It was hot, humid and rainy on July 5, but Chicago's Liam Donoghue still set the 10 mile record at the Ed Rudolph Velodrome, completing 42.1 laps in 19:07 minutes during 90 degree heat.
“It’s rare that you end a race and think to yourself ‘that was the hardest race I’ve ever done,'" said Donoghue, 28, a Glen Ellyn native, now living in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. “That was certainly the hardest track race I’ve ever done.”
It turns out the uncomfortable weather actually helped Donoghue and his xXx Racing teamates outperform bikers from across the Midwest. Heat provides better racing conditions.
"The actual air density is lower because it’s so hot," Donoghue said. "When the track itself is also hot, it reduces the friction on the tires.”
The previous Ed Rudolph record was set two years ago by John Tomlinson in 20:05. Since the July 5 race, Donoghue could only find one national record better than his, done more than 10 years ago by a racer in Pennsylvania about 20 seconds faster.
According to Paul Soderblom, spokesman for the Northbrook Cycling Committee which organized races at the velodrome, Donoghue is as likable as he is fast.
“He’s such a quiet, unassuming guy. There’s no ego involved in it," Soderblom said. "He just goes out there and rides really hard."
Donoghue attributes part of his success that night to teammate Dave Moyer, who set a fast pace early in the race and rode behind Donoghue, shouting words of encouragement as the race wrapped up.
There was a point in the race when Donoghue had lapped every other rider and had all but won, but kept pushing himself in hopes of breaking the record. Moyer rode behind Donoghue, yelling at the leader to go even faster.
Donoghue has two other records at the velodrome, a four kilometer individual pursuit and a 4K team race, both from 2011. He owns six bikes and races on five of them, but set all three records on a Felt TK2 he bought in 2009.
Competitive cycling rules demand riders use fixed-gear track bikes with no brakes. In effect, there's no coasting during a race. Donoghue was pedaling the entire time.
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