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Local cyclists shine at track nationals

Felix Burke helps win team sprint bronze

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Felix Burke admitted he and his Team Squamish teammates decided to enter the Canadian Junior and U17 Track Cycling Championships essentially on a lark.

Burke and teammates Luke Di Marzo, Rhys Verner, and fellow Whistlerite Mahon Lamont are all primarily mountain bikers, but with the nationals taking place in nearby Burnaby, they figured they'd take to the track to build up their racing skills for next year, and to have some fun.

In just his third time ever riding a track, Burke, along with Di Marzo and Verner, ended up with a bronze in the team sprint. The full team also rode to a fourth-place finish in team pursuit.

"We're all mountain bikers and we rarely go to the track," Burke said. "We found out track nationals were going to be so close to where we live, so we just decided it would be a fun trip to go.

"We showed up there completely out of our league, so it was pretty funny, but we were still able to get good results."

Burke explained at a base level, there are some transferable skills from mountain biking to track cycling.

"We're still turning pedals, so all the strength that we get is from the hours that we spend training for mountain biking," he said. "We've all got the fitness to perform on the track because we spend so much time training."

Aside from the basic elements of the two sports, there isn't much similarity between them, Burke said.

"The tactics were lacking a little bit because we don't spend any time on track bikes, which are completely different from mountain bikes," he explained. "It took some getting used to, but what we were good at, we were able to transfer onto the track and then we were able to make it happen for one event."

As a team, Burke felt the group actually had more trouble getting the right flow in the team sprint, which has all three riders pedalling one after another for the first lap with one competitor for each team dropping out after each lap until only one remains for each team.

"When we were practicing that, we had trouble getting into the slip stream (decreased air resistance) of the person in front of you, because we hadn't spent much time practicing," he said. "But in that final round, we were able to slide right into that slip stream and start riding as hard as we could right away."

Burke said he's not planning to keep on pursuing track competitions in a serious way, though he is open to trying other types of events.

"Track cycling takes infrastructure, and it's kind of hard to get to the velodrome," he said. "I'm planning on leaning a little bit more toward the road, and the skills you get on the track transfer to the road."

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