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Portland track racer making headlines in Berlin

Posted by on January 29th, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Kovalcik in Berlin (he’s behind the middle guy in white).
(Photo: Facebook)

Portland resident Zak Kovalcik is raising a lot of eyebrows in the track racing world. The Sizzle Pie Cycling p/b Veloforma team rider is currently in Germany competing in the 102nd annual Berlin Six Day. The event features a form of track racing known as steher, where riders roll behind specially modified motorcycles. The discipline isn’t well known in the states and it’s rare for an American to take part:

Here’s more from

“The all-but-forgotten art of steher racing will have a little yankee flavor added this week when reining US omnium champion Zak Kovalcik competes in the high-speed niche event during the 102nd Berlin Six Day January 24-29.

The mass start motor-paced track race puts each cyclist behind a full-sized motorcycle that has been modified with handlebars that sweep back toward the driver, affording the operator a standing position that creates the largest possible draft for the cyclist behind. The back side of the motorcycle also features a roller bar that the rider can bump his front wheel against without going down.

Steher bikes are equally specialized: A 24-inch front wheel on a reversed-rake fork moves the rider toward the front of the sturdy steel frame and closer to the moto’s draft. A reinforced stem allows the rider to sit in a more upright position for better vision as he’s being paced around the track at speeds from 65-100 km/h.”

Zak, whom we wrote about back in 2008 following a serious injury, has been posting updates about his experiences on his Facebook page. He seems to be learning the ins and outs of the racing format, while gaining experience from the other riders. “Things are coming together,” he wrote a few days ago, “but the other riders are showing there experience… Still much to learn but I am having so much fun!”

Keep up with Zak on his blog.

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  • 9watts January 29, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    I look forward to the day when cars draft behind bikes.

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  • Brad Ross January 30, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Zak is a former Team Beer teammate. BEER!

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  • Justin G January 31, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    High-five, Zak!

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