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Four National Titles for USABA Track Tandem Teams

Posted December 14, 2015  Cycling

Six USABA tandem teams met in Colorado Springs to compete for national titles this weekend at the 2015 U.S. Paracycling Track National Championships. The event was held at the U.S. Olympic Velodrome, which was recently covered with a seasonal dome to support year-round training – and just in time for the snow that fell Saturday afternoon.

All of the stokers competing in this year’s national championships got their start in cycling by participating in a USABA Cycling Development Camp with the most recent stoker attending a camp in September, just 3 months before Nationals, at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.


As the only women’s tandem competing at this year’s Track Nationals, Shawn Cheshire(Camillus, N.Y.) and her pilot, Mackenzie Woodring (Lowell, Mich.), used the event as an opportunity to practice together and focus on times. Living in different parts of the country, the two must coordinate schedules to train together.

Identified as emerging talent in 2012, Cheshire has been training in both track and road cycling, though she prefers track. “I love track,” said Cheshire. “I like riding as hard as we can for a few minutes, rather than figuring out how much energy to exert at the different points of a 45-minute race on the road.”

The remaining five tandems competed in the men’s division this weekend. Though many are familiar names, you may be surprised to read the name Tanner Gers (Phoenix, Ariz.).  A former track & field athlete, Gers won GOLD in the long jump at the 2011 Parapan American Games and competed in the London 2012 Paralympic Games. He is currently transitioning into cycling after participating in a USABA Cycling Development Camp in September.

Gers is riding with pilot David Swanson (Tucson, Ariz.), who previously piloted USABA cyclist Clark Rachfal (Annapolis, Md.). This event was the first opportunity for both Gers and Swanson, and Rachfal and his new pilot, Liam Donoghue (Boulder, Colo.) to compete as tandems. After a serious crash in July, where Rachfal broke his shoulder, Rachfal and Donoghue were healthy again and ready to ride for a national title.

Defending national champions in the kilo, Kevin Meyers (Greenfield, Wis.) and his pilot, Bob Springer (Sturtevant, Wis.), were focused on the pursuit. Meyers and Springer came into Nationals having trained for the 4km pursuit in hopes of excelling in both events.

“Pursuit was going to be a challenge, because we’re better at the kilo,” said Meyers. “But for nationals, we did most of our training for the 4k pursuit.”

Meyers and Springer would be competing with a tandem of veterans,  Ray Middleton (Erie, Colo.) and his pilot, William “Tony” Byatt (Cedar Crest, N.M.),  who, collectively, have over 60 years of riding experience, and Chester Triplett (Mooresville, N.C)  and his pilot Reuben Howden (Huntersville, N.C.) who are able to train together on a weekly basis in North Carolina.


Cheshire and Woodring finished the 3km pursuit National Champions with a time of 3:53.909.

In the Men’s bronze medal pursuit final, Meyers pushed passed Gers on lap 10 to earn his place on the medal stand.

“We didn’t want to go too hard in the beginning but hard enough to get a good start and just build on it,” said Meyers. “All the sudden, someone on the sideline says ‘kilo’. They were trying to kilo us in 4 laps! So, as soon as we heard that, we took off and caught them on the tenth lap. That made the whole weekend totally awesome. I’d never had a race like that before.”

In the gold medal pursuit final, riding against Triplett, Rachfal earned GOLD with a speed of 51.057kmh. This was Rachfal’s first competition with Donoghue as pilot.

“Being our first day of racing together and second race of the day, we planned to do the first half of the race under control and then try to speed up from there,” said Rachfal. “In the [final], instead of going out and then speeding up in the second half, we basically just flat-lined the entire thing. So even though the speed stays the same, it becomes harder and harder to maintain.”

Cheshire and Woodring secured a second national title in the kilo, finishing 1:14.069.

Defending National Champions, Meyers and Springer crossed the finish line at 1:10.474 but were out-raced this year by Triplett and new comer, Gers. Gers and Swanson raced a solid 3 seconds faster than Triplett and Howden who won silver.  It came down to technique for Gers and Swanson.

“Technique won us the race,” said Swanson. “The first 50 meters are critical and we were able to ride the first 50 meters with near perfect technique. Yesterday, we were focused on speed and our technique wavered some. Today, we took the turns more smoothly.”

Final Results
Women BVI 3km Pursuit
GOLD – Shawn Cheshire / Pilot Mackenzie Woodring
Men BVI 4km Pursuit
GOLD – Clark Rachfal / Pilot Liam Donoghue
SILVER – Chester Triplett / Pilot Reuben Howden
BRONZE – Kevin Meyers / Pilot Bob Springer
4th – Tanner Gers / Pilot David Swanson
5th – Ray Middleton / Pilot William “Tony” Byatt
Women BVI 100m Time Trial
GOLD – Shawn Cheshire / Pilot Mackenzie Woodring
Men BV 1000m Time Trial
GOLD – Tanner Gers / Pilot David Swanson
SILVER – Chester Triplett / Pilot Reuben Howden
BRONZE – Kevin Meyers / Pilot Bob Springer
4th – Clark Rachfal / Pilot Liam Donoghue
5th – Ray Middleton / Pilot William “Tony” Byatt