Donoghue establishes his third record at Northbrook velodrome
7/12/12 Northbrook Liam Donoghue makes adjustments to his bike at the Velodrome. Donoghue recently set the 10-mile track record at the velodrome. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 20, 2012 10:48AM
NORTHBROOK — On a sweltering night in July, Liam Donoghue sensed the pace near the midpoint of the Ed Rudolph Velodrome’s 10-mile race slowing and he promptly darted to the front of the field.
Donoghue knew, given the conditions, that picking up speed might force several riders to fall out of the pack, but he also expected to have drafting help until the race’s final moments.
But after Donoghue made his attack, no one was able to keep up. The 28-year-old pulled away from the field and was all by himself when he finished the 10-mile race in 19:07, obliteraterating the previous track record by 58 seconds.
In the process, Donoghue’s performance left the Northbrook cycling community abuzz and he staked his claim as the Ed Rudolph Velodrome’s top cyclist.
“He broke (the record) in a really interesting way in that the other riders couldn’t even keep up,” said John Vittallo, who has been involved in the Northbrook Cycling Committee since 2000. “Usually there’s a pack of riders where they’re using the one guy in the front and drafting. Because of the extreme heat, it caused the race to take a non-traditional shape where you have people all over the track. Meanwhile, Liam was completely unaffected.”
In breaking the preexisting 10-mile record, Donoghue laid claim or shared three of the Ed Rudolph Velodrome’s six track records. He has set all of his records within the last two years.
Three of the primary reasons Donoghue has become a dominant rider at the Ed Rudolph Velodrome — his speed, endurance and the ability to push himself in adverse conditions — allowed the Chicago resident to reap the benefits of July 5’s extreme heat.
“One of the main things you’re trying to overcome, as a racer, is air resistance,” said Donoghue, sounding like a meterologist. “Even though our bodies are (hurting) when we ride as hard as we ride in 100-degree, super-humid heat, it actually has a little bit of a benefit because the air density is going to be less.
“With the track being hot, the friction is going to be less, so there’s going to be less resistance. All of that plays a part when you’re doing something that lasts 19 or 20 minutes. If it was a little colder, a little windy, maybe we would have done the same effort and it would have taken 19 minutes, 50 seconds. You never know. We kind of lucked out.”
At this point in the cycling season, Donoghue is building toward USAC Elite Track Nationals, which take place in Los Angeles at the end of September. Donoghue will compete in a number of races — both road and track races — leading up to nationals, where he finished 11th in each of his three individual events last year and helped his Team Pursuit squad finish fourth overall.
In Northbrook, the biggest race remaining for Donoghue and the track’s other regulars this season is the Roger DeLanghe Trophy Race on Aug. 9. Donoghue, the favorite after experiencing so much success over the last two years, has clearly shown other riders how important it is to stay with him, especially in the extreme heat.
“He’s so dangerous because you can’t let him get away,” Vittallo said. “If he does, he’s just going to go and you’ll never be able to catch him. You constantly have to be watching him at every second because if he gets a little jump or a little gap where you can’t draft, you’ll never be able to catch him because you can’t go as fast.”