Jim Poyser

Indianapolis will be hosting the U.S. Masters National Track Cycling Championships this week at Major Taylor Velodrome. For information about the competition, go to www.usacycling.org/events/2005/masters_track/ or call the Velodrome at 317-327-VELO.

NUVO caught up with one of the local competitors, Aaron Hubbell, and chatted with him about the upcoming races and track cycling in general. Aaron won numerous National Collegiate Championships while racing for Marian College in addition to winning a handful of Elite National Championship medals; he now primarily competes in local road races.

Q: Master's National Championships: So what does that mean?

A: A "master" designation means that a cyclist is 30 or older and the racers are grouped in five-year age brackets. The structure is supposed to make the racing fair for "older" cyclists, but as a 31-year-old it's really killing my ego. There are a number of different events, something for every type of cyclist - it will look more like a track and field meet.

Q: What about local racers?

A: All the local track sharks will be racing: Curtis Tolson, Bill Bedwell, Darin Marhanka, John Kelly, and I will be gunning for race wins. It's funny how many road riders suddenly decided to take up track racing this year!

Q: Are there any special challenges associated with this type of racing?

A: For someone new to track racing having only one gear, no ability to coast and no brakes can be daunting, especially at nearly 40 mph! Seriously, there are two aspects that are difficult to deal with: First is that track racing tends to be very specialized, so for most of us who compete locally in road races all summer we have to balance our road-fitness with the specialized demands of a 1-kilometer time trial, for example. Secondly we don't see many of these racers all year so it is hard to know exactly who your primary competitors are - you need to keep an eye on everyone.

Q: Tell us about the general landscape of cycling right now.

A: Armstrong's seventh Tour win has made bicycle racing relatively popular, compared to a few years ago at least. Gas prices have helped the popularity as well, but there is not much cross-over between bike racing and bike commuting; a commuter doesn't necessarily race, and vice versa. I'm happy to see people on bikes no matter what the excuse is - commuting, racing or just for fun.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for spectators?

A: The most exciting events will be held Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights, with racing starting at 5. Points races (an event with up to 30 racers) will be held each of those nights - they tend to be pretty thrilling. One more thing: Spectators get in for free!