European Racing and Training: Freeplay Magazine

I’ve been training and racing in Europe and am writing about my adventures through Freeplay Magazine. Follow them to keep up to date with my posts. Here are my archived posts:

Korina Six Day BerlinVictory Lap at Berlin

Berlin Six Day (Part 1)

Bremen Six Day

Training (Fiets)

In Belgium!

Berlin Six Day!

10906168_767032866719066_5008340105268361713_nThanks to: FFWD, Marc Pro, Nuun, Castelli, SRAM, Specialized, Zealios, Clif Bar and The Sufferfest for all of your support!


Fixed Gear Classic

Second on the list for the National Track Calendar events was the Fixed Gear Classic taking place at the National Sports Center Velodrome (NSC) in Blaine, Minnesota. The NSC is an outdoor 250m wooden track, but much faster than the outdoor velodrome out in Frisco, TX.

Jennifer Zierke, is my partner in crime; she’s the Luigi of the Mario and Luigi Dream Team (Read last blog for details), she’s Tebow and I’m Brady, basically she’s my other half during track season.
tom and tebowWe’re both fortunate enough to be supported by our local velodrome, Hellyer.

970549_669660473049852_176927878_nHowever, we’re both working professionals and when it comes to taking time off to race our bikes- well, we have to pick and choose. Jen and I work Monday through Wednesday during the week of our bigger track races, fly out late Wednesday night after work and typically arrive early Thursday morning in (insert this weeks race location). It’s not ideal, but it’s the only way to balance work and racing.

We arrived in Minneapolis at 6 am, were picked up by a generous volunteer, Adam Weitzner, and dropped off at the track dorms which would be our home from Thursday through Sunday. We power napped like champs and awoke to our alarms set for us to have enough time to pre-ride the track before racing later that evening.
two tiredMy bike and I were on the same page
IMG_1242Pre-riding the track in every article of clothing I brought.

Thursday Night Racing:

Originally the only event on the schedule for endurance riders was a Points race which wouldn’t take place until later in the evening. Luckily they added a ‘warm up’ scratch race: winner gets a sweatshirt, no other placings matter. The ‘warm-up’ race was a great chance to open up the legs and helped me decide to jump up to a bigger gear for the points race since I would have otherwise been under-geared. During the warm-up scratch race I attacked with 7 to go and was able to get a solid gap. Though I kept thinking, If I burn my matches and win the warm up race my coach is going to be pissed!  I was caught with two to go and literally began my cool down for the last two laps. Jen attacked once I was caught, which was perfectly timed, and won the race.  So please congratulate her on becoming the official ‘Warm-up Champion’! 🙂

The Points race…my favorite!

We rode hard, sprinted, rode harder, and did math. I was 2nd to Cari Higgins. (This will be the theme for the Fixed Gear Classic)

One thing I really liked that the Fixed Gear Classic offered was gaming tickets for the fans to bet on a rider during each event. The person(s) who correctly guessed the winner won a gift certificate to a local restaurant and/or box of Nature Valley Bars. What a great way to get the fans more involved! I’m sure they could have taken it to the next level and got a spread for the omnium but that’s just my Charles Barkley gambling side talking.


The hard part of racing at night is having all day to wait around before racing.  We’re both ‘busy bodies’ so having to sit still is quite the challenge.

IMG_1266Bunk Beds: There’s so much room for activities!

Win n Out:
The win n out is a fun but tactically challenging race. You really have to play your cards right. For those not familiar with the win n out, according to ATRA: “First  rider across the finish line on the designated bell lap wins and retires from the race. First person across the finish line on the second lap is second and retires from the race, and so on. (On some shorter tracks, the sprint is every other lap).

Our group kept together and on the bell lap Cari attacked with a big enough jump to solidify her as 1st. Kate followed Cari’s attack and I sat on her wheel thinking about when to make my move to take second. We rolled through the start/finish, getting the bell, and with half a lap to go I attacked and was able to come around taking second and ‘retiring from the race’. Jen hung in a few more laps and was able to take 6th.

Scratch Race-
The most confusing race I’ve ever entered. Scratch races are the most straightforward mass start races there are. However, in this specific case the race turned out to be complete chaos. We had about 14 girls enter our race but about half of them got lapped by the main group at one point or another. After several attacks it was pretty apparent that I would not be able to get away. We rode as a group with several dropped riders re-entering our pack. This is when things got confusing, people would attack and the dropped riders would join the attack so we no longer had any idea of who was still in the race and who was down a lap. One rider broke away without most of the field noticing. So when we had a sprint finish, we were really racing for second since the ‘dropped rider’ was the winner of the event. I was third in the field sprint to Cari Higgins and Tela Crane, with Jen two riders behind me. Take away: always pay attention to what’s going on in the race and try to keep track of all riders.

993514_10100742459382498_2019566660_nSkinsuit: Jakroo   Wheels: Fast Forward Wheels   Photo: Erika Fulk- Detroit Spoke
Exergy had a great showing at the Fixed Gear Classic. It was great to see that Exergy supports track racing and their juniors. They raced smart and rode as a team using their numbers to their advantage. It made for great competition and fun racing!

Track stand competition:
Ughhh, why can’t I be cool enough to enter this event? Dear bike handling fairy, I know I asked for help with my no handed roller tricks but can you please teach me how to track stand?


Zak Kovalcik and Missy Erickson take the win in the Track Stand Competition.



Get to the front, stay near the front, don’t play the devil, ‘nough said.

999262_10100742457571128_773304653_nLove this photo from Erika Fulk taken during the Elimination race.

Team Sprint-

Jen and I are teammates for the Team Pursuit, the program that got us into track racing, so we used the team sprint as an opportunity to work on our standing starts.

Image: Erika Fulk Detroit Spoke

Madison- Our Madison got turned into a scratch race since there weren’t enough teams to hold the event. Jen and I had actually practiced how to madison the day before we left just in case we wanted to enter the Madison. We learned how to throw and practiced madison tosses while teams were practicing the team pursuit to simulate the chaotic atmosphere of the Madison. That Michael Hernandez is an evil genius!
Strava Madison
It was great to get to watch a Madison race for the first time and who better to learn from than the killer combo of Zak and Franco Marvuli
IMG_1319I finished the weekend taking 2nd in the Fixed Gear Classic Omnium, and my results bumped me up to 1st in the National Track Calendar for the Endurance events. I had such a great time racing at the Fixed Gear Classic. I loved being able to race with my Trinidad partner in crime- Shelby Reynolds. She’s always a smart racer who makes for great competition on the track and fun entertainment on the in-field.


Sunday Funday:

Minneapolis is called the ‘fun twin’ of the twin cities. We booked an evening flight giving us most of the day to explore the city. We walked through parks, checked out a waterfall, ate great food, and played tourists all day!!


Never forget that riding your bike is suppose to be fun!

IMG_1370Jen and I practicing our Madison throws aka holding hands.

8480_10100742462401448_65113154_nHuge thanks to Andrew Kruse, Linsey Hamilton, Adam Weitzner, Bob Williams, and all the volunteers that made the Fixed Gear Classic such a great event! It was a well organized event that brought out great competition and made the weekend a blast!

Track Racing in Texas

The National Track Calendar (NTC) kicked off this last weekend starting in Frisco, Texas. Frisco to Frisco-  give or take 30 degrees. Jennifer Zierke and I decided to commit ourselves to racing the NTC this season and are representing our local Velodrome, Hellyer.This was the first of six races that are part of the NTC spanning from California to Indiana.


117197504_64db97b9ebWe headed out Wednesday night after work and tried to pass time as our flight was delayed by a storm. We later learned that there were huge tornadoes that hit an hour south from where we were staying.

IMG_1006Jen watching YouTube videos of cats…what did I get myself into??

Evidently the saying, “go big or go home” doesn’t apply to rental cars here in Texas:


IMG_1008Our host provided us with Metromint! She has such good taste!

The next morning we assembled our bikes before heading out to ride on the velodrome.

IMG_1016Jen’s pretty helpless when her boyfriend Keith, or a master’s racer isn’t around…

10015300311-Myanmar-workerWhat Jen and I look life after wrenching on our bikes.

IMG_1028Checking out the Frisco Superdrome.

My dad always calls Velodromes, Thunderdromes so I think he’d be pretty to happy to hear there’s one called the Superdrome. I don’t know if he fully understands that I just race my bike and don’t go around jousting people on it.
IMG_1040I loved that we were immediately greeted by one of the officials polishing his gun at race day check-in… welcome to Texas!

Though we flew out to contest the endurance cup we figured we might as well take part in the match sprints on Friday. Our racing started with a flying 200 meter- not exactly an endurance riders strongest suit. Racers participate in a flying 200meter to get times, they then match up the times in order to seed the sprints. I placed 4th in the 200m and was able to win my first match. I lost my second match and went into the repechage round which selects positions 5th-8th. Another racer and I went toe to toe at the line that had to be decided by the finish line video. I came in second by less than a 1/10 of a second!

Match sprints: “It’s like water buffalo, as soon as one of them farts the rest of them go!”

970701_10152831108170427_1484505241_nWe helped keep the ‘summer camp’ tradition alive by painting our nails in between heats.

After having our fun pretending to be sprinters we got our bikes ready for the next morning’s Individual Pursuit, the first race part of the NTC. As I was switching out my handle bars I over tightened the headset and snapped it right off! I don’t even know how this is possible, I’m a cyclists- you know we don’t have upper bodies!

tx3Yes, that’s a saw and a hammer in the picture. Things got pretty desperate at 2 am.
Our amazing host family helping me try to fix my bike.

IMG_1090Around 2am we finally were able to wrap things up and go to bed,  but not before Jen yelled out from the other bed, “ Korina….we’re sprinters!” I think Missy and Dana might still have a thing or two to teach us 🙂


3k:  We went into the Individual Pursuit pretty blind- I’ve only ever done one IP and being on a different track I didn’t have a goal time or pace. My goal was to go into the IP steady and slowly pick up the pace throughout the laps. Jen and I both cheered and yelled out all of Michael and Beth’s go-to comments. “Breath, steady” and other encouragements throughout each others race. We placed 2nd and 3rd, loosing only to stud Catherine Moore who will be a force to be reckoned with Master’s Nats- don’t say I didn’t warn you. Texas is a lot hotter and more humid than what we are use to back at home so we made sure to stay hydrated. Thank you Fluid and Nuun for keeping us hydrated and going throughout the weekend!

IMG_1084Flying 250: I wish I started racing as a junior. Not to have all of that extra experience under my belt or anything, but because I love junior gearing and racing in a baby gear would have been my jam. So when I pretend to be a sprinter and put on the big girl gears, well, the planets simply aren’t aligned. Since track racers are sometimes super secretive about what gears they’re racing in I’m just going to say that I was basically in a 112. Give or take. Aka way too big of a gear to turn over in that short of time. I love how much there is to learn in track racing and how much you can learn from trial and error. I’ve had a lot of errors in the trip so it’s safe to say I’m learning a lot!

IMG_1055I have family who lives out in San Antonio and they were sweet enough to drive up and come watch me race. My aunt Lisa and cousin Jeslyn were such a blast and great distraction from the races. My aunt loved the aero helmets:

IMG_1097Thanks Limar for the helmet!

Our Hellyer Jakroo Skinsuits were a great talking piece. People would always come up and ask about our skinsuits, ask if it’s our local track, share stories about their Hellyer adventures or had heard about our Team Pursuit program!

IMG_1065Points:  I was tested for ADHD as a kid and learned that I have it. I’ve never taken any medication or anything but having ADHD as a bike racer means you get bored just sitting in a pack. I hate negative racing and will probably never be a ‘pure sprinter’ because I don’t think I’d ever want to conserve THAT MUCH energy. But I will say that the points race is my Ritalin, it’s my peace. I love that there’s always something going on, I love having to mark riders and keep track of who has how many points. I love that there are sprints every few laps and that the race just keeps getting harder and harder. I was off the front with another rider through the first sprint and I out sprinted her to pick up top points. We regrouped with the field shortly after and keeping the pace high shelled riders. As we entered our second sprint we ended up catching two riders who sat in-between the pull and the stayers so I had to drop down behind the rider in front of me to avoid crashing into the lapped riders. I still managed to take 3rd in the sprint. With a few laps to go I started thinking about how I wanted to final sprint to play out. I attacked with a few laps to go and was able to get a 1/2 lap on the field and take the sprint and the overall win!

IMG_1080Elimination: Jen took Larry Nolan’s advice to heart about getting to the front. You’ve never seen a cyclists get to the rail as fast. I had noticed that I had become a marked rider so to prove this I sat 7-8 bike lengths behind Jen at the start. Sure enough, everyone lined up behind me leaving that gap between the two of us. I stayed up front throughout the race and attacked at the final bell to take the win!

I was happy to have won two races in front of my family. I always think of those stupid bike racer memes when I talk to non cyclists friends and family so I’m happy that they have a better idea of what I do.


Scratch: Hot off her TT at the Amgen tour of California I knew Lauren Stephens would be the one to watch. The scratch race was 40 laps, which in my mind was a perfect opportunity to be aggressive and try to initiate moves. I kept attacking to initiate a break, Lauren followed and we were quickly riding away from the group. Jen bridged bringing two others with her, one immediately fell off pace. The four of us worked together to take a lap on the field. Lauren kept things active even after we re joined the group. The field was more worried about their omnium standings so didn’t seem to be concerned about Lauren riding away. Jen and I were marked on the other hand, every attack there was at least two riders quick to follow. We both kept being aggressive knowing that the length of the race would play to our strengths. Jen attacked and the sprinters just looked around like, “so which one if you is going to chase that because I’m not”. After a few laps with the field or ‘sprinters lounge’ I realized that unless I made a move those two were going to ride away to the finish line. I attacked and separated from the group with four laps to go. I caught Jen on the bell, Lauren having caught the field, therefore placing Lauren first, Jen second and myself third. This was the final event for the NTC so Jen and I were able to go 1-2 in the NTC endurance omnium with her leading just 1 point ahead of me. It’s going to be a good season of racing!

IMG_1020I’m not going to say that this is “Bike porn” because that’s a really creepy thought when you think about it. Honestly, who is pulling up pics of bikes when doing the “business” ?
But I think we can all admit that this is one good looking bike with some pretty sweet Fast Forward Wheels

500m: As if the Texas heat and humidity wasn’t enough they had wind! Worse than Davis wind! These were nasty 25+ mph gusts that make you wish you brought more than a disk. I had to start in the headwind section, as if a standing start isn’t hard enough but was able to get into my bars through the tailwind section, hooray for circles! I ended up placing 5th which solidified my Matrix track omnium standing in 2nd.

Overall I had a great experience and fun time racing. I learned not to stress over the variables you can’t control. Always bring spare parts, you just never know.Traveling can be more stressful than the racing itself. There’s always something you can improve on, and recovery is key.

Thanks to the Hellyer Velodrome Community for supporting us through this adventure and all of our amazing sponsors:

Jakroo          Fast Forward Wheels          Rocktape        Enduro Bearings     SportVelo Hughes Allmart  Insurance        Limar Helmets        Selle SMP Saddles      Betwixt Chamois Cream   Clif Bar           Clean Bottle        Rose Garden Health       Zealios Sun Barrier       Albabici 

Next up we’ll be heading to  Blaine, Minnesota for Nature Valley Fixed Gear Classic June 6th-8th!

45177_163570333801437_527402801_nThank you Betwixt and Zealios for providing me with the best chamois cream and sun barrier there is!

USA Cycling Track Camp 2013

1282 days until Rio but who’s counting? Every single girl here, that’s who. I was invited to USA Cycling’s Team Pursuit Camp. Hot off their Silver medal in the Team Pursuit, USA Cycling is starting their development of riders for the 2016 Olympics by hosting a ‘Talent Identification Camp’. This was step 1 of (insert endless number here).

The camp was 10 days in total, nine days on the track and one road ride to break things up half way through.

After seeing the invite list I decided I would spend the first half of day one at camp collecting autographs. Lauren Tamayo, Evelyn Stevens, Kristen McGrath, Carmen Small…oh my!

 “Practice in training the way you want to compete” -Ben Sharp


You may have heard the quote:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~ Aristotle

This quote can be the best or the worst news ever, knowing that excellence can be achieved but only though our consistent practice of it. The team pursuit is a truly tactical disciple. Like anything you can’t go out there on race day and expect anything other than what you’ve put into your training. Therefore we must practice excellence, or at least try to come close to it. (That is until you see our standing starts, they are nowhere near excellent).

A lot of our workouts consisted of group efforts, target paces, and goal lap splits. It’s about consistency, and dialing the fundamentals until they become second nature.

Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect (say that 10 times fast).

Sport Science

Cycling is a nerdy sport, let’s face it most endurance sports are.  I tried cheerleading in my youth: too much football,  not enough math.

Team Pursuit Equation                                                        Now we’re talking!
It really is pretty amazing delving into the science aspect of sports. Luckily we had Neal Henderson on deck to help us understand power meter files and data analysis of the team pursuit.

“Getting Comfortable with being uncomfortable”

This is something that Ben said to us on day one of camp. It truly summed up our experience at camp. It’s easy to focus on the aspects of cycling your good at, but it’s better to challenge yourself and focus on the things that you need improvement on.

Check out those wheels! Thanks Fast Forward for making the bikes look good!

“Do one thing that scares you daily”.

Go outside of your element, practice the things you hate, or your weaknesses. Do as Ben says, and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Ready. Pounce. Hug the barrel. Push Pull. Breathe.

Standing Starts:
What we think we look like:
Chris Hoy Standing StartWhat we really look like:falling_from_bike
Artistic Cycling

They say the average attention span lasts for 45 minutes. Luckily that applies to athletes and coaches. Our two hour meeting on power analysis and other sport science info soon transitioned into YouTube videos and google searches on ‘Artistic cycling’ (I’ll give you a minute to go Google it yourself).

Artistic cyclingIn unanimous decision our favorite was what we deemed the ‘two man titanic’.

Favorite Quotes from Camp:

1.) “ Winning is just so much better” -Evelyn Stevens after watching the Olympic Team Pursuit Round of Australia vs USA  (USA won in an amazing comeback)

2.) “It never gets easier, you just get faster” – Greg Lemond

3.) “The (individual) pursuit is really something where you have to figure out yourself how you’re going to ride it. Everyone rides it differently because it sucks so much and it’s so hard. It’s sort of like stabbing yourself in the legs and you have to figure out what the best way to stab yourself is. People can’t tell you how to do that because it’s stabbing yourself and it sucks. You know, it’s painful — you’re stabbing yourself in the legs.” – Taylor Phinney

Some of my favorite moments from Camp:

1.) Watching Evelyn Stevens slay herself in the ‘Hunger Games Championship’ aka Australian Pursuit. Lauren Tamayo went on to win and is the current ‘Hunger Games Champion’ congratulate her the next time you see her.

1.b.) During the race the girls who didn’t make the finals placed bets on their favorite riders. Ally Stacher, sweet as can be, makes one mean bookie.

2.) Spending 10 days doing nothing but playing bikes- seriously this is the dream!

3.) Watching Beth Newell crack what she thought was a hard boiled egg all over Amanda’s window, only to find out she was wrong.

4.) Shelby and Jen aka the Apron Crew. These two are hilarious and can teach you a thing or two about the track.
603329_4198861620415_1868622359_n5.) Viggo and Josh- the sweet, funny, helpful duo of team mechanic and soigneur. These two helped us all out so much and have some pretty good stories about the cycling world.

6.) Getting to share the experience with my H.W.T.P.P teammates aka Quads and Dots

7.) Getting to meet the amazing women who make up the pro peloton. At a time when cycling seems to be at it’s worst and the perception of professionals make the sport seem questionable it’s great to meet so many grounded, and hard working individuals.These women aren’t into bike racing for the money, and they don’t seek to win at all costs. Nothing’s better than finding out your bike heroes are just as inspiring off the bike as they are on.

553122_585336821482218_1507147893_nThank you to the Hellyer program, Fluid, Nuun,  and Fast Forward wheels for all your support!