The exhilaration of the G-force pushing your head down as you accelerate through the banked curve of a velodrome just doesn't get old for Stan Terusaki, who recently competed and won a gold medal at the USA Cycling Masters National Championships in Redmond, Washington.
"Racing on a track is a really different sensation. It's exhilarating and fun; like a roller coaster," said Terusaki, who won in the Scratch Race event. "You ride super fast. Afterward, a road race feels like slow motion."
It may feel that way to Terusaki, but that's not what his road race competitors or Cycletron teammates would say. While racing on a track has become a thrilling sidelight since 2008, it is road racing where Terusaki has made his mark locally.
A few days prior to his track victory, Terusaki won the Livermore Red Kite Criterium in the Masters Men 55+ category, confirming him as the Northern California Nevada Cycling Association Omnium Series champion for this year. The series consists of 14 races run between February and August. He finds track competition to be a nice complement to road racing. "Racing track improves your reaction time," Terusaki said. "You have to be able to react quickly because everything happens so fast."
There are, of course, important differences. Track bikes have a fixed gear and no brakes. Many different events are run on the velodrome including pursuit races with two riders, sprints and scratch races in which riders cover a set number of laps.
Terusaki plays down his racing success, preferring to emphasize the camaraderie and "energy of the peloton" that make the noontime rides so rewarding. He credits his fellow Cycletrons with making him the strong competitive rider he has become. "We have so many strong riders," he says, noting that his success is constantly tested. "The guys I ride with like to hammer me. They make me suffer. But the truth is that I kind of enjoy it."
Living in a place such as Livermore, where cyclists can train year around, makes for strong competition, according to Terusaki. "Local competition is at such a high level that if you're good in California, you're good nationally. The road racing around here is probably the best in the country."
That was certainly one of the things that attracted him to Livermore 22 years ago. "I love the work-life philosophy," said Terusaki, who works in LLNL's ES&H Environmental Function group.
He is the third Cycletron to win a national championship. The others were Bob Thoe, Sandia employee John Larson and collegiate national track champion Jason Sears.
But a 30-year racing career is not without its bumps, bruises and broken bones. Terusaki has broken 17-18 bones in his life, most them bicycling. Intimately familiar with the hazards inherent in riding at a high level, he said "the Cycletrons stress the importance of riding safely. We have a strong safety record."
Next up for Terusaki will be the Oct. 5 Save Mt. Diablo Challenge, a particularly grueling grind up to the 3,864-foot summit. He is competing at the urging of his daughter, Beryl Anderson, who works for the Save Mt. Diablo conservation and land preservation effort. His personal record for the climb is a very respectable 49 minutes. "This race is about being able to suffer for 50 minutes," he said. "The climb is a complete effort. You're on your own and suffering like a dog."
But, he adds with a smile, "I'm looking forward to it."
Terusaki said he used to think that age 55 was old. But, he's not even thinking about slowing down or retiring from competition. He points out that he's on the advantageous side of the 55-59 age category in which he competes.
"As long as there are guys older than me competing," he said, "I'll keep racing."