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  1. #1
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    Got hooked on the track this past weekend

    Finally (after a few years) made my way up to the Bloomer Park velodrome in Rochester Hills, MI for their Saturday beginner's class... I gotta say: it was a BLAST.

    I used to ride a fair amount years ago, but stopped when other things - like college - came up. So, my trip to the track saw me back at square one with cycling, but the volunteers and instructors made things really easy and fun. In fact (I wasn't aware of it at the time), the man coaching me was none other than Dale Hughes, designer of the Bloomer Park track plus a number of other tracks around the world. Very cool!

    I'm planning on heading back next week for another intro class, but i'm already looking into getting a track bike of my own so that I have some motivation to ride more. There's a 2009 Fuji Track Pro for sale reasonably close; I might take a look at it during the holiday this weekend.

    Can't wait to go back -- any tips for an enthusiastic beginner? I've been reading Dan Currell's track cycling intro booklet on the Hellyer velodrome website; it has some great info.

    And to anyone in the Detroit area: go to the Bloomer Park track! The first turn is a real rush

  2. #2
    Senior Member Kayce's Avatar
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    Dont get caught in the trap of thinking buying better stuff will make you a better racer.

    Ask as many questions as you can of people about the about stratigy and training.

    A bigger gear isnt always a better gear?

    Ride, all of the time, but with a plan and a goal.

    Spinning off the back in some lower cost race(looks like what they have schedualed on saturday afternoons would be good for that).

    Dont fight for upgrades in racing classes, fight for riding better smarter and faster.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the tips, Kayce! I'll be keeping them in mind today... heading back to the track after work for another beginner's class. Looking forward to it; i'm excited, but always a little bit nervous.

    One thing i'm going to have to buy soon is a pair of shorts... parts of me hurt after riding the last time, some padding will be nice.

  4. #4
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    Say hi if you are there during the elite training nights (tue, wed). Ive got the orange/black bike.

    it's a good time of year to start it rained so much this spring, everyone is out of shape.

    As for what to work on: get comfortable with spinning fast (150rpm), and of course nothing beats time on the track. The few beginners I saw last week were strong but wobbly. It sux being behind someone whos speed is not constant and whos bike darts around in front of you. Keep those arms and upper body relaxed. Many people get too stiff when they are new to the track and cant keep the bike on the line. Steady and smooth is critical when you are in a tight pack on the track.

    Its possible Ill be there tonight I had a friend who me to go with him. But after 3 days of hard practice, my winter legs are getting kinda wobbly and could use a break. More likely I'll take the day off.

    - Charles

  5. #5
    Veteran Racer TejanoTrackie's Avatar
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    Dale Hughes, huh? Brings back memories from when I lived and raced in the Detroit area in the 1970s. Dale had a temporary indoor track that was set up in hockey arenas, 125mm per lap, 55 degree banking, 3g downforce in the turns at speed.

    On another note, if you are going to get cycling shorts, then be sure to get bibs.
    What, Me Worry? - Alfred E. Neuman

    Quote Originally Posted by Dcv View Post
    I'd like to think i have as much money as brains.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
    Say hi if you are there during the elite training nights (tue, wed). I’ve got the orange/black bike.

    it's a good time of year to start – it rained so much this spring, everyone is out of shape.

    As for what to work on: get comfortable with spinning fast (150rpm), and of course nothing beats time on the track. The few beginners I saw last week were strong but wobbly. It sux being behind someone who’s speed is not constant and who’s bike darts around in front of you. Keep those arms and upper body relaxed. Many people get too stiff when they are new to the track and can’t keep the bike on the line. Steady and smooth is critical when you are in a tight pack on the track.

    It’s possible I’ll be there tonight – I had a friend who me to go with him. But after 3 days of hard practice, my winter legs are getting kinda wobbly and could use a break. More likely I'll take the day off.

    - Charles
    Heh, it'll be quite awhile before I make it to any of the elite nights. Right now, I need to get my legs stronger... I can knock out a few miles running without a problem, but it's a struggle to ride hard for more than 15 minutes or so.

    It's a gorgeous day today though, so it should be a great evening to ride some more! I need to get over myself while riding on the blue pace line... I need to tell myself that I don't need to ride any faster to be up there!

  7. #7
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    'bout time we had some nice weather.

    Any biking is good to get in shape. A 50 mile road ride is good for the endurance; mountain biking can be good interval work out - but of course nothing beats time on the track.

    Find your rythem and speed for the track and know when you want to go beyond it (for a sprint) and what your steady pace feels like.

    For elite nights, there is a fast and a slow group. If you can do 20mph in a pace line for 40 laps, you should be ok (you can always drop). That is probably about the same as 15mph solo for 10 miles.

  8. #8
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TejanoTrackie View Post
    Dale Hughes, huh? Brings back memories from when I lived and raced in the Detroit area in the 1970s. Dale had a temporary indoor track that was set up in hockey arenas, 125mm per lap, 55 degree banking, 3g downforce in the turns at speed.

    On another note, if you are going to get cycling shorts, then be sure to get bibs.
    You have experience all over the world, don't ya?

    Dale missed a chunck of the spring training last year because he was over in India constructing the velodrome for the British Common Wealth Games. We could use more tracks like that in the US!

  9. #9
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    Charles, I'm trying to picture if we've met out there yet. I was last there this past Tuesday (black T1, black/white/red jersey and shorts).
    I'm relatively new to the track (a couple beginner sessions the past 2 years, and a half dozen trips this year), and am working on the smoothness myself. Most of my previous riding has been solo prior to the track.

    Quote Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
    Say hi if you are there during the elite training nights (tue, wed). Ive got the orange/black bike.

    it's a good time of year to start it rained so much this spring, everyone is out of shape.

    As for what to work on: get comfortable with spinning fast (150rpm), and of course nothing beats time on the track. The few beginners I saw last week were strong but wobbly. It sux being behind someone whos speed is not constant and whos bike darts around in front of you. Keep those arms and upper body relaxed. Many people get too stiff when they are new to the track and cant keep the bike on the line. Steady and smooth is critical when you are in a tight pack on the track.

    Its possible Ill be there tonight I had a friend who me to go with him. But after 3 days of hard practice, my winter legs are getting kinda wobbly and could use a break. More likely I'll take the day off.

    - Charles

  10. #10
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    Yeah, you met me. There were a couple relatively new faces there tuesday night. Were you were asking me what Dale was worked up about with the last sprint? I had the orange bike, blue helmet and either a neon grean or dark green jersey on.

  11. #11
    Italian Stallion mcafiero's Avatar
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    I have been experiencing the same thrill. In HS I raced with a club called Colorado JAM (Juniors and Masters). I wasn't really very good. Kinda scrawny. 16 years later and I have gotten back on the same velodrome in Colorado Springs. Raced yesterday just did the Chariot race. The guy who has been informally coaching me (a former world champ) suggested that I stay in the back and just get a feel of how things go. Which I did, but about half way around, I was feeling comfortable and decided to push. Finished 3rd and had a blast. Can't wait to go back!
    "Go out hard. When it hurts... speed up"
    I have a grande hairy chest and I am of Italian descent.
    2010 Cannondale Supersix
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  12. #12
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    Awesome!

    Some of those scrawny 16 year old kids really turn out to be quite something. It is interesting watching them develop over the years.

  13. #13
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcafiero View Post
    I have been experiencing the same thrill. In HS I raced with a club called Colorado JAM (Juniors and Masters). I wasn't really very good. Kinda scrawny. 16 years later and I have gotten back on the same velodrome in Colorado Springs. Raced yesterday just did the Chariot race. The guy who has been informally coaching me (a former world champ) suggested that I stay in the back and just get a feel of how things go. Which I did, but about half way around, I was feeling comfortable and decided to push. Finished 3rd and had a blast. Can't wait to go back!
    Are his initials R. V.? If so, he's a very nice guy...knows his stuff, too.

  14. #14
    Italian Stallion mcafiero's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    Are his initials R. V.? If so, he's a very nice guy...knows his stuff, too.
    Ha, yes that's him. Extremely nice and generous guy - invites me to join his team at workouts and has a very sincere love for the sport. I can tell he loves seeing new people get excited about riding on the track.
    "Go out hard. When it hurts... speed up"
    I have a grande hairy chest and I am of Italian descent.
    2010 Cannondale Supersix
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
    Awesome!

    Some of those scrawny 16 year old kids really turn out to be quite something. It is interesting watching them develop over the years.
    It's incredible how fast some of the kids are at the Bloomer Park track. Heck of a sport to be competing in at that age, and loads different than the default soccer or baseball!

    Made it back to the track once more since the original post, but can't get there much more due to weather or work schedule. Going to try and go twice this week to feel it out more and get a little better... Then i'm going to start looking for a bike for myself. I visited a couple of bike shops around here, but they don't seem to understand that me asking for a track bike means I want a track bike, not a hipster-spec fixie.

    There's a Jamis Sonik close by, but it's a hair pricey, and i'm worried it'll be too much machine for a newbie like me.

  16. #16
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cincyenginerd View Post
    There's a Jamis Sonik close by, but it's a hair pricey, and i'm worried it'll be too much machine for a newbie like me.
    If you buy a bike to match your current skill and strength, you will buy bikes every 6 months. Buy a bike that your skills and strength will "grow into".

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by carleton View Post
    If you buy a bike to match your current skill and strength, you will buy bikes every 6 months. Buy a bike that your skills and strength will "grow into".
    Did just that, and bought the Sonik. It came with a set of bullhorn bars and a front brake as well as the stock Deda bars, so I can use it a little more comfortably on the road.

    Only issue is that the previous owner installed a 46x17 gearset onto the bike, which (from what I have been reading) might be a bit low for the track. I'm still excited to take it out for a spin regardless!

  18. #18
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cincyenginerd View Post
    Did just that, and bought the Sonik. It came with a set of bullhorn bars and a front brake as well as the stock Deda bars, so I can use it a little more comfortably on the road.

    Only issue is that the previous owner installed a 46x17 gearset onto the bike, which (from what I have been reading) might be a bit low for the track. I'm still excited to take it out for a spin regardless!
    Congrats on the new bike.

    Yes, that gear is way too low for the track. Might I suggest asking the local racers what gears that they suggest for you for your track. Is there a message board for the track? If you can't get any info from them, here are my suggestions:


    Basic Safety Checks:
    - Buy a new chain so you know what you've got. There are lots of great single-speed chains out there, but I suggest the Izumi ECO if you don't have any other preferences.
    - Buy fresh tires and tubes (if you can afford it). Again, so you know what you've got. While you are at it, put on new rim tape. I like Velox rim tape. Every decent bike shop should have it.
    - Check every bolt on the bike to make sure nothing is loose.

    Beginner Gearing:
    - Every track is sort of different. Each track sort of has it's own culture about gearing, so whatever you hear from experienced locals at your track trumps what we say here.
    - If your bike doesn't have cranks with 144BCD (bolt circle diameter), then I suggest buying a crankset that does. 144 is the track standard.
    - 48x16 - Warmup Gear from hear on out and your 1st beginner race gear.
    - 48x15 - Your 2nd beginner race gear.
    - 49x15 and 50x15 for when you start to get your "legs under you". The 50x15 is a beginner and intermediate race gear.

    So, that's 3 chainrings and 2 cogs to buy. But, the 48t, 16t, and 15t combos should last you at least a month or two as you get stronger.

  19. #19
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    You could use a 46x15 for starters, and then a 46x14 as you got stronger (this is going to squeeze in between the 49x15 and 50x15 that carlton mentioned). The 46x15 is good early in the season and as you build your strength back up, and as a warm up gear. It is also good for getting your leg speed up. the 46x14 is a good race gear. That is the easy way to get started - sooner or later you are going to want a bigger chain ring, but it is not something you need immediately. In the mean time get used to the bike and the track (they do go well together).

  20. #20
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    Tried to respond to your DM Charles, but I don't have enough posts!

    Yup, that was me... I had missed a deal on a Fuji Track Pro down in Columbus, and was really wanting to get a bike before the season started to wind down. Ryan's Sonik was originally well out of my price range, but I managed to sell my Cannondale TT bike last Tuesday, which sealed the deal for getting the Jamis on Wednesday.

    It's a gorgeous bike, looking forward to riding it around town and at the track. I ordered some new pedals, so waiting on those to head up to IVBP, but have gotten the chance to do a beer run on it to the local Kroger's already.

    I'm planning on heading up for another newbie night this Thursday, and will be up once again next week before I get my bike ready... Thanks again for the tips on gear selection (both you and carlton). Looks like I have a few more goodies to buy.

  21. #21
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    Where I dont go cheap on upgrades; saddle, shoes and shorts.

  22. #22
    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    I go cheap on shorts at the dome. Plenty of us have torn up shorts from mishaps that do happen from time to time. I hate to tear up a $100 pair of shorts because I slid along the banking. I save the $100 shorts for century rides where I need them.
    ;-)

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