Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Brian Piccolo Park Velodrome

Last time I was in Florida there is a velodrome 20 minutes from where I was, so twice on beautiful nights I drove over to see track riding. Twice I didn't see nuttin'--while the BMX Park next door was jammed there was nobody on the lit velodrome in the early evening--even with the velodrome renting oddly shaped (bent seat tube almost puts the wheel under the seat of these fixed gear-no brake machines) track bikes. So this time instead of hitting my mom's over-55 condos health club with a dozen tvs blasting CNN or FOX, I decided to bring helmet and pedals and hit the velodrome. Mom wanted to see it also, which was fine as she could bring her new toy--a digital camera--and take some photos of me on the track.

Check out the seat tube on this brakeless fixed gear, putting the seat over the rear wheel. (Photo by mom)

First evening was a mini disaster. "The coach" (who trained Chris Hoy) was off and he is the only person with a pedal wrench. While my pedals go on with an allen wrench I wouldn't be able to take the cage pedals off the rentals albeit the two smallest machines that had no pedals attached. No choice-and for $9 was able to rent a (small) bike and ride on the velodrome for 2 hours. No one else showed up except in the final 15 minutes so I had the place to myself--which was good as I cautiously crept a little higher and a little higher every time going around the 25 %?? bank at the ends. The banking means you don't have to lean the bike through the turns--which might be a disaster with a fixed gear and the possibility of pedal strike. The disaster I was waiting for was for the seat post, extended to the maximum, to come out--luckily it never did. No odometer on the bike and I planned to go around the 330m track** 60x but often lost count as I changed up doing a lap for speed and then doing a lap zig zagging the track as I climbed up the steep part. Darkness hit-the velodrome lights work nicely-mom went inside to read or pester the staff, and I continued to ride around 80x. Stopping for my water bottle on a bench was hard with no brakes so I finally put the water bottle in my jersey pocket. (**The 330m is measured from the inside near the infield, I figure my laps done up higher on the oval made the distance 25% longer)

Next time I went out "coach" was there and even though he had a pedal wrench at first he wouldn't let me use it as many people get into accidents riding their street pedals in a velodrome. I told him I did a 200 mile ride on a fixed last year, and he felt sorry for me when I reached for the "kids bike" I used a few nights before, and gave me the wrench. Cool- got a funky KHS track bike, definitely went faster than the first evening. Mostly all alone--did some laps for time and also rode up and down the the wall. Not bad weather for January. The long straightways only have mild banking but check the steepness of the curved ends of the track (top) behind me or (bottom) what I'm riding on near the top of the track. Weird feeling going through a turn at speed with bike straight up. (Doris photos)

At one time disaster struck and chain came flying off, which coach fixed for me. (The chain was so dirty I didn't want to touch it.) Coach gave me a tip on to how to finally stop (glove against front wheel) and when I noted it was a shame that track was deserted he told me that as Florida is pancake flat and most riders stay on the street, they have trouble going on the velodrome slopes. Towards the end of my @80x lap session about a half dozen track cyclists did come out, a few from one local race team, all with disc rear wheels. Good to see the velodrome in use.

The road riding in Southeast Florida is disgusting--bike lanes on busy roads that suddenly end. Only time I saw many road cyclists was early, very early, Sunday Morning. Highway A1A was popular but it is very busy with traffic. In comparison Northern California is much much better but I wish we had a local, nearly empty velodrome to do night winter riding at 70 degrees.
Opa-Locka City Hall with "NO Ifs..Ands or Butts" violation sign outside which I doctored a little. (all additions found in South Florida)

OK--this has nothing to do with the velodrome but everything to do with South Florida--the strange town of Opa-Locka built along Ali Babba Way to look like a town out of Aladdin. A few dozen buildings in "stucco crazy" fashion in the center of this poor town so the buildings are not in the greatest shape. It kind of looks like an oversized miniature golf course.

No comments: