Last night marked the third Thursday Night Lights of the 2015 season at the NSC Velodrome. However, this was only my second night of racing on the track this season due to a couple of conflicts last week. The weather was absolutely perfect and my parents and aunt and uncle had driven up from southern Minnesota to watch me race at the track for the first time. Even at nearly 40 years old, I always appreciate having some family in the stands. I’m sure this added a little additional motivation to my legs on the night?  Thanks for making the trip up from Mapleton!

NSC Velodrome

(Left to Right) Danny Prenzlow (Dad), Susan Prenzlow (Mom), Zona Prenzlow (Aunt) & Joel Prenzlow (Uncle). I’m not sure who those two “photo bombers” are in the background? ; )

The Cat 1/2 field was pretty light with only 10 riders taking the rail for the evening’s slate of races. On tap for the group was a 12 Lap Tempo, Miss & Out, and 60 Lap Scratch Race. This was a very similar schedule to Week One, so I was really hoping I had learned what not to do to be a little more successful this time around.

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A full slate of races for all four fields.

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It sure looks like I am excited to race. . .

Warm-Up

I am really starting to understand the benefit of a solid warm-up (after how many years of racing?). It seems like the longer and more structured my warm-up, the better I tend to do in races. I pushed the pedals on the trainer for nearly an hour last night with 3 five minute hard efforts, several single-leg drills, and a few high rpm bursts towards the end of the warm-up. I am trying to find a routine that works well before the North Star Amateur Crits in less than two weeks.

NSC Velodrome

Sweating while keeping the legs warm after the first tempo race.

12 Lap Tempo

The first race on the schedule was a 12 Lap Tempo Race where the first rider across the finish line every lap gets two points and the second rider gets one. If you do the math, this pretty much equals 12 laps of pain. I knew if I was going to get any points against Daniel and Mattio that I would need to go out early, and this is exactly what I did. After the neutral lap, I powered to the front and took the first sprint. Zak was on my wheel, so I let him come around to give me a breather before going for the second sprint. My head was on a swivel as I was waiting for a few other guys to make their move. However, no one came around and I took the third sprint as well. In retrospect I’m pretty sure I could have gotten at least one point on the fourth sprint lap, but I decided to play it safe and jumped on the back of the group for the last seven laps.

NSC Velodrome

Neutral Lap roll-out for the 12-Lap Tempo Race.

Unfortunately, this is exactly when Daniel and Mattio attacked. A gap formed instantly and then I knew it would take everything my legs had left to not get lapped and lose the six points I had earned early on. Within two laps Daniel and Mattio had gained nearly a half a lap on the remaining field. I’m not sure I have ever looked across the track while racing so much in my life? I finally put my head down and gutted out the last two laps and narrowly snuck in before the hard-charging duo finished. I was able to keep my six points and earn a third place finish in the event.

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Picking up 6 early points in the 12-Lap Tempo Race.

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Holding on for dear life not to get lapped and lose my points.

Miss & Out

Even though the Miss & Out is a crowd favorite, I have never figured out how to race it well. In this race the last rider on the track every other lap is eliminated. As you can imagine, there are plenty of tactics on how to win this race. However, as long as I have been racing the Cat 1/2 Field, I have always been the rider who plays the “Devil” and ends up needing to sprint to avoid elimination every two laps. I’m usually able to do this five or six times with success before my legs and lungs have had enough. That is exactly how this race played out as I made it to the final four before getting gassed.

However, I’m sure my last several laps were relatively exciting for the crowd. At one point I was completely boxed in by Zak on the backside of the track before needing to “hit the brakes” and come around the long way to avoid elimination. My last two sprints were within inches as I waited for my number not to be called. I ended up fourth in the field and this is pretty much where I thought I would be at the end of the race.

NSC Velodrome

Hanging out as the “Devil” in the back of the field for the Miss & Out.

60 Lap Scratch

Our last race of the night was a 60 Lap Scratch. This race the easiest for the crowd understand as it is simply a 60 lap race without any intermediate points awarded. However, there was a T-shirt Prime at the halfway point of this race.

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I’m really not sure what point this is in the 60 Lap Scratch Race, but I don’t look all that happy?

The first 10 laps were pretty straightforward with each of us taking at least one half-lap pull on the front.  For the next 20 laps there were a series of attacks, but nothing stuck. However, Grant must have really wanted that T-shirt because he sprinted on lap 30 and Daniel and Mattio went with him. The three of them stayed away for a lap or two before Grant fell off the pace.

My legs were still recovering from bridging an earlier attack when I found myself in “no man’s land” riding by myself. Two riders were up the road and a group of four chasers followed. I was lapped by Daniel and Mattio around lap 45, but I was holding the gap of the chasers. I was able to pick up Grant, who started to take pulls and we gained on the chasing group as they were already jockeying for position. When we got within a quarter of a lap of the four chasers, I sprinted up to the group and couldn’t believe I was suddenly in third place on the track. Erin took the group sprint for third place, but I was happy to come in fourth after feeling completely out of it with 20 laps to go.

Overall it was another fun night at the track. A 3rd, 4th, and 4th place finish earned me a 4th Place in the overall Omnium—which ranks somewhere below kissing your sister. However, it was a great night of training and was really fun to see my family during and after the race. Thanks again!

 

For a recording of the live stream of the entire night, you can click on the following link.

Thursday Night Lights Live Stream
Brady Prenzlow owns Prenzlow Photography, rides for Erik’s Bike Shop, teaches at North Hennepin Community College, and loves everything about cycling from behind the lens and behind the bars.

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