Matt Baranoski started his spring semester at Penn State Lehigh Valley, and then took off for Scotland two weeks later.
Baranoski, the Pennridge High School graduate and budding Olympic track cycling hopeful for 2016, took two weeks off from school early in the semester to further his Olympic aspirations.
A sophomore electrical engineering major and member of the cycling team at Penn State, Baranoski went to Scotland to compete in a United Kingdom race series as a warm-up to the 2013 Pan American Championships in Mexico City that took place last week.
The strategy worked out perfectly for Baranoski. During the Revolution in Glasgow, he won the sprint, the keirin and joined the winning team sprint team.
At the Pan-Ams, he helped set an unofficial U.S. record in the team sprint by five-thousandths of a second in the morning qualifying round. The U.S. team finished with a bronze medal.
Baranoski said the U.S. record is pending because there is a policy to drug test an event only once a day, and in the case of the team sprint, it came after the medals round in the evening, not in the morning round. So the national record is still in question because in order to be an official record, there has to be drug testing. Whether or not the evening drug testing counts is still being determined.
Baranoski also placed fifth in the keirin and sixth in the sprint in his first major international competition as an elite rider.
"It was a very different experience," Baranoski said of the Pan Am Games. "It was definitely a good learning experience because I had never done an elite international competition like that before. I had done junior worlds; it was similar, but the caliber of riders was much higher."
The Pan Ams are considered the hemisphere championships. Teams come from Canada, the U.S., Central and South America as well as the regional island nations.
The national record was a bit of a surprise, according to Baranoski. The track in Mexico City had no board showing the posted times for each team, so it took about 20 minutes before the U.S. squad found out its time.
"It was a little colder at night, so no one broke any records," Baranoski said of his ride with teammates Nathan Koch and Kevin Mansker, both from California.
Baranoski and several other cyclists were brought into the Revolution — a race series of endurance events sprinkled with some sprint events for added interest — as set-up riders, expected to lose to the hometown Scottish riders. That didn't work out so well for the Scots, however.
"We left Scotland and landed in the U.S. just long enough to watch the Super Bowl before leaving for Mexico," Baranoski said.
While in Scotland, while other cyclists were goofing around and watching television, Baranoski was busy working on a circuitry design project.
"It's going to take me a couple of weeks to catch up on school and life," he said. "Then it's time to re-focus on cycling and get it going for this coming season. We qualified for worlds in the team sprint, but the national team isn't going to send us. Hopefully I'll be able to do some races to ride World Cups in the fall and winter next year. It's a tough balance with school and cycling, but it is so worth it. This week hasn't been fun going back to class and all, but it's definitely worth it."
Barto native Lauren Tamayo, a Central Catholic graduate who won a silver medal in the women's team pursuit at the 2012 Olympics, placed fourth in the event at the Pan-Ams with teammates Elizabeth Newell and Ruth Winder. Tamayo, who now lives in Asheville, N.C., also placed seventh in the points race and 14th in the scratch race.
Bicycle Racing League registrations on tap: The 2013 Spring Red Robin® Marty Nothstein Bicycle Racing League at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center will begin accepting registrations on Sunday, Feb. 24.
Bicycle Racing League, or BRL as it is called, is an introductory step into the world of track cycling for boys and girls ages 9-16. No experience is necessary, and USA Cycling-licensed riders must enter the "open" category.
BRL begins practice sessions on April 8 and competitions run through June 28. All equipment, including bikes and helmets, can be borrowed for the sessions free of charge.
To register, go online to http://www.thevelodrome.com. Registration closes 1 p.m. Friday, April 5.
Spring VeloFest is set: Get ready for spring cycling deals at the 2013 Spring VeloFest, which is set for May 4. Vendors have until April 28 to register with the Valley Preferred Cycling Center (email firstname.lastname@example.org). Prices for vendors vary based on location and whether you're a private seller or a commercial seller.
The Spring VeloFest offers cycling gear and apparel from complete new and used bikes to tools and components. It's a great place to get deals on needed items or just get excited about your cycling endeavors whether you're a racer, fitness enthusiast or recreational rider.
St. Luke's 5K and half marathon: If you're interested in running either the St. Luke's 5K or half marathon on Sunday, April 28, you're not running out of time so much as spots left in both races.
Less than 100 spots are still open for the half marathon, and about 150 openings remain for the 5K. The races, organized by the Lehigh Valley Road Runners, are expected to raise approximately $30,000 for youth running in the Lehigh Valley, including the free kids run on Saturday, April 27. Last year's kids run featured 1,500 participants ages 3-14.
To register for the remaining spots in the races, go online to http://stlukeshalfmarathon.com .
Limited spots remain for Emmaus 4-miler: Less than 50 spots are left for the Emmaus 4-Miler that will be run 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 14. The popular race features commemorative coffee mugs for age-group winners, a fantastic post-race food spread, and — a rarity among most races — locker room and shower facilities at Emmaus High School.
To register, go online to http://www.raceit.com/Register/?event=17053 .
LVHN Marathon for Via: Registration is open for the 2013 Lehigh Valley Marathon for Via, which also features a half marathon, marathon relay, 5K, walk and kids race. Race weekend is Sept. 7-8.