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Beginner's Class Report

Old 08-21-10, 10:27 PM
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Beginner's Class Report

So, today I took the beginner track class today at Encino Velodrome. FUN!

I got there around a half hour early. It was around 11:30 and around 90 already.. hot. I walked over to the track and there were two guys with bikes training. Neither was the class instructor, but it was cool watching them ride.

This is one of 'em:


Other than those guys, the track was deserted. Eventually another car pulls up and a couple gets out. I chatted with them a little, nice people. He's a road racer and brought his girlfriend because she wanted to take the class.. After a while, the instructor, Ken, arrives. And just before noon (start time) another guy shows up with his own bike.

So now there's three of us taking the class. Liability forms are filled out, money is collected, and Ken then proceeds to tell the boyfriend he's taking the class too. After a couple minutes the guy was convinced, plus he got a discounted fee, but it's cool, the more the better. So now we're up to four people. The couple gets their rental bikes and we're down to the track to get started.. boy it was hot out...

The instructor went over the basics, what the markings on the track are for, where to enter the track, where to exit, when you should ride on which lines, how to pass safely, how to follow safely, etc., then we hopped on the bikes and rode around behind him a couple bike lengths from each other. It's so weird riding on the banked corners and a little scary the first couple laps. Luckily Encino is grippy and there's little chance of slipping down at low speeds. Then a few more tips under the shade and we tried riding a pace line around a wheel length to each other, alternating the lead. That was fun.

After a while we did a couple races.. 200 meter race, and then matched us up for a pursuit race, with just 3 laps. That was hard on my legs.. yeah, i'm a track newbie. In the 200m race, i was 3rd out of 4 people I got beat by the girl too.. but the excuse I'm sticking to is my gearing. My legs were spinning like mad and I couldn't go faster (46x16), while the chick and her b/f had rental bikes which looked like they had smaller rear cogs.. dunno. maybe i just suck, but i refuse to admit it In the pursuit race, i won that one, but I don't think the other guy was trying very hard, or he might've had street gearing too, his bike was a conversion with risers. I think he was just there to have fun and learn, which he seemed to do, we all did.

That's basically it. We got a little free time at the end to ride around the track some. That was pretty fun. I want to do it more now, but I definitely need to get a bigger gear ratio..
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Old 08-21-10, 10:54 PM
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Originally Posted by bhop
So, today I took the beginner track class today at Encino Velodrome. FUN!

I got there around a half hour early. It was around 11:30 and around 90 already.. hot. I walked over to the track and there were two guys with bikes training. Neither was the class instructor, but it was cool watching them ride.
Yeah, Encino can be a ton of fun, and the heat strangely adds to it a lot of the times. One of my favorite race days was 108 F and hardly anybody showed up-- only really hardcore racers, so nobody even had a canopy. It's especially odd in the spring and fall--no matter how hot it is during the day, as soon as the sun goes down the temperature drops like a rock and you freeze to death if you didn't bring a blanket.

It's pretty much impossible to slide down the banking at encino from going too slow, unless you go and smear grease on your tires, and maybe not even then.

Don't worry about feeling like you suck when you start-- it actually takes a while to develop a lot of the track skills to race really well, but it's tons of fun while you learn and get better. If you decide to race it's a lot more social than road racing-- there's a lot of time sitting around in the infield between races.
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Old 08-23-10, 09:50 AM
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Nice writ up! Yeah, I would blame it on the gearing too!

Someday you'll have to find a track with banking close to 45 degrees. That gave me vertigo the first couple of days I rode on a track like that. Definately don't want to go slow
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Old 08-23-10, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by chas58
Someday you'll have to find a track with banking close to 45 degrees.
There's one about an hour from Encino that's also tons of fun: https://lavelodrome.org
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Old 08-29-10, 12:27 AM
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Encino's my all-time favorite track. Lots of memories. Dunno if snakes are still a problem, but back in the day they used to be regulars. One day a rattler decided to walk around on the track during a points race. The pack parted like the Red Sea! Chris Bevan walked up to some poor sucker on the infield and asked to borrow his Silca track pump. Then he walked up to the snake. Whackwhackwhackwhack! Hands the pump back with snake guts dripping from it and says "Thanks". I don't remember who was announcing that day but he was apoplectic: "Uh, sorry about that, everybody. We don't normally treat the wildlife like that here..."

And I remember when they first got those big fancy lights installed. For some reason a bulb would break every 15 minutes and shower the track with glass. Not like anyone used good tires at Encino (I guess 90% of the field rode Conti Sprinters, back when they were still considered -- and priced -- as a training tire) but it still caused some nerves.

And Rick Denman, coaching tandem drivers on riding with blind stokers, made us all put on blindfolds while he drove us around. Someone decided it would only be fair if he suffered the same treatment, upon which some sort of middle-ear ailment was diagnosed: Rick managed half a lap before flinging himself off of the bicycle like a drunken grasshopper. Told everyone he was absolutely sure they'd been about to crash.

I really need to get down there again sometime...
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Old 08-29-10, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Six jours
Dunno if snakes are still a problem, but back in the day they used to be regulars. One day a rattler decided to walk around on the track during a points race.
walk?
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Old 08-29-10, 07:25 PM
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His business. I wasn't going to tell him otherwise.

Damn nit-picky ducks around here...
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