glover bested Newell in an 18-point tie breaker for third, while Roorda rounded out the incredibly close competition with 17 for fifth place.
Dana Feiss (Home Depot Center) and Tela Crane (Broadmark) start the women's team sprint en route to establishing a new 39.30 record.
The Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge will return in July 2013 for its 15th edition, providing spectators with more action filled, outstanding performances. Hope to see you there.
Dave Campbell is a high school science and health teacher and cross-country coach in Newport, Ore. He is the announcer at AVC.