Monday, June 11, 2007

Racing at the Velodrome

(Written a week or so ago...)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted last! I haven’t done a whole lot of races, but I have gotten in some good experience at Kenosha’s velodrome, aka the track. Kenosha’s velodrome is the oldest operating one in the country, and it has a 28% grade on its banked corners (or that’s what I hear, anyhow). Steep and good for fast cornering. One of my friends, Cale, loans me a bike when we go down there. To race on the track you need a ‘track bike’, which is a bike that has one speed and no brakes. It’s illegal to have more than one gear or any brakes attached. The bikes don’t coast, so the pedals move as the bike moves, and your feet are strapped to the pedals, for better or for worse (usually for the better). In order to slow down, you use your legs to try to slow the pedals. It sounds dangerous, and it might be on the streets, but on the track it’s standard, and you have plenty of space to slow down and stop (usually about half a lap after the finish line).

So there’s everyone’s lesson about racing on the track for the day! A few weeks ago I was at the track for opening night and I got to race four races, to varying degrees of success. There’s a lot of strategy to these races, so I was happy that I successfully finished, didn’t cut anyone off or commit any other party fouls. The first race I did was the women’s race, which was three laps long. I got stuck in a bad position for part of the race, but it turned out alright and I got 3rd place, coming in with my front wheel right behind 1st place’s rear wheel. Not bad for a first race! I then did the women’s unknown, which means you don’t know how many laps it will be. The officials ring a bell for the last lap and then everyone goes all out. One of my friends, who was also racing, and I thought it might be something like 7 or 8 laps, but it turned out to be 1! We were caught off guard and finished poorly. We felt cheated, so we jumped in the next race with the men (which is permitted for some races), and then a while later the compensation race, which was about 40 laps long. Since it was with the guys, I didn’t do too well, but it was good to get in some more races. During the compensation race I rode with Russel, who rides with the Hayes team, and he showed me some good techniques. We took turns drafting off of each other and I got more comfortable drafting and switching back and forth. It’s good to know how to do, because if you race with teammates, your team can stay in front of the pack without any one of you getting too tired. It’s what my friend and I were planning to do for the women’s unknown, but it was too short! Next time we’ll get ‘em.

I went down and watched this past Tuesday, but didn’t race because of the racing fee. Of course, once I was down there I really wanted to race, but I managed to keep control of myself (barely). I’m doing some mountain bike racing this weekend, so I’m saving my money for the entrance fee of that one. More on that one in a few days, I would imagine, and I should have pictures to go with it.

No comments: