I am whole heartedly in the throws of recovery. I have had a week completely off which allowed me to catch up on lots of loose ends. Very nice! Steve with Practical Coaching had mentioned about 6 weeks ago that we were going to pay a visit to the velodrome, and to "be ready". Now I am all about Steve throwing new challenges at me. Remember my first ever road race this year, 84 miles of craziness. Then he threw me in the crit, where I crashed, and returned to the race to an adrenaline pumped finish. So, what could the velodrome do to me?
Tyler, Steve and I had visited the Boulder Indoor Cycling center while it was being built and I admit, I was freaked. How on earth is someone supposed to bike on a 45 degree banked turn. Scary! When I arrived on Saturday it wasn't nearly as scary because the track was no longer in construction, but completely built, and ALL MY PEEPS WERE THERE TOO. There were 12 of us Practical Coaching athletes there for a private session, Steve had rented the track. Of all twelve of us, two had been on a velodrome before, one of them was Steve (who doesn't count).
We got fitted and put our pedals on our trusty fixed gear bikes that the Velodrome provided. Now, in case you are unaware, track bikes have no breaks, only one gear and you can't coast, you must pedal them at all times. This particular track is indoor, so the turns are tight. It reminded me of a roller rink on drugs. In fact, I kinda wished I had my roller skates using your skateboard ramps.
We broke into girls (plus Tyler) versus boys and after lots of tips and explanation from our instructor the girls (+T) were up.
We peddled on the flat area at the bottom of the track for a few laps, then we tested going up on the base line and back. After a few laps of that, our instructor yelled at us to get up on the track and PEDAL! With a track bike (fixed gear) you can't coast, you must pedal continuously. I rode up on the track and before I knew it I was going around a turn (because I didn't really have a choice), and then pedaling harder, and then going around another turn and another and another. I knew in my mind how steep the turns were, but it just felt natural on the bike.
It was crazy, don't get me wrong. But, it was awesome too. I just wanted to go around and around along the upper blue line all day. I messed with going high on the turns and then staying down low. Before I knew it our instructor was calling for us to slow down and exit the track.
Ummm, he never explained how to get off the track. That was the scariest part. When you are on the track you don't have to turn, you feel like you are just riding a straight line. When you come off the track you are suddenly on the flat ground, going kind fast, inside, and you can't really slow down with any consistency and you have to turn. That was a little wild.
Then it was the boys turn. They were hilarious. Some were just as cautious as we were, and others we more crazy from the get go. Steve's son did phenomenally. He was the shocker of the day.
Our instructor was impressed with us. I think he was expecting a group of typical triathletes who don't focus on cycling skills and handling ability. Steve works very hard with each and every one of us on our skills and that seemed to shine through. The girls took another turn this time following the instructor and learning how to go high up the turn and shoot down on the straight away. We did some laps hugging the bottom line and for me, that was the most fun. The tight inner turn is fast and you can feel the force pushing you and your bike into the track.
Steve was yelling at us the whole time to "close the gap", and "stick our elbows out", so when it was the boys turn again we took it upon ourselves to yell back at him in an equally annoying fashion. He deserved it!
The session ended with ten of us on the track practicing our skills for the last 10 minutes or so and mixing it up with the boys. 4 people in our group bought fixed gear bikes to take home, as the track was having a sale. That cracked me up. We were instantly sold. Plus, triathletes love bikes. It was nothing but smiles all around, every single one of us had an amazing time. We can't wait to go back and do it again!
I know that amongst the cycling community triathletes aren't considered "real cyclists", but I hope that some of those stereotypes can start to change. We all have to start somewhere and some of us started as triathletes. I hope to someday be considered a cyclist, runner, and a swimmer, true to form in each regard. The trip to the velodrome really helped me to feel like I am becoming a more complete cyclist.