Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Velodrome Training

Houston's Alkek Velodrome  has a training program that will certify you to race in the velodrome. The next training session is this Saturday May 21st Noon to 3:00 PM.  You can get the details from their Facebook Page which gets updated more than their web site.  They provide the instructor and bike you just need to bring your enthusiasm and bike gear.  At $20 this course is a bargain.

Ever since I first saw velodrome racing in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics I have wanted to try pedaling on the banked oval and was able to check this off the bucket-list a couple years back.  My course was designed to run Tuesday & Thursday evenings over two weeks.  We had rain delays and dates got moved around.  By the end of the sessions our group of maybe 30 had whittled down to 6 graduates.  I haven't raced since but am happy to say I gave it a try and completed the training.  Some advice:

  • Get ready to ride.  There wasn't a lot of time spent getting to know you or chit-chatting.  It was hi see that line? Stay above it. Enter the track here and exit there. Now get on your bike.  We went around the warm up circle in the middle of the track a few times (my first time ever riding fixed gear) and then we were on track.  It was a little unnerving.
  • Relax.  After each session my forearms were killing me.  I was squeezing the handlebars so tight because riding fixed geared, no brakes, on a bank was such a strange feeling.  When I finally relaxed and enjoyed the experience my arms and hands eased up.
  • I would recommend bringing your own pedals.  When I did the training I was too lazy to take the pedals off my road bike and used the old school pedals that were on my loaner bike and wore my running shoes.  Trying to get my foot into the clips on a fixed geared bike I couldn't coast was hard.  For a couple sessions the clips I had were really old and laid smashed against the pedals making it impossible to slip my foot in.  I was already the slowest Fred (damn straight I wore my mountain bike helmet) out there and hearing the instructor yell at me to "get in the clips" didn't help.

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