Have you ever been to Rock Hill? Yes, Rock Hill, that small town off 77 about 10 miles after you hit the SC state line. If not, get there fast - it’s home to the Giordana Velodrome. I know, in Rock Hill! First, let’s start with the obvious question - what’s a velodrome? Before I moved to the area and took up cycling, I would have guessed-it was something like the Thunderdome in Madmax? You know, two men enter, one man leaves…or something like that.
|Thanks to Jenny Leiser for the photo!|
Take a moment - look at the picture. Ready to hop on and ride? Yes, that’s what we all thought when we exited the tunnel leading us to the center of the infield for a group lesson on how to ride track bikes with some other Ice members. Ohh did I forget to mention, when riding around the 250m track with steep embankments you’re riding a fix’ie! Yea fun. There are no brakes and no shifting because there is only one gear, yes, that means no coasting. It also means the pedals will always be turning whether our legs want them to or not. The day started with some quick lessons about the lines on the track, rules for passing, yada yada yada. Then we were off to practice - getting on and off our bikes, stopping, slowing. Well come to find out it’s hard as s*** to start and stop a fixed gear bike and doing that when your peddles in a low position, forget’a’bout’it. It’s a good thing we had the flat infield lap to practice on.
After some tooling around on our bikes our instructor had us venture out onto the main track. He shouting some fleeting words of advice to us “if you drop below 13MPH your bike will slip out from under you in the steep turns…. however riding rented track bikes that are not equipped with speedometers. I have zero idea if I’m on the verge of breaking the track record or hovering right above the magical 13 miles per hour…. You had best believe I was peddling faster and harder than I ever had… entering every turn…..
|Thanks to Jenny Leiser again!|
To give you a better idea what cycling is like in the velodrome: Think about you and your best bud riding side by side like a great 80s montage. At the velodrome that 80s montage of you and your bud side by side would have your head at the same level as best bud wheel. Riding below or above a person in space is a really a strange feeling but then you get to swoop down from the highest point to the lowest point yelling “Rail” to indicate your intentions to other riders….. It's instantly addictive and I want to sweep down the high wall again and again yelling RRRRAAAIIIIILLLLL.