Friday, December 21, 2007

Racing into 2008

Every New Years I begin to get a little reflective, thinking about what has happened in the previous twelve months. I try not to make any judgments about what was or what could have been, but instead simply look at what I gained in either knowledge or skill, and how I will apply it to the New Year at hand. Several things remain at the top of my mind, fighting for space in my daily thought processes with meaningless tasks like working, eating and sleeping. What does fall into the scope of this article is the little subject we seem to cover quite well in this monthly magazine: bicycle racing. Or, more importantly, what types of racing we’ll be doing in 2008.

There are so many choices, aren’t there? Mountain biking, Road racing, Criterium, Track, even BMX exists in the Dallas / Fort Worth area. Some readers, I hope, are not racers at all but may perhaps be considering bicycle racing as a progression in their hobby or evolution of their current involvement in charity events around the region. I’m sure most people are looking at mountain bike, criterium and long distance road race events as the most obvious ways of getting, or staying, involved in this wonderful sport, but I want to call some attention to the Superdrome. You know, the high banked wooden track that is tucked away in a little hamlet called Frisco.

For those of you who don’t know, the Superdrome is a 250 meter long, high banked (44 degrees in the corners), wooden surface race track on the Collin County Community College campus off of Preston road. The facility includes the equivalent of a Jumbotron, some really trick timing and scoring devices and is populated throughout the year by a band of very motivated, devoted and ludicrously fast cyclists who range in age from ten to 70. Something else that is nice is that the track is open for practice nearly every night of the week from March through October, weather permitting.

Something else that is both commonly known, and commonly misunderstood, is the fact that a track bike has only one gear, no brakes and you can’t glide. This, I’m sure, sounds incredibly archaic and torturous. Both of these are accurate adjectives, but I also like to throw in safe, structured, flowing and intense. The safety in this is that no one on the track is going to be changing their speed abruptly, and the structure of rules and courtesies creates an atmosphere that promotes controlled aggression and respect.

As a training methodology the track offers riders innumerable means of building massive power, incredible stamina and blindingly high cadence. All of these things can offer great benefit to a cyclist involved in any other branch of this faceted sport, but what I enjoyed most out of my 2007 track racing experience is the camaraderie and friendship that is so quickly on offer when you walk through the gates. Training advice, encouragement and friendship are readily available to those who seek a little more from this sport than sidelong glances, instant drops and gritty snarls during their rides. Of course, if you want those things, there’s plenty to go around during the Friday night races!

If you’re new to track bikes and fixed gear riding the Superdrome staff can help by providing a morning of instruction, a rental bike (even for races) and lots of advice. Honestly, there’s no reason not to try riding at the track, even if you don’t plan on racing.

To get things started, why not come out and watch a few races. When you get to the track, don’t go straight to the grandstand. Instead, walk up the two flights of stairs to the left of the timing building and take a look at the whole complex. If gazing down at the rush of riders from the top of the banking doesn’t drop your jaw and get your heart racing, then you definitely have some thrill issues. The season starts in March, and we’re excited to welcome a crop of new families and racers to the best kept secret in cycling.

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