Wednesdays at Alpenrose here in PDX is drop in day. $5 gets you in, and another $5 gets you a track bike rental. I went with fellow BF’er Barleyrocket from the road forum, a great guy with a super attitude. His motto seems to be “If you can’t laugh at yourself, you can’t laugh at anyone.” We got our bikes and stepped out onto the track, watching the more seasoned riders spinning around… we both started to get a little nervous at the angle of the track. I’ve heard Alpenrose has one of the steepest banks in the country, and I believe it.
We got split up into groups of 5-6, each with a knowledgeable racer to coach us through. The head dude gave those of us who’d never ridden the track his official speech, outlining the rules:
-Keep pedaling. (Duh, but I understood some people might not be familiar with fixed gear.)
- Yell “Stay”, and pass high.
- Go faster.
- Have fun.
As he was talking the more advanced riders kept riding. One guy hit the top rail, slid down and broke his collarbone. Didn’t make my confidence feel too at ease.
So our groups took off, at first at an easy paceline at the bottom of the track. After two laps I realized I was hooked, started thinking how I’d have to explain another bike purchase to my girlfriend. Anyways I got comfortable taking the bank really quickly. No crashes, just a lot of fun. At the end of the session they broke us up into A,B,C groups. The A’s (advanced) lined up and raced a flat 10 lap, forgot what that was called. Those guys killed, pretty fun to watch. Next they picked out who they thought were B’s, and Barley and I got called. Lined up and took off for my first track race. Seemed like a fairly easy pace, but I just worked my way to right behind the leader and drafted for 9 laps. Coming in to the final stretch I thought I had it locked in but 2 guys sprinted past…Oh, well. There’s always next week.
Here’s some pics:
A couple of the faster guys coming out of the high turn.
Barleyrocket and I warming up. (Barley's in Blue, I'm in red.)
Here's our group in the easy paceline.
Barleyrocket practicing his victory pose.