Racing bikes in the US of A

Sam Dakin supporting young kids at The Velodrome

Photo Credit: Dan Chabanov

27th May 2019. I boarded the plane bound for my 4th year spending June in a place called Kutztown located in Pennsylvania USA. A place where it is not uncommon to come across the Amish people who are still riding around in their horse and carts. 

This year was a little different though. The past 3 years I have been there on a self funded campaign but this year I had the privilege of being there with the Cycling New Zealand National Sprint team for 5 weeks. We were there to earn valuable points in the 8 UCI races on offer while still focusing on important development leading into the summer season at the end of the year. Having never had a trip organised for myself before there was something pretty surreal about turning up to the airport with just my personal bag and a passport to board the plan. Having a physio to ensure you are not going to break, a mechanic to change your gears and a coach and sports scientist there to give you feedback after each race. Myself, along with some of my best mates are so lucky to lead this life. One where we simply get to jump out of bed everyday and ride our bikes, see the world and get the ability to truly chase that ultimate winning feeling at the highest level. 

It was some of the hardest racing I’ve had in T town since I’ve been going there and some of the hardest racing I have had full stop while racing track. With male riders from 17 different countries competing over the month it sure made for one epic month of pedalling in circles. T town track is a little different to your normal velodrome that you would see on tv or here in Cambridge. It’s bumpy, made of concrete and is an extra 83m long than your standard 250m track which changes that way a lot of the racing pans out.

I had some great results throughout the racing with some of my best finishes in the sprint competition with a 7th place in a Tier 1 event and bettering my fastest time for my flying 200 on the track in T town. Finishing off the 5 weeks with a 3rd place in Keirin Cup on the final day was a great way too finish it all off. Plenty of learnings, laughs and all round good times. It was now time to pack and have some down time.

For most people when they go travelling it is a pretty simple process. Have your passport, pack your suitcase and maybe a few other things. For cyclists travelling with a team it is quite the logistical nightmare. Each person has two bikes and there was 11 of us. That meant 19 odd bike boxes and another 11 or so other pieces of luggage to pack on Saturday in the 30 degree heat at the track. We were all very thankful for the iced coffee that was close by after we had finished.

The trip didn’t end without a bit of drama when only 8 pieces of luggage turned up in Auckland when we landed early on Wednesday morning. Eventually we located them still in Houston and it was time to head home for a few flat whites and some down time before heading back to Cambridge the following week to get back into training as we build towards Oceania Championships from the 16th – 19th October in Invercargill.

Stay tuned for the next update as we get closer to competition season!

Until then, happy riding and hope everyone is having a great weekend!



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