December 18, 2004
After so many years of riding road bikes, I finally decided to give track riding a shot. Since I've been planning on getting into racing this season, it occurred to me that racing at the track might be a whole lot safer than a criterium, and the races are a lot more frequent. It's a bit of a drive to the Hellyer Park Velodrome in San Jose from Santa Cruz, but I really am very lucky to live this close to one. Not a whole lot of velodromes in the USA.
I was also a bit concerned about the whole fixed gear thing. I had heard enough warnings about free-wheeling and getting launched off the bike that I was a bit intimidated. I fully expected that it would take me a while to get used to the track bike. I had also been thinking about the advantages of racing with a bike other than my Trek. A track bike is a whole lot simpler beast as well as a whole lot cheaper. The thought of crashing on my Trek has always kept me from thinking too seriously about taking up racing. It all added up to the need for a trip to the velodrome to see about this track riding thing.
They have beginner sessions every Saturday morning at the velodrome, and they even rent the bikes. I headed out nice and early on a crisp, clear morning. I was the first rider at the track and had a chance to ask plenty of questions. Everyone there was exceptionally helpful and informative. It really is a different feeling riding with a group for 3 hours at the track as opposed to 3 hours on the road. I also got the hang of the track bike much faster than I expected. I felt pretty comfortable riding instinctively after only the first hour.
We practiced a whole range of techniques including the flying 200, bridging, team time trial, and follow the leader. We tried a few races including a pursuit. I have to say that the whole day was a huge rush. I had a ton of fun riding the track, and was very happy with my first sprint and race efforts. I'm really looking forward to heading back out to the track again very soon and making it part of my regular training. Now I just have to get the family to come along for the trip.