By Michael Golembesky
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The weather and track conditions were perfect early July 13 at the Colorado Springs Velodrome as cyclist, Lt. Col. James Lawrence, a pilot with the 200th Airlift Squadron Colorado Air National Guard, started his initial laps to bring his bike up to speed before making a world record attempt.
After more than a year of training and preparation, Lawrence’s front tire rolled over the sensing strip that triggered the electronic clock to start. Pedaling furiously, his attempt was over in mere seconds. Wearing an aerodynamic helmet and traveling more than 40 mph, he was unsure if he had broken the record or just barely missed it.
Lawrence had unknowingly broken two records in the Flying 200 Meter Time Trial in the 45-49 age group. The current U.S. record time was 10.959 seconds while the world record was 10.927. Lawrence had stopped the clock at 10.713.
“I didn’t know my time for a while; I couldn’t see or hear anything. I knew I had gone fast, it felt really fast, but I had no idea,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence knew he had broken the record when he saw his oldest daughter Victoria, who was volunteering at the event, jumping up and down giving her dad a thumbs up.
Lawrence never intended on becoming a competitive cyclist, let alone a world record holder. Riding bikes was a family affair with him and his family spending hours practicing at the velodrome to prepare for youth race competitions.
“I went to Masters Nationals, and figured I would go out there and get crushed but I wound up taking fifth,” he said when talking about his first cycling competition.
Lawrence’s official time was more than two-tenths of a second faster than the current world record set by an Australian cyclist two years ago. The two-tenths difference is a large margin in such a short race.
“If I had been able to beat it by 17 one-hundredths of a second, that would have been a pretty good thumping. But to beat it by two-tenths is unheard of, it’s ridiculous,” he said.
“The guys at the track are like, ‘dude, that is going to stand forever,’” Lawrence said when recalling reactions from fellow cyclists at the event.
As a C-21A Learjet pilot and assistant director of operations for the 200th AS, Lawrence had a full schedule to balance when making time to train and prepare for his world record attempt.
“It’s tough, especially with the kids and all of us racing and training. It’s difficult but basically every minute that I am not here (at Peterson) we are doing something cycling related,” said Lawrence.
“Altitude is absolutely a key factor in our track being fast because the air is thinner, there is less resistance so you go faster,” he said when asked if altitude played a factor in the large margin of his time.
The official paperwork and results have been submitted to the Internal Cyclist Union office in Switzerland, the governing authority that verifies and maintains all world records associated with cycling.
To learn more about the Colorado Springs Velodrome, go to http://www.csvelodrome.org/CSVA/Welcome.html.