23 June 2013
Over the past couple seasons, Korina Huizar (Metromint Cycling) has found her forte in track-cycling. As part of the Hellyer Women’s Team Pursuit Programme, Huizar raced to a team pursuit silver medal at the 2012 USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships. Her team mates then were Beth Newell and Amanda Seigle.
This year, Huizar and track-pal Jennifer Zierke are racing riot on the National Track Calendar. The pair sit atop the Women’s Endurance Standings as they follow the track calendar across the nation.
Demystify the Sport
Starting in category 4 in 2011, Huizar had very respectable top-ten finishes on the road. Now a top-category racer, she spends much her time racing at the track.
“It’s split between road and track but I definitely have more of a track focus,” remarked Huizar. “I definitely love track racing. It’s so exciting, so fun, so dynamic. It is more my passion.
“I used to be a runner but an injury drew me onto the bike. Last year, the Hellyer programme put together a Women’s Series. Three weekends in a row sponsored by the San Jose club; Beth Hernandez-Jones and Annabell Holland did an outstanding job of breaking down getting into track racing and to demystify the sport.
“As an outsider it can seem intimidating, especially with so many racers. They did a great job introducing everybody to track racing. They taught us everything from how to change your gears to tactically race a keirin.
“Right after I had finished the women’s beginner sessions they gave us a flyer for the Women’s Team Pursuit Programme. I thought it would be fun, great to learn but I never thought I’d be a part of the National’s team.
“My favourite race is the points race and best achievements are second in the team pursuit and sixth in the points race at Nationals [last year]. This year I was the first long team member for the Pan American Games. That was incredibly exciting to almost go.”
Huizar says absolutely it his her goal to compete at the Pan Am Games and the 2016 Olympics. “I was invited to be part of a USA Cycling talent ID camp in January. Their focus is finding riders for the 2016 Olympics. So I am going to do everything I can to stay a part of that.”
Just as Hooked
Unfortunately there is only a small number of women’s track-cyclists in Northern California and this forces Huizar to often race against the men…and she does take results against them. Huizar doesn’t find this a hindrance but a fact of the matter. “Tough competition is just that whether it’s a guy or a girl. The men are a great challenge and just as aggressive as who you race against at Nationals. It definitely makes me a stronger rider.
“I don’t get the opportunity to race against [many other women]. There’s only one Beth Newell in our area. It’s too bad because it’s such a great sport. There are a lot of women who came out just not all at the same time. The categories span from one to four so it’s hard to have them race altogether.
“I think it is intimidating as an outsider so I would say come try [track racing]. I remember the first time I went out to the track I was terrified of the concept of not having brakes. For the most part, there are hardly ever any crashes, it’s really safe, and, more than anything, it’s a lot of fun.
“I would encourage more people to come out and try it. Once you’ve done a few track races you’d be just as hooked as I am. The support behind women’s racing, especially at Hellyer, is definitely there.”
Huizar’s goal for the year is to do well at Track Nationals. At one point she had in mind to race well in the National Track Calendar but a crash at the Midwest Challenge in Indianapolis has dented that effort.
Suffering symptoms from a concussion, Huizar’s entry at the upcoming HVC is in jeopardy. This could leave a door open for fellow NorCal track cyclist and friend Jennifer Zierke.
“I don’t know that I’ll be able to race HVC next weekend. Which is unfortunate because I love that race. It’s such a great weekend of racing.
“If I don’t race, that may leave me with a huge point deficit. I don’t think I’ll be able to come back because there are only three destinations left on the calendar, including HVC, and there are technically four races at HVC alone. If Jen [Zierke] were to race them that is a lot of points.”
“You only get better by having good competition and we definitely bring that out in each other. We’re competitors when we’re racing but we’re great friends on the infield.”
Zierke and Huizar travel together and race each other at the NTC destinations. “It’s been amazing. I couldn’t imagine having a better person to do the NTC with. We’re having a lot of fun together.
“Going to all these velodromes and meeting so many amazing people has been the coolest experience I can imagine. We’ve had great host families and everyone at the velodromes has been so generous and nice.
“Even if I come back but unable to win the series, I’ll definitely continue to race. It has been a great learning experience.
“This season there has been a lot of highs and lows. It is a matter of keeping perspective and knowing why you’re coming back to it. I’ve had this injury and pneumonia earlier this year. Those can make people re-evaluate the sport but I love it so much and counting down the days until I get back on the bike. I’ll have to re-tweet my schedule to regain my fitness but it’s what I love to do.”
An all too common theme in women’s bicycle racing, Huizar must support herself and balance track-racing with a career.
“With traveling it is a hard balance. Coming home and having to work. The week’s we travel Jen and I work Monday through Wednesday, take the red eye, get there Thursday, sometimes race the same day, and then do it all over again. We’re not getting much recovery but it’s the only way we can keep doing it all.
“We’ve learned to have fun with it. The red eyes are getting easier. We just adapt and it’s a routine now.”
Huizar does receive support from Hellyer making the NTC possible for herself as well as Zierke. This is in the form of financial help and equipment including borrowed bikes and arranging host housing. Sponsorship also comes from FastForward Wheels, Fluid Sports Nutrition, and Jakroo.
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