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Old 01-13-09, 10:58 PM   #1
ronbridal
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Grass/Flat Track Racing

I would like to take an old soccer field in a run down park and make a flat track for my friends and me to race around. I would like the course to be 333 meters length so we can throw in some 1k races. Unfortunately I'm not skilled in math and don't have any real tools besides a long rope (200 feet) and my bike (with computer). I could probably come up with a tape measure if needed. So . . . what I would like somebody to do is explain to me how I could use these tools to accurately (or at least close) paint a line that we can race around.

The main way I thought I could draw the curve on each end of the track would be to use the long rope to paint two circles on the field, and then connect the two circles using straight lines. If I stake the rope in the ground, measure off a certain distance, then paint the circle as I travel around the center at the radius I selected, I should have a perfect circle. But, what radius (in feet) should my circles be, and what distance should the centers of the two cirlces be from each other? Or, if there is any easier way I would also be open for other suggestions.

Yes, this sounds dumb to some. But I think my friends and I will have a blast with this. The closest velodrome is a few hours away and I think this could be something cool to do in the off season. We all have track bikes and would love to put them to use. I would also imagine that we might even wear out all the grass and end up having a dirt track. This could be kind of cool as well. Tire selection could become very important and people would be encouraged to use their creativity.

Anyway, can anybody help with construction ideas? Any other ideas about things we could do to spice things up even more?

A short track mountain bike course could also be in the works around the perimeter of our fancy little grass track, which could add tons more fun.

Let me know your ideas.
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Old 01-13-09, 11:12 PM   #2
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Alright, I tried the search function and read through some other threads so I know about what's been posted so far. Unfortunately one link didn't work which had one probably would have been construction ideas on it. Now it's up to you!
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Old 01-13-09, 11:15 PM   #3
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what kind of tires do you use for that? your using a track bike? I go off road on my kilo sometimes on campus but it's not my idea of fun.
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Old 01-13-09, 11:23 PM   #4
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Track bike to start with. Tires will be fatter, probably 28mm. I saw some people in one post recommend Tufo Diamond treads. I have a set I run in cyclocross sometimes. They could work I suppose. I'll look into that as we get closer to setting up the course. I've only raced on the track once, but have raced cx for the last few years. So bumpy stuff doesn't worry me much. In fact it would play to my strengths. If track bikes wouldn't work I woulnd't be opposed to just using my cross bike, many of my friends have both cross and track bikes anyway. It would be great if you were a math wizard who could help me with the dimensions . . .
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Old 01-14-09, 08:01 AM   #5
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I can't help you with the numbers business but grass track racing was VERY popular in the UK many years ago and is still practised. They use track bikes but they would have been a bit more relaxed than the modern track bikes. There should be much info about it out there.
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Old 01-14-09, 03:26 PM   #6
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this will be pretty close to 333 meter. Place two stakes 60 meters apart. Draw two circles of 34 meters radius around each stake. connect the circles. Each straight is 60 meters, each curve is 106.5 meters long, for a total of 333 meters per lap. you will need to experiment on the radius of the turns, given no banking
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Old 01-14-09, 04:36 PM   #7
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Honestly, (geared) cross bikes clean house on this stuff. We were doing this in my area, using poles as the corners, but what happened is that you just couldn't keep any speed in the turns fixed gear, thus having brakes and a freewheel just let you turn so much faster. I was running my Van Dessel fixed and brakeless with conti twister pros (running a whopping 38 x 17), I was getting my ass beat by the cross guys, and I usually destroy them on the road.

So either keep the turns really wide or be ready for anyone with a cross bike to win.
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Old 01-14-09, 05:22 PM   #8
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Honestly, (geared) cross bikes clean house on this stuff. We were doing this in my area, using poles as the corners, but what happened is that you just couldn't keep any speed in the turns fixed gear, thus having brakes and a freewheel just let you turn so much faster. I was running my Van Dessel fixed and brakeless with conti twister pros (running a whopping 38 x 17), I was getting my ass beat by the cross guys, and I usually destroy them on the road.

So either keep the turns really wide or be ready for anyone with a cross bike to win.
Yeah, a cross bike seems ideal. The other thing mentioned to me was the height of the bottom bracket and trying to pedal through the corners. I have a few ideas given to me that I think will work. The key will be to make sure the turn radius is great enough that it doesn't cause problems. Just coming out of cross season I was looking for something else, but cross bikes might be the best solution. Anyway, once things warm up around here I'll be heading down to the fields with the plans I have. Hopefully things warm up soon, it's supposed to be pretty cold here in IL today and tonight.
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Old 01-16-09, 02:59 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ronbridal View Post
Alright, I tried the search function and read through some other threads so I know about what's been posted so far. Unfortunately one link didn't work which had one probably would have been construction ideas on it. Now it's up to you!
That was probably the link in my old post! I've just managed to find the article again, the host website has been redesigned. You can now find the article here: http://www.sportengland.org/se_facilities_cycling.pdf
It includes a brief section on designing a grass track.
A word on choice of bikes, track bike vs. cross bike.
A cross bike is likely to prove faster if the bends are so tight that you have to slow down considerably, otherwise a track bike is likely to be the faster option.
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Originally Posted by merlin55
this will be pretty close to 333 meter. Place two stakes 60 meters apart. Draw two circles of 34 meters radius around each stake. connect the circles. Each straight is 60 meters, each curve is 106.5 meters long, for a total of 333 meters per lap. you will need to experiment on the radius of the turns, given no banking
That'd do the job perfectly. Here in the UK I've ridden on grass track from 200m - 400m. Anything below 300m is a bit tight, 300-400m is ideal.

I wouldn't worry too much about grounding your pedal in the corners despite there being no banking. The slower speeds that you'll reach on the grass means that unless you're on a really tight track or riding a bike with a low bottom bracket there should be no problems. On a 333m track and a genuine track bike (rather than a Langster type fixie with low bottom bracket) you'll be ok. I ride 170mm cranks on my grass bike and have never had any problems, even on tighter tracks than the one you're considering.

Grass track is great fun and a very good workout. Enjoy.

(UK grass track rider)
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Old 01-16-09, 08:48 PM   #10
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That was probably the link in my old post! I've just managed to find the article again, the host website has been redesigned. You can now find the article here: http://www.sportengland.org/se_facilities_cycling.pdf
It includes a brief section on designing a grass track.
A word on choice of bikes, track bike vs. cross bike.
A cross bike is likely to prove faster if the bends are so tight that you have to slow down considerably, otherwise a track bike is likely to be the faster option.

That'd do the job perfectly. Here in the UK I've ridden on grass track from 200m - 400m. Anything below 300m is a bit tight, 300-400m is ideal.

I wouldn't worry too much about grounding your pedal in the corners despite there being no banking. The slower speeds that you'll reach on the grass means that unless you're on a really tight track or riding a bike with a low bottom bracket there should be no problems. On a 333m track and a genuine track bike (rather than a Langster type fixie with low bottom bracket) you'll be ok. I ride 170mm cranks on my grass bike and have never had any problems, even on tighter tracks than the one you're considering.

Grass track is great fun and a very good workout. Enjoy.

(UK grass track rider)

You ROCK! I can't wait for the weather here in midwestern US to break! I will check back in frequently to post how things are going. I have the dimensions now that I need and will be able to get the marks down on the ground once things become comfortable. Please feel free to contribute.
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