Every now and then my husband and I will just go down a road or take a route on a whim. Ride somewhere new to find out when the roads less traveled will take us. Oftentimes it’s a great experience and sometimes: we learn something – even if it’s “don’t do that again!”
Whatever it is, if approached from the right perspective of adventure – an experience out of the norm can be rewarding for just being something new. Nothing ventured – nothing gained, as the saying goes.
It was in the spirit of adventure that I tried out something that I haven’t tried yet: Track Cycling. I will admit that I can be a great big sissy when it comes to doing something ‘new’ on a bike. I have many, many, many scars to prove that a wrong move can hurt. A lot. I’m also stubborn as a mule, so this can occasionally work in my favor.
The opportunity came thanks to a wonderful collaboration between our local Alkek Velodrome and experienced track ladies from two teams (Bike Barn & North West Cycling Club) who came together in order to provide a Ladies Beginner Track Session for local cycling chics. The session sold out in 2 hours. I was very fortunate to make it into the first session and I was thrilled!
Another confession: I’ve never ridden fixed gear before in my life.
Engineers made gears for a reason, yes? Brakes are good – or so I thought. But, understanding that this is Track and therefore different, I thought I’d give it a go. Plus: I heard from somewhere that, if you like sprinting, you will probably like Track Cycling… Ok, sign me up.
Here’s my Run-down:
- If it scares the crap out of you – go faster.
- Clipping in while fixed is tricky. Stopping is trickier.
- Screaming is ok.
- I screamed a lot, and went faster.
- Whatever you do: don’t forget to pedal.
- I learned a lot of stuff!
- No brakes are for your safety. Really!
- It’s all left turns, all day, all night, all the time.
- “Stay” replaces “On your left/right”.
- I screamed “Stay!” too.
- Holy crap, you want me to do what??
- Coordinating slowing down, stopping, and grabbing a wall is absolutely nuts (I screamed).
- Sprinting is fun. (No screaming)
- I like pedaling fast – can I just keep pedaling?
- There are a LOT of different races and LOTS of details!
- I just want to pedal – to heck with stopping.
- I don’t really miss having brakes.
- I need a Track Bike.
In a nutshell, the Ladies Beginner Track Session was a huge hit! The organizers did a fabulous job of putting on a very well-laid out, informative, and frighteningly fun afternoon. Yes, I did scream – but I’m stubborn so I just went faster. The more scared I was, the harder I pedaled because I learned very early that: the slower you go, the easier it was to slide down the 33° turns and I DID NOT want to do that.
So I screamed, pedaled, paid attention to what I was being told, tried to put it into use, and decided that going was more fun than stopping. I’m still not sure about that ‘mass start’ thing and grabbing a wall/rail. Full fingered gloves are necessary here. I’m also concerned that I have yet another bike in my future and I’m not sure how that is (a) going to happen or (b) where I’m going to put it. Fortunately: Track Bikes are the least expensive of all competitive racing bike, usually.
I also witnessed a lady unbolting her chainring and putting it back together like it was no big deal. How cool is that? I know quite a few cycling chics that don’t know how to (or want to) even change a tire, much less mess with a chainring! Plus: we had all sorts of goodies thanks to wonderful donations from local bike shops and our local sweet-treats maker extraordinaire: Cyndi’s Treats with Allgood Handmade! All in all, it was great day and well worth all the screaming and terrifying moments that I was sure I would eat pavement. Hopefully, I can avoid that – and yes: there will be a next time to practice having fun turning left!
Here’s to having no brakes!
Sidebar Story | Biking (and Being) Outside the ‘Box’