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A Hopeless Yearning?

Old 04-04-10, 04:36 PM
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A Hopeless Yearning?

Hope this question won't get me laughed at too much, but here it goes:

I am a 31-y-o female who only began to cycle a year ago after not having been near a bike since age 17. I ride an IGH city bike for transportation and a vintage 12-speed Motobecane for light touring. I have pretty much learned cycling from scratch over the past year. I have never ridden a fixed gear bicycle, and have never ridden clipped to the pedals.

Recently I visited a velodrome with an acquaintance - not to ride, just to watch. So I watched, and it was one of those "and the angels began to sing" experiences. I can't get it out of my mind, and now I want to do it too.

What course of action would you recommend for someone like me? The velodrome has no programmes for beginners, so it is up to me to get myself to the shape and skill level where I'd need to be. So what should be the first step, including what kind of bike to get? Is it better to start with a fixed gear roadbike and get comfortable riding it in a local park? Or get a track bike straight away? ...Or am I just too old to start at this point and shouldn't bother?

Your advice appreciated!
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Old 04-04-10, 05:35 PM
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First off, congrats on finding a new passion.

Secondly, you are definitely not too old. Nowhere near it. You've got at least another 30-40 years of good racin' left in you

What track is your local track? If you can't make a beginner class there, maybe another track within a short drive will have one. These classes make things a lot easier and help new riders get the jitters out. Most velodromes require such a class, or some sort of proof of having completed one at another track, before racing. The stuff isn't hard. It's just necessary to keep everyone on the same page when out on the track.

As far as getting a bike goes, it depends. It depends on your financial situation and it depends on how well you know yourself. It's sort of like being interested in playing the guitar. Are you interested, or are you REALLY interested and sort of know that it's gonna take some work? If you think you are going to stick with it for a while, then work towards buying a decent bike (or guitar) once. If you aren't sure then maybe borrow/rent one for a while till you have more info about whether you want to go further with the sport.
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Old 04-05-10, 06:25 PM
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+1 for what Carleton said.

Only thing I have to add is that I wouldn't say riding fixed on the street is easier or safer than riding on the track. Out on the street, even in a park, you'll need to stop quickly at times. On the track, no one has brakes so you pretty much just move up or down track. Besides, you'll have plenty of time to practice in open training where you can go at your own pace before you start your first race.
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Old 04-06-10, 07:40 PM
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Thanks for your replies! Without my telling a complicated story about my life, let's just say that I do not have the opportunity to practice or take beginner's classes at a velodrome. To practice, I would basically need to get a bike and ride it in circles in a parking lot or back yard. I do not plan to ever ride fixed gear on the street, only at the velodrome. If we take it as a given that the only way I can practice is on my own, am I right in thinking that I should get a cheap old fixed gear in my size from C-List? Or are there modern options I should know about?



The velodrome I have access to is this one. It is indoors and has a wooden track - a very cool place.
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Old 04-07-10, 02:26 PM
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That's a wonderful track! You are right to want to take advantage of it.

A beginner class is almost always required. It covers track etiquette and safety and is required for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, mishaps rarely involve just one person. Bone-headed moves happen all the time, many of which can be prevented by following the basic rules set forth in the classes. If you don't do so or are considered to be hazardous, then others won't want to ride or race along-side you. Even if you can't find a class, maybe get an experienced person to give you a private lesson. Of course, the track director will have to approve. It's his/her job to keep the track safe for everyone.

One doesn't necessarily need to train 100% on the track to have success on the track, but you will have to make time to get very familiar with it before racing. Especially in the beginning.
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Old 06-22-10, 06:06 PM
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Update: A friend let me borrow a vintage track bike, and - to my amazement - I have been riding it without mishap and with much enjoyment! It is a custom frame that was made for an Austrian bicycle racer, and it just happens to be in exactly my size. I will be staying in Vienna again this Fall and in Spring 2011, and will buy a seasonal velodrome license for the 2010/2011 season. If I practice all summer, I think I will be ready. Thank you for your support; I am so excited!



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Old 06-22-10, 06:53 PM
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If it helps, I started track racing at 48.
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Old 06-22-10, 10:36 PM
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I'm 40, I've had spinal surgery and have been a cyclist all my life. I started on the wood two years ago and love it. I don't get there enough.

But if I had YOUR track, I'd be there a LOT more. It's big and gorgeous. Ride it until you can't.
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Old 06-24-10, 11:57 PM
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I can relate to the OP 100%. I went to the local velodrome for the first time yesterday. Before that, the closest I had been to one was watching Youtube clips. I planned to take the beginner's "track development class" but arrived too late after car (and navigation) troubles. I watched jealously from the stands, wondering if one of my old homebrew road conversions could survive a few laps.

I had the same "angels singing" experience. I've never been on the track, yet I feel it in my bones that it's something I need to do (or at least try).

It's going to be a long two weeks until the next class is offered and I get to try it for myself.
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Old 07-10-10, 04:58 PM
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Hey guys, I pretty much had the same question as her, except that I am 17 years old. I was afraid that maybe you could only race if you born into it or something? But it appears not.
If I took the brakes off of a Mercier Kilo TT, would that be appropriate for track racing?
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Old 07-10-10, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by atmosmurs
Hey guys, I pretty much had the same question as her, except that I am 17 years old. I was afraid that maybe you could only race if you born into it or something? But it appears not.
If I took the brakes off of a Mercier Kilo TT, would that be appropriate for track racing?
Yes. My only recommendation would be to switch to clipless pedals if you have not already done so.
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Old 07-10-10, 05:26 PM
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Would a bike that cheap set me behind?
The feet should have nothing restraining them to the pedal?
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Old 07-10-10, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by atmosmurs
Would a bike that cheap set me behind?
The feet should have nothing restraining them to the pedal?
Clipless pedals are a cleat system that connects the shoe directly to the pedal. You buy cycling shoes that pemit you to attach the special cleat that is supplied with the pedal. It is important to have your foot securely attached to the pedal so that you can push and pull in all directions. That bike is perfectly suitable to get you started in track racing. The main thing is that it has the proper geometry for use on banked tracks, which it does.
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Old 07-10-10, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by atmosmurs
Hey guys, I pretty much had the same question as her, except that I am 17 years old. I was afraid that maybe you could only race if you born into it or something? But it appears not.
If I took the brakes off of a Mercier Kilo TT, would that be appropriate for track racing?
sure!

Im very competitive in the beginner class at my velodrome riding my Kilo TT. The only thing holding me back is my fitness.
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Old 08-03-10, 06:39 PM
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I am joining in on this thread with the same thoughts at the OP myself.. i'm 37 and went to a velodrome for the first time this past weekend. Now I want to try it, but can't help but feel like i'm too old to really get serious about it. I don't know if i'll be racing, especially with the younger crowd. I just want to have fun on the track.. There's a beginner class in a couple weeks at the Encino Velodrome i'm planning to go with my Sputnik so at least i'll know if it's for me or not.
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Old 08-03-10, 08:30 PM
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Just try it, don't worry about your age. Anyhow, you've got a head start on me! I started track racing when I was 40, and I recently won my regional kilo championship against juniors and elite-age riders. Especially at the local level, age just doesn't matter much.
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Old 08-03-10, 08:48 PM
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You are never too old to start track racing. I started racing on the track at 38 - only two seasons ago...

Racing you are grouped in grades so race against people of similar ability. Also you can race Masters events too so race against those of similar age.
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Old 08-03-10, 10:04 PM
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I like these replies
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Old 08-03-10, 11:15 PM
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Age is no limiter! I raced the Masters World Track Championships in Sydney last year and saw guys and gals racing in the 60 and 70+ categories. They were not as fast as the younger age divisions but still enjoyed some great racing!
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