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Getting Fixed

Posted by ManintheArena Jun 26, 2008

Last night was my first track cycling class! I spent two hours with about seven other guys learning the ins and outs of riding a fixed-gear track bike at the San Diego Velodrome . While a few guys showed up with their own wheels, I had to borrow a bike. Riding a fixed gear isto use a well-worn phraselike learning to ride a bike all over again.


The class was made up of a mixed group of riders. Some mainly commuters (like me), a few early-20's racers and a few guys who've probably ridden fixed gears for awhile.


The first step was learning how to get rolling. The bikes had cage pedals, but instead of coasting while you get your second foot in, the pedals keep moving with the wheels. So that was the first time I almost fell over. Then we rode around a bit before learning to stop. You gotta go real slow. That was the second time I almost fell over.


The third time was when we practiced starting from the rail on the side of the track, with both feet in the cages. The fourth time was getting used to stopping on the rail.


But eventually we got going, and the concept of "just keep pedaling" sunk in enough for me to keep the rubber side down and discover how truly exhilarating track cycling can be. Sure, you're just going around in circles, but the minute centrifugal force that you experience going around a corner must hit some stimulating nerve in the brain because I kept thinking "I can do this all night!"


At the end of the night we worked on pacelines and the spaghetti and asparagus dinner I scarfed down a half hour before the class began started to work its cramping magic in my stomach. But I stayed upright and in the line. The only disappointment of the evening was when our instructor, Sean Burke, said we wouldn't be racing until probably the fifth class (I'm signed up for six). The Level II people who were there that night looked like they were having fun doing pursuit and sprint races--though they were completely wiped out.


I can't wait for the next class. While driving home, the thought "Can I fit another bike in my apartment?" definitely crossed my mind. Don't tell Emmy.

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Summer time is Do Stuff time. It's always been that way, but for a guy with a full time job, I feel like I'm back in college again -- no time to just sit around.


After a mile swim last Saturday morning at La Jolla Shores, Airey, Emmy and I drove up to Cuyamaca State Park to catch Toby running his first-ever 100-mile race. It was nothing short of inspirational.



We caught Toby at a checkpoint 62+ miles into the race.



He jogged in looking strong, sat in his aid station throne and wolfed down some watermelon, Fig Newtons, root beer and a Snickers bar. Then he was off. His crew had the drill down pat. You can read his race report here (and see a pic of my weekend mustache!).


Sunday, Airey and I drove to Chula Vista for the 3rd Avenue Grand Prix. I signed up for the Category 5 race and under Airy-wan Kenobi's tutelage, gave my first-ever criterium a go! Crit racing is fast and furious. I made some rookie mistakes and eventually fell off the pack. However, I was able to stay close enough to the group -- me and another guy took turns drafting off one another -- to finish the whole race. It lasted about 30 minutes going around a .8-mile course that included a u-turn(!).


I had a ton of fun and learned a lot about cornering, pack riding, sprinting and racing in general. I definitely want to add a couple more crits to my race calendar.


Next up is the Battle at Midway on Saturday, June 15 in and around Midway, Utah. Emmy and I are flying to Salt Lake City tonight, then spending a couple of nights at Snowbird resort after the race.


We had a heckuva time packing our bikes last night. I managed to open a deep "do you think you need stitches?" kind of cut on my knuckle on my right hand, and we're still not sure we'll ship them. The expense that Jet Blue will charge us, not to mention the risk to the spokes, might make it worth renting bikes at the venue. Not a great idea, but we'll see. With water temps in the low 50's, I'll probably be glad to jump on a tricycle at that point.


Oh, and I still owe a wrap-up on Wildflower (one of the best races I've ever done).

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