Wednesday, February 3, 2010

49 Days and Counting Until the World Championships

When you are racing against history there is no shame in taking second. Jack Bobridge was able to ponder this thought yesterday when he won the 4k individual pursuit and took home the Australian National Champion's jersey. Only one man in history has ridden the 4k faster than Bobridge's 4:14.427 and if you don't know his name you need to stop reading my blog right now. I encourage you to come back later of course. I simply request that you do a little homework first. I'll give you a hint. It was Chris Boardman. Stay tuned for a track cycling history lesson in the coming weeks. Don't hide your excitement. Let it flow.

My love for the individual pursuit is strong and pure. Turning yourself inside out while staring at that black line for over four minutes is not for ordinary men. Winning this event takes more than a quick turn of speed and the ability to count your laps. It takes guts. It takes heart. It takes an appreciation and understanding of those who have left their sweat and tears on the boards before you. The great champions of this discipline have been students of pursuiting. Those who have been truly successful have been so because they have studied every possible way to gain fractions of a second in their attempt to land on the top step of the podium while they are serenaded by their national anthem. The number all great pursuiters are chasing? 4:11.114.

It is certainly disappointing that success in track racing is not rewarded with global fanfare. Our country was once passionate about the velodrome but now you are more likely to see an American Idol runner up on the cover of The New York Times than you are a track cycling world champion. When Taylor Phinney brought home the gold last year he was the first American to do so in 16 years. If only it had happened on a day when The Bachelor was in reruns.

On March 24th the UCI Track Cycling World Championships will descend upon the city of Copenhagen. Phinney will be there. Bobrick will be there. Will you be watching? You know I will.

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