The PA Lightning & The World Cycling League
Marty Nothstein is warming up young charges Friday afternoon in the Red Robin Marty Nothstein Bicycle Racing League. His riders, the future, count laps. “Come on guys,” one encourages the others. “Watch! Passing team,” chirps another. Safety first.
Nothstein, an Olympic and world gold medalist, is now the executive director of the Valley Preferred Cycling Center; and he, his son Tyler and others are part of what might be the key to the future of competitive track cycling. They are bringing the World Cycling League (WCL), essentially the NFL of track cycling – where the bikes lack brakes, a freewheel and have one gear – to the Lehigh Valley.
The World Cycling League features head-to-head track cycling competition on indoor velodromes as a highly entertaining, competitive sport. TeamTrak, WCL’s unique format, features co-ed teams of top track racers, an easy to follow scoring system, innovative technology and home teams to cheer for. A WCL team is made up of 7 riders: 4 men and 3 women. There are 3 endurance riders, and 1 sprinter for men, and 2 endurance riders and 1 sprinter for women. David Chauner, an original velodrome pioneer, is the league founder; his son is a member of our local team.
The Pennsylvania Lightening is one of six WCL teams in the nation and includes Tyler Nothstein, Michael Chauner, Kwesi Brown, Anita Yvonne Stenberg, Stephen Hall, Colleen Gulick and Charline Joiner and Manager Gil Hatton, a legendry local cycling competitor and coach. The team uses the Valley Preferred Cycling Center as its summertime base.
Although the WCL doesn’t debut a full season until January 2017, WCL was launched in March at the VELO Sports Center in Carson, Calif. where six franchise teams competed in three sessions spread across two days, each containing 12 high-speed events ranging from two to 40 laps.
Before the largest and most vocal crowd of the two-day world premiere, Kwesi Brown pedaled to four victories and paced the Pennsylvania Lightning to victory in the historic debut.
Before the largest and most vocal crowd of the two-day world premiere, Kwesi Brown pedaled to four victories and paced the Pennsylvania Lightning to victory in the historic debut. He won two races in the afternoon and two in the concluding session. His Lightning teammates Charline Joiner and Anita Yvonne Stenberg controlled the women’s enduro races, and the Lightning tallied 17 points, two more than the Mexico Heat. The Lightning also won the opening session and finished second in the second session.
You can catch the action now through August as the PA Lightening, and others from WCL teams, will compete, exhibit or market the new league at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center.
“It’s what the sport can use right now,” Marty Nothstein says. “Track cycling, globally, is popular, maybe at an all-time high, and it’s strong here in T-Town, but across the U.S., it’s not. Dave’s model is a good product and can go anywhere.”
“It only makes sense,” Marty says. “We have a knowledgeable fan base. We bring in 2,000 fans every Friday night for 13 consecutive weeks (June 3 to the last Friday in August). We get a crowd in T-Town, so we can get behind this and help the league take the next step. There are a lot of eyeballs on this, and eyeballs have always been (on track cycling) here (in the Valley).”
“He’s taken all his chips on the table and pushed them in,” a thankful Tyler Nothstein says of Chauner. “He’s all in. Every time I saw him (at the premier), he had big smile on his face. Right now it’s not on the NFL or NBA level, but there’s a strong foundation. If we can get on ESPN for a day people would tune in and watch. Just like the NFL has Monday Night Football, we’d have the WCL on a Friday-Saturday.”
Meet the Manager
Few American track cyclists can come close to Gil Hatton’s five decades at the top of the sport. He has won national track championship titles in every category from age 10 through elite, masters and pro. He was Junior World Champion in 1974 and has amassed seven world championship titles and eleven world championship medals. For eight years he was one of the most popular foreign riders in Japan’s Keirin School where he was once MVP and earned more money in a season than any other American cyclist, track or road. Hatton’s coaching talents earned him USOC Junior Development Coach of the Year and have contributed to his popularity as one of the most respected and colorful characters at T-Town. He brings legendary intuition and tactical savvy to the no fear mentality he instills in the Lightning.