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Those who live near a velodrome, help us understand why you don't care to race there

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Those who live near a velodrome, help us understand why you don't care to race there

Old 02-21-18, 10:45 AM
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Those who live near a velodrome, help us understand why you don't care to race there

Hi, all.

I've spent all of my racing "career" (if it could be called that) on the track. Atlanta has a thriving road/crit scene but only sees a fraction of the participation on the track.

I know a lot of you race on the track as well as your other disciplines. For those who don't, will you help us trackies understand what (if anything) velodromes can do to get some crossover participation?

Velodromes are relatively rare in the US, expensive, but a lot of fun for training and racing. A lot of top pros have track experience as part of their development and/or ongoing training...or just for fun.



I'm not posting to promote track racing. I'm posting to ask why roadies who live near velodromes don't participate in hopes of identifying and eliminating barriers that track directors might not be aware of. Track racing seems to tick most of the same boxes that road racing does for athletes. But, there obviously are some gaps.

- Does it seem hard?
- Does it seem expensive?
- Does it seem dangerous?
- Does it seem uninviting and/or insular?
- Is it too much hassle to take on a new genre of the sport?
- Are you simply not interested?
- Does it suck? (real talk)
- Other?


On a relate note:
Recently the velodrome in South Florida announced that it's closing due to lack of volunteer help.

Attention: as of Feb 20, 2018 FVA Operations Postponed Indefinitely ? FVA
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Old 02-21-18, 10:55 AM
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As a guy who had raced a lot on the track, it interests me that you don’t even brush against the answer. If I go to the track, it’s generally not an insignifant drive. I’m gone for many hours. Saturday racing at t town has me gone from 8am returning home at dinner. I’ll end up so at best an hour of race tone and way more likely closer to thirty minute bytes. My wife needs to stay home to walk the dofs, or I have to pay a dog walker. If I do crits this can race twice in half the time and win enough money to cover the day’s expenses.

I love track racing. It’s probably far and away my best discipline. But I love my family, and other disciplines too.

Last edited by gsteinb; 02-21-18 at 11:03 AM.
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Old 02-21-18, 11:04 AM
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I feel you. I would drive from NOVA to TTOWN for Saturday racing or training. I know the pain of an all-day trek to race. There’s nothing more fun than driving home 4 hours fighting leg cramps.

I wanted to address folks that live as close to a track as they do their local crits by putting, “For those who live near a velodrome,” as the leading phrase of the title

Last edited by carleton; 02-21-18 at 11:05 AM. Reason: Typos
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Old 02-21-18, 11:06 AM
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Encino and the LA Velodrome are both 75 miles away, but that translates to about 4 hours on the road. I'd at least try it if it were closer.
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Old 02-21-18, 11:21 AM
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I've raced at Marymoor near Seattle, and Helleyer in San Jose. My first race ever was at Marymoor, where I was excited to go 20 mph for a few laps - then got dropped lol.

Track racing is fun - and most tracks have rental bikes for beginners.

I own a track bike, but have turned it in to a rain bike recently. Last time I actually raced on the track was a few years ago - for a few reasons, but the main one is time.

Track events are short, compared to road races/crits. But the time spent waiting for other fields is HUGE. I think I did 3 or 4 events in a night (each event taking 20 minutes at most), but spent about 4 hours at the track overall. That's a lot of dead time.

Honestly I don't know how else it could be - there are other categories, so we need to take turns.

But if I could go there and do 60 minutes of racing total in maybe two hours overall, it would be much more palatable.
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Old 02-21-18, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by mattm
I've raced at Marymoor near Seattle, and Helleyer in San Jose. My first race ever was at Marymoor, where I was excited to go 20 mph for a few laps - then got dropped lol.

Track racing is fun - and most tracks have rental bikes for beginners.

I own a track bike, but have turned it in to a rain bike recently. Last time I actually raced on the track was a few years ago - for a few reasons, but the main one is time.

Track events are short, compared to road races/crits. But the time spent waiting for other fields is HUGE. I think I did 3 or 4 events in a night (each event taking 20 minutes at most), but spent about 4 hours at the track overall. That's a lot of dead time.

Honestly I don't know how else it could be - there are other categories, so we need to take turns.

But if I could go there and do 60 minutes of racing total in maybe two hours overall, it would be much more palatable.
This is normal and actually welcome by some.

Because of the intensity of the races (even the long scratch or points races), the "Race 1 and sit out 2" format works well for recovery. Also, as you progress into the top tier at your track (P/1/2 or CAT-A), your races will be longer and your breaks will be shorter as the top tiers do the longer races (e.g. 60 laps) and lower category races are shorter (e.g. 20 laps) by design.

I've heard track races be described as, "The last few laps of a crit." So, maybe if you use that mindset, you get to race "the last few laps of 4 crits" every race night.

Basically, the volume is low, but the intensity is high.

Also, it could be that you picked a night with a booty race program
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Old 02-21-18, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by carleton
I guess I just assume it's a sport only enjoyed miserable humans like the 2 in the picture.


Going to give myself props her for keeping my language PG when describing them.
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Old 02-21-18, 12:11 PM
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I live 15 minutes from a track and have ridden on it, but slivers keep me from racing on it.
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Old 02-21-18, 12:22 PM
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I put my kid at the track (Carson) at age 11 for youth group sessions. It was an hour drive there and 90 min back and not so bad. We are similar distance from San Diego, and 90min from Encino. If you have Carson as the closest, that seemed fine. The kids were very restricted and kept in a group and after 6 or so months, he never raced. The pedaling was also different from the road where there was a lot of out-of-the saddle jerky stuff as compared to the smoother in the saddle track riding. For an 11 year old this did not cross well and the road climbing was compromised. Then some of the kids that were stars on the track, were not so good on the road, and I think that spilled over a bit. On the nights the kids were there mostly sprinters were training.

6 years later some of the road kids returned to the track for team pursuit and had fun for 3 days at the track nationals. I don't think any of them were track certified and none of them wanted to spend the day doing it. The other national champion track events barely grabbed any of their interest. Only when a road teammate was competing did they watch. My opinion was several of these kids were at least track Cat 2 material as national podium kids. But as Cat 5 on track, Cat 1/2 on road, they didn't care to work their way up and the track kids were not the stronger road riders. So they were seen as separate - USAC makes them separate (a problem) . I don't think anyone bought the track makes you a more skillful roadie argument. There was no pull and no cachet.

Now my kid lives 20 miles from the COS OTC velodrome, but without a car has to Uber to the track. So he gets there and rides around a bit, but there is no group to race/ride with. I thought track made perfect scene for a limited time student/military/athlete because you don't required the miles needed for competitive road at his level and it is more about speed than endurance. It competes with MTB, and cx which are more fun and involve others.
I was at the track 3 weeks ago being mentored for judging. They had an omnium of Scratch, Elimination, Snowball, and a points race. Of course I was forced to watch. I called my kid after in some excitement telling him how much fun the track could be and how much road skills would play. This was different than what we had become used to and I thought a better cross to his skills. He requested a Cat 2 so he could race with some competition and a month later USAC has not done anything. In the other disciplines (MTB, cx) he got bumped immediately to Cat 1 where he is competitive by asking. Track upgrade is not so easy and there is this view you have to do it a while. My opinion is, as a certain age / level the riders know their limitations and can be trusted to not get in over their heads / will seek a mentor. This has proven difficult in track and I don't think elite teens want to be bothered with it.
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Old 02-21-18, 12:28 PM
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45 minutes to an hour of traffic on burned me out for while. I live right near 75/285 so it was easier to ride to the Tuesday night crit in Marietta or do an Atlanta Cycling ride instead of getting in the car and racing at the track. So partially traffic and partially not being interested in riding my track bike all the way down there and back.

I'm planning to start going again this year now that I don't have a road bike and want some intensity during the week. I really enjoy track racing and always beat myself up when the season starts and I don't go.
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Old 02-21-18, 12:41 PM
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When I lived in the Bay Area, I went to Hellyer a few times and took the intro classes. It was fun enough, but as other indicated, not enough to drive 45 min without traffic or up to 1.5 hrs with.
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Old 02-21-18, 12:47 PM
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Hellyer is "near" but the racing is after work, a 2-hour drive away. No can do.
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Old 02-21-18, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge
... He requested a Cat 2 so he could race with some competition and a month later USAC has not done anything. In the other disciplines (MTB, cx) he got bumped immediately to Cat 1 where he is competitive by asking. Track upgrade is not so easy and there is this view you have to do it a while. My opinion is, as a certain age / level the riders know their limitations and can be trusted to not get in over their heads / will seek a mentor. This has proven difficult in track and I don't think elite teens want to be bothered with it.
Doge, the upgrade process is very important. Even road P/1s should "pay dues" in the lower divisions and not simply jump into P/1/2 races with no track experience. Track bunch races unfold differently than crits or road races. It's organized chaos at 35MPH. (Ever watch a world level Madison?)

Our former track director (former continental road pro and track pro) would require road P/1/2 riders to even stay in the pack during beginner races (with true beginners) and not ride away from the start. They could only sprint during the final lap. His thought was that they wouldn't learn anything if they TT'd from the jump using their strength. He was right.

Track racing etiquette is different than road racing. That discipline and etiquette must be learned on the track.

If your son is talented, yet impatient, then that's easy to solve. Be patient, race more, prove that he has the skills (not just the legs) to race in track P/1/2 races, and he'll be upgraded.

I, for one, appreciate a conservative upgrade system as opposed to a liberal one. It's a safety concern.

Last edited by carleton; 02-21-18 at 01:15 PM. Reason: typos
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Old 02-21-18, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot
45 minutes to an hour of traffic on burned me out for while. I live right near 75/285 so it was easier to ride to the Tuesday night crit in Marietta or do an Atlanta Cycling ride instead of getting in the car and racing at the track. So partially traffic and partially not being interested in riding my track bike all the way down there and back.

I'm planning to start going again this year now that I don't have a road bike and want some intensity during the week. I really enjoy track racing and always beat myself up when the season starts and I don't go.
This is why I hosted Saturday afternoon races at DLV back in 2011. I've been asking for it again. Not sure if it will happen (I'm not on the board of directors).

It gave people an opportunity to come from out of town. Also for locals to do chores at home or Saturday errands then race in the afternoon.

The turnout was pretty good, but it was hot.
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Old 02-21-18, 01:25 PM
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I think as someone who lives in an area with a real winter that a velodrome would be very well used here. We have a big racing scene here for the size of city Tulsa is and alot of enthusiasm for cycle sports. It would be great to have a way to carry that into the winter months.
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Old 02-21-18, 01:26 PM
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I feel everyone's pain about driving to the velodrome. Maybe that's the feedback that track directors need in order to attract (or keep) riders.

Atlanta traffic has certainly become measurably worse in the past 3-5 years. During rush hour, for me to get from work to the track for a race night, it will take me 1.5 hrs to go 23 miles that would otherwise be 30 minutes.

DLV has historically raced on Tuesdays (open time trials, masters, women, beginners) and Wednesdays (CAT 1-3, CAT A-C) with racing beginning at 7PM, and most racers arriving about 6PM or so.

Maybe weekend racing is one key? I know TTown would have very high participation in all categories on Saturdays.

Any feedback from those who live within a reasonable commute to a track? Or who's track is a similar time/distance away from their weekly crits? This is who I'm keen to hear from.
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Old 02-21-18, 01:27 PM
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When I'm up in Portland, I'm close to the outdoor velodrome. Unfortunately, I didn't realize it was there two decades ago when I was living in the area. One can pass the parking lot, and not really know what is behind it.

I tried riding a few laps around it, but the 43 banking is intimidating. I just couldn't get up to a speed where I felt comfortable hopping up there.
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Old 02-21-18, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by therhodeo
I think as someone who lives in an area with a real winter that a velodrome would be very well used here. We have a big racing scene here for the size of city Tulsa is and alot of enthusiasm for cycle sports. It would be great to have a way to carry that into the winter months.
Detroit just opened an indoor velodrome. Maybe they would be a good case study: https://lexusvelodrome.com/

Milton, Ontario, Canada has one as well: Mattamy National Cycling Centre Home - Milton Velodrome
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Old 02-21-18, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
When I'm up in Portland, I'm close to the outdoor velodrome. Unfortunately, I didn't realize it was there two decades ago when I was living in the area. One can pass the parking lot, and not really know what is behind it.

I tried riding a few laps around it, but the 43 banking is intimidating. I just couldn't get up to a speed where I felt comfortable hopping up there.
My motto in life, "If an 8 year old can do it, you can do it!" (hahahaha)

You should take the beginner class first. Seriously. Especially if other riders are on the track. I wouldn't want you sliding down in front of me an my $5,000 whip...not to mention a broken collar bone isn't fun.

Steep tracks like Alpenrose are not "community tracks" like TTown (shallow).

Hopping on a steep velodrome without a cert class is like hopping on a local NASCAR track in a car...without a cert class. Now imagine being an experienced driver training on the track with some kid in his new WRX shows up
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Old 02-21-18, 01:34 PM
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I raced at Hellyer most every Wednesday for one season. I worked in Milpitas and it wasn't to far out of my way to drive over to the track and race for the evening.

I got a better job in SF. I couldn't make it to San Jose by 7 PM. Now I moved to SF and technically could leave work very early and sit in rush hour traffic for 2 hours, but I don't think I would do it even if I still lived closer, because:

1) It's a different sport. Feels different. Like if you switched the limbs of a wrestler and tried to make them fight instead. Imagine you compete in some random sport, B-Ball, gymnastics, wrestling, whatever. Now imagine you hear tell of this other "similar" sport, but it is so fringe that it's more like a small group of friends doing some strange activity in a special location. You need different equipment that feels really weird, and you need a different place to do it, and you need to un-learn a lot of your primary sport. Most sportspeople in general would not take the time and effort out of what they love and compete to try out some other similar sport on the side. Do artistic gymnasts also compete T&T or rhythmic in their spare time while training for the big meet? Of course not, that would be ridiculous.

2) It takes away from the primary sport. Racing track every Wednesday really messed with my training schedule. I get home at 10:30 on a weekday and need to wake up at 5:30 to train. Or skip my Thursday workout. It hurt my training and my training hurt my track racing. Pick one. This isn't like cross in the offseason, this was the same season.

Those first 2 points describe why I don't do both at once, but why not just track? It may just be whatever a person loves, or started with. Personally I love going far, exploring, seeing sights, navigating roads. I'm used to gears and brakes and freewheels. When I go race, I do so on the bike and often courses that I can imagine naturally navigating on a day-to-day. Road racing feels similar to road riding. A road bike feels like an extra limb, like a part of my body, while the track bike feels like an awkward prosthetic appendage.

In addition it requires a specialized practice location. I can't take my brakeless fixie out on the roads safely or conveniently. So the only time I used the track bike was during a race. The track may be only 40 miles away, but I'm not doing that 40 mile drive 5 times a week. It's a feels very contrived compared to road racing.

"But Aaron, you like gymnastics? Isn't that contrived? Doesn't that require a special location to train?"

I have no good answer. Except that perhaps the fairly free movement and body-weight training of gymnastics when compared with weight lifting appeals to my "go out on the open road explore" road bike side. Plus, as a kit gymnastics seemed really cool despite the strange uniforms, but cyclist always looked really dorky.
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Old 02-21-18, 01:39 PM
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This is good feedback, Aaron.

Do MTB and CX athletes feel the same "similar but significantly different" vibe between the two genres?
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Old 02-21-18, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by carleton
Doge, the upgrade process is very important. Even road P/1s should "pay dues" in the lower divisions and not simply jump into P/1/2 races with no track experience.

Our former track director (former continental road pro and track pro) would require road P/1/2 riders to even stay in the pack during beginner races (with true beginners) and not ride away from the start. They could only sprint during the final lap. His thought was that they wouldn't learn anything if they TT'd from the jump using their strength. He was right.

Track racing is more disciplined than road racing. That discipline and etiquette must be learned on the track.

If your son is talented, yet impatient, then that's easy to solve. Be patient, race more, prove that he has the skills (not just the legs) to race in track P/1/2 races, and he'll be upgraded.

I, for one, appreciate a conservative upgrade system as opposed to a liberal one. It's a safety concern.
I've seen enough track, cx, MTB, road to convince me you can get very dead in all of them, but they are not the same risk. A Cat 1 in any knows this. A road Cat 1 can get Cat 1s for cx and MTB by asking (USAC policy) - takes 1-2 days. I think, any Cat 1 in any discipline is very aware of the dangers cycling can bring, and they have paid their dues. You could argue racing cobbles, or gravel should require a different license (I hope I'm not giving anyone ideas).

So it is impatient, and it is opportunity cost one vs the other. USAC decided to add categories in each discipline. That helps keep riders in the discipline. I don't know if that was the intent.
Racers have a choice to go do a Road Race, MTB race, cx, ski copper, or do a session on the track. The results do not surprise me.

There were times in LA LUX kids (all road Cat 1s) would have gone to the track, but they couldn't, so they didn't. They did Decker Canyon descents and road Hwy 1 in Malibu - I have no question which was more dangerous. They did Nationals TTT (got 2nd) because they somehow got a wavier to use the track and just showed up and did it. Next week they couldn't ride that track. So they didn't.

So while I agree there are both safety and liability issues, I don't think the category barriers need to be added for elite (Pro/Cat 1) riders from other disciplines. Whether the reasons for the barriers are wise or not, as barriers are put up, fewer go.
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Old 02-21-18, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge
I've seen enough track, cx, MTB, road to convince me you can get very dead in all of them, but they are not the same risk. A Cat 1 in any knows this. A road Cat 1 can get Cat 1s for cx and MTB by asking (USAC policy) - takes 1-2 days. I think, any Cat 1 in any discipline is very aware of the dangers cycling can bring, and they have paid their dues. You could argue racing cobbles, or gravel should require a different license (I hope I'm not giving anyone ideas).

So it is impatient, and it is opportunity cost one vs the other. USAC decided to add categories in each discipline. That helps keep riders in the discipline. I don't know if that was the intent.
Racers have a choice to go do a Road Race, MTB race, cx, ski copper, or do a session on the track. The results do not surprise me.

There were times in LA LUX kids (all road Cat 1s) would have gone to the track, but they couldn't, so they didn't. They did Decker Canyon descents and road Hwy 1 in Malibu - I have no question which was more dangerous. They did Nationals TTT (got 2nd) because they somehow got a wavier to use the track and just showed up and did it. Next week they couldn't ride that track. So they didn't.

So while I agree there are both safety and liability issues, I don't think the category barriers need to be added for elite (Pro/Cat 1) riders from other disciplines. Whether the reasons for the barriers are wise or not, as barriers are put up, fewer go.
If you were a P/1 track would you want to race shoulder-to-shoulder at 40mph on the track with a strong, but unproven rider?...and risk injury that will take you off the bike for weeks/months?

If your son is that good, what's to keep him from ripping it up through CAT3 into CAT2? All he needs is 1 upgrade as most track races (including elite nationals bunch races) only require a 2 for the highest level (P/1/2).

My guess is that your son's upgrade is being held back because your local track director won't vouch for him. Not sure if you know, but that's how the upgrade process works (for track at least). When one applies, the USAC regional rep contacts the local track director and inquires about the racer. If the director declares that kid has the skills, then upgrade is granted.

If you have beef with the track director, then there is a 2nd way...POINTS. Prove that your son has scored enough points in qualifying events in qualifying categories, and it won't matter (as much) what the track director thinks.

SOURCE: Am USAC Official
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Old 02-21-18, 02:14 PM
  #24  
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There's simply not enough tracks, outdoors or indoors.

The US doesn't have "fast" or good train transit making the distance to tracks not as much an issue. I live 3 hours from a track.

In 3 hours you can cross lots of European borders (within reason).

Distance, plain and simple.

If I had to pick......the fact most tracks are sloped enough to be track-bike only.....not a lot of roadies or mtb guys are going to spring for paying for a rental or buying an 3rd or 4th bike.
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Old 02-21-18, 02:19 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by carleton
I feel you. I would drive from NOVA to TTOWN for Saturday racing or training. I know the pain of an all-day trek to race. There’s nothing more fun than driving home 4 hours fighting leg cramps.

I wanted to address folks that live as close to a track as they do their local crits by putting, “For those who live near a velodrome,” as the leading phrase of the title
This is turning into one of those weird call and response threads.

Actually, by any estimation I live close to the track. I'm 25 or 30 miles miles from Kissena, and 1:40 minutes from t-town. And still if I go it's an all day or all night thing. If I race Tuesdays at t-town I get home at like 1am, which basically ruins Wednesday.

Interesting point to reflect on:

Carleton: Why don't you go? help us trackies understand what (if anything) velodromes can do to get some crossover participation?
Matt M: I don't go because there's too much down
Carleton: People like the downtime

see the disconnect?
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