For competitive cyclist Tom Hanley, everything is going according to plan. The Marian College junior is methodically ticking off the goals he set for himself a year ago when he went to Elite Track Nationals for the first time. He defines his experience there as “a steep learning curve,” and one that galvanized his intent to win a national championship by putting together a year’s worth of objectives all leading to one thing: the 2006 Elite Track National Championships in Los Angeles this October.

A big check mark for Hanley was his overall domination of this weekend’s American Velodrome Challenge (AVC) at Major Taylor Velodrome, not only qualifying him for Elite Nationals, but signaling that he is on form in time for his two biggest events of the year. The 19-year-old business administration major with a pre-law concentration from Dublin, Ohio, will compete in the Collegiate Track National Championships being held at Major Taylor Velodrome Sept. 21-23, two weeks prior to Elites.

“I was very pleased,” said Hanley, who won the Kilometer Time Trial and the Keirin. “I have been focusing on training for nationals and doing track full-time.”

The AVC is a series of track races held at velodromes around the country with the purpose of qualifying regional racers for Elite Nationals. Each AVC event features endurance races (like the Pursuit, Scratch and Points races) as well as sprint races (like the Keirin, Kilometer Time Trial and Matched Sprints). Major Taylor’s version of the AVC included $4,000 in prize money from Delta Faucet for the mass-start events on Friday night, as well as an omnium title. Contenders for the omnium earned points for placing well in each event, and were given a high-tech incentive to do so by Zipp Speed Weaponry, as they donated two sets of carbon racing wheels for the men’s and women’s overall winners.

Hanley was one of only three men to qualify in both sprint and endurance disciplines, and his strong performances earned him the omnium title and the Zipp wheels. Multitime National Champion Curtis Tolson and Jackie Simes IV also qualified for both disciplines. Tolson is preparing for the World Masters Track Championships being held in England this September. Simes, whose father and grandfather are both Cycling Hall of Fame inductees, was among those who traveled from the East Coast to compete at Major Taylor.

Elite women

It has been a good season for women’s racing at Major Taylor. Women of all ages — from 15-year-old juniors to masters in their 40s — compete locally in one big group in hopes of improving their fitness and tactical prowess in national events. The fields have been some of the biggest we’ve had in years, and the competition is daunting.

As a result, the contention for the omnium title — and the sweet Zipp wheels — came down to the last event on Saturday morning, the matched sprints. Mindi Martin, a 29-year-old home inspector from St. Louis, won the omnium by one point and is now qualified for Elite Nationals. Three of us, Martin, Bri Kovac and myself, qualified for both sprint and endurance events, and 15-year-old Brooke Crum of Ohio also qualified for the sprint disciplines.

Martin was pleasantly surprised with her results and is now focused on getting the financing together to make the trip to Los Angeles. “I was just winging it,” said Martin, who describes the track scene in St. Louis as “relaxed.” She added, “I’ve never been to track nationals, so I guess what I expect to gain from the experience is the experience itself.”

As for me, when the racing was done, I felt a wonderful sense of achievement and a distinct tiredness in my legs. Thanks, honey.

Michelle Bazemore is a competitive cyclist for the Delta Faucet Team and the vice president of the non-profit Major Taylor Action Committee.