Last Sunday was the Sambazon San Diego Cup Club Challenge and when Geoff Doyle, the event organizer, from Swamis Cycling called me up to personally invite me, I just couldn’t resist. It looked like fun — and that’s pretty much why we’re all riding right? So I made my way down to San Diego Velodrome for a day of track racing. What I got was so much more than that.
The format was great — San Diego Cup is not a USAC event so no racing licenses were required (but you should have at least some track riding experience). For the Omnium, you could select which field you want to race in from the beginner D’s to the fast A’s and if you want to upgrade or downgrade during the day, that’s no problem. There was also a juniors field for riders under 12. The Team Pursuits and Sprint tournaments were open to everyone and on top of that there were a couple fun races like the Kid’s Race and the infamous Slow Race.
The sun was already beating down on the velodrome when I arrived at 9:30am. Many thanks to the San Diego Bicycle Club for sharing their canopy with me and my friend Chris Reed — the only other Angeleno who made it down for this. The first half of the day was for a couple rounds of Sprints and the Team Pursuit qualifiers.
The main event kicked off in the early afternoon as a nice breeze finally started to flow through the park. After the National Anthem, the opening ceremony consisted of introducing the participating teams as they paraded around the track. Being the local teams, Swamis Cycling and Adams Avenue showed up with big numbers. San Diego Bicycle Club also represented well in the Juniors field. I was introduced as the sole rider for Ride The Black Line (thanks, Geoff).
Pretty soon, the races were starting. And there was a lot of racing! I think I raced more on Sunday than any other track meet this year. The Omnium consisted of a Scratch Race, Miss-And-Out and a Points Race. There was never a lull in the program. At any given time, anyone who wasn’t racing was watching some of the exciting action going around the track and cheering on their team mates.
It was a pleasure watching former British Olympian Shaun Wallace time his attacks just right to steal each race. Wallace is a bit of a legend down there and everyone likes to talk about how he shows up to club rides on a forty-pound beach cruiser only to put all the carbon-riders to shame. So of course everyone was shocked to see him eliminated early in the Miss-And-Out — the great equalizer of track racers.
The Match Sprint tournament and other fun stuff continued between the Omnium events. The Slow Race was basically a fun game of foot down between the pursuit line and the finish line. Riders rode around and tried to force each other out, throwing shoulders and head butts. If you put a foot down, take your hands off the handlebar or ride out of bounds then you get eliminated — last rider standing wins. I almost won but those Adams Ave guys had it out for me!
Lycra was definitely not required to have a good time at the San Diego Cup Club Challenge. Outside the oval, the bleachers were full of spectators and fans who came to watch the races with coolers full of beer. There was a delish concession stand and Sambazon was handing out free refreshments. Lots of families strolling through Balboa Park stopped by and even allowed their kids to participate in the Kids Race — a couple laps around the apron of the track for the wee lil ones.
The San Diego Cup trophy was awarded to the team that racked up the most points throughout the day. Points were awarded not just for wins but also for participation so teams with a big turnout could get on the board. The big rivalry was between Adams Avenue and Swamis Cycling. I had to take off just before the last event started, the Team Pursuit final.
At this point, Swamis had a 5 point advantage and Adams Ave would have to win both the bronze final and gold final to win the Cup. Adams Ave won the Team Pursuit final and the $100 cash prize by two seconds but they did not clinch the bronze spot and the San Diego Cup was awarded to Swamis. Cash prizes were also awarded to individual winners for each event and there were quite a few primes laps during all the races courtesy of some of the event sponsors like bikebling.com.
All in all, the Sambazon San Diego Cup Club Challenge was an excellent day of track racing in a great atmosphere. The excitement never stopped for fans and racers alike. San Diego definitely has a great track racing scene and I’m really looking forward to making more trips down for some more races. Who knows… maybe at the next San Diego Cup a Los Angeles team will come down and swipe the trophy!
All photos were taken by Mark Johnson at Iron String. For more beautiful shots check here.