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 is
to 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.