Sunday, October 4, 2009

On the track

On Saturday I rode on the track (read velodrome) for the first time. It was an interesting experience. I have ridden fixed gear bikes before but never on a track. The reason for doing so was rather simple: Larry had invited Alistair to join him on the track in preparation for Alistair's camp at the Olympic Center in Colorado Springs next week. Since I had to drive out to San Jose anyways, I figured I may as well ride.

At first it felt a bit claustrophobic to ride so close without brakes and on a narrow course with no clear escape. However, after a while I got used to it but then I had to deal with another problem that was potentially more dangerous. And that problem is to stop spinning. I was a bit surprised because I had ridden fixed gears before and was kind of used to it. I also ride on rollers a lot and there too you keep going. You think spin and things are fine. However, I had never raced a fixed a gear. When you race a whole new situation develops. Ironically it happens once you cross the finish line. We did some race simulations and I had a few close brushes with disaster.

It is odd but one has a natural tendency to stop spinning after a hard sprint. You simply sit up and stop spinning once you go past the finish, but when you are on a fixed gear that does not work so well. You get this sudden unexpected hard jolt in your leg and if you lock up, you have a high probability of going down. It happens and sometimes there are serious consequences. Unfortunately, locking up is almost a reflex action when your leg gets jolted. I.e. it too happens before you are aware of it. Double whammy. I quickly learned to avoid this problem by not going all out. That way you don't feel the need to urgently stop spinning and you can coast rather easily.

There was another situation where a lockup almost happened. I was coming into the last turn while passing someone and suddenly found myself very close to the guy I was overtaking. Maybe he cut into my line a bit, I am not sure but there it was. My first instinct when it happened was to stop pedaling and grab for the -non-existent- brake. That too happened before I knew it. I.e. I only realized what I had done after the fact. The upshot was a rather severe jolt that almost made my lose my balance. I also lost the sprint even though I was clearly faster than the guy in front of me.

More things to learn! Think spin, think loose.

Here is the recap of my week:
Monday, rest
Tuesday 1:15 on rollers, pretty hard.
Wednesday 1:30 run, the shepherd loop
Thursday 32 mile ride to top Redwood, suddenly developed a stiff link in my chain while shifting to climb Manzanita.
Friday 40 mile ride, Redwood to Lafayette, over Happy Valley and home. Met Darryl on Grizzly Peak and invited him over.
Saturday 3 hours on the track
Sunday 30 miles with Alistair, two hard fast climbs (Wildcat and Grizzly).

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