Thursday, February 12, 2009

Marty Nothstein

I read this Cycling News interview with Marty Nothstein, and found it pretty interesting. If you watch track sprint races from the 1990s, Marty Nothstein is the enormous dude in the front at the finish line. He's got a couple palmares, including being the National sprint champ from '96 to '01; here he is dominating the 1996 Olympic trials at the Trexlertown Velodrome (the 5 parts of that video are pretty enjoyable).

I like that interview with Nothstein because it spins into some geekery, and that's satisfying to me. It's fun to learn that Marty was sprinting on a 50x14 gear - a huge gear for track racing, but incidentally, a fairly small gear for road sprintig where riders will be pounding a 53x13, 12, and maybe even 11 (but if roadies think that a 50x14 is a small gear, try starting your sprint in that gear, from a standing start!). He also shares his preferred crank length with us - 167.5mm for sprint events.

I also like that we get a perfect glimpse into the significant ego of the sprinter:

CN: Six hundred meters out, Marty Nothstein, or Lance Armstrong?
MN: In a sprint?
CN: Yeah.
MN: After how long?
CN: A Classic.
MN: He's done.
CN: Six hundred meters out, Marty Nothstein or Mario Cipollini?
MN: Cipo's done. No problem.

Something in me doubts that a beefcake like Marty, a pure sprinter, would even be with Lance Armstrong or Cipolllini with 600 meters left in a Classic. But there's Marty, pretty confident in his ability to destroy everybody else. The sprint is certainly a discipline that just attracts or perhaps manufactures big egos - I wonder to what extent that's due to the fact that, unlike many other cycling events, sprints are very individual events. The match sprint is (usually) a one-on-one event. There is a lot of room for tactical manipulation of the race but there is very little room for nonpersonal variables to sneak in and effect the outcome of the race - whereas, in road cycling, so many racers need to be humbled by their vulnerability to the elements, the terrain, a staple in the road, or a team that's just too damn strong. To win a road race, the stars have to be alligned, the cards shuffled, the tires intact, and maybe you've got to be the strongest rider on the road.

In a track sprint, you've only got to be the strongest rider on the banking. So I can see where the ego comes in to play. Oh, right, and there's this:

MN: I need to win.
CN: Why?
MN: I just plain out like it! There's nothing better.

Need more be said?

Rumor on the street is that he'll be around to teach some higher-level training sessions at the Kissena Velodrome this season. I'll have to check that out.

Closing the post with a fun fact: the GT that Marty is mounting here was actually made by Trimble Cycles, developed and built by the uncle of a teammate of mine. Other Trimble designs were incorporated into Kestrel bicycles, but my favorite Trimble design due to its sheer outlandishness is the "sailbike," an aero tt/tri bike from the 80s. Crazy!


  1. Marty Nothstein was named in the recent USADA case as having helped O'bee get HGH and EPO. There are rumors of him failing a drug test in the 90s as well, which was said to be covered up by EDS/UsaCycling

  2. You know, I was physically stronger than Marty - in terms of moving metal in the gym- when we did that interview, and I was clean. I doubt he was 'on' anything. The guy's work ethic and his focus really were World Class. -MK

  3. Steve Johnson of USA Cycling knows exactly what is going on. Tom Weisel's little puppet. Most world and Olympic medals were dirty through the 90's to 2000 (Marty Nothstein's gold) and these guys know it

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