fast friday

In all about the ride, los angelenos, stateside, travelling on December 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm

The boys at Orange 20, tell me about the fast Friday heat that is happening out at a velodrome in Encino. After listening to their instructions about the best way to get there. Writing them down obviously. On the Sunday that it happens I’m grabbing the metro and a bus, which might as well be a metro, for all of its straight line no interaction with other road users course. I shove my bike into the rack on front and sit watching the destinations tick away.

I’ve got to say I do love the bike racks on the front of the buses here. LA is a spread out kinda town, and the buses make it slightly more manageable, for those journeys that are too fucking far you can just dump the bike on the front of the bus and sit back and let the bus take you there. Only problem is that you can only fit three bikes on the racks.

After getting off the bus at my stop, its a leisurely roll through the park, over a  bridge, and then along a dusty track until I get to the velodrome, down a road and behind some fencing. As I roll up and have a quick chat with the organisers a couple of guys from DVS, its pretty quiet. I tell them who I am and they fill me in on whats happening, all the qualifying rounds around the country, leading to one big shootout, for a big amount of cash.

I sit down in the stands take off my shoes and watch the riders roll in, in dribs and drabs. There are some of the guys from Orange 20 so I walk over to the center of the velodrome and have a quick chat with them. Its all very laid back and west coast, seemingly no stress or pressure at all. Even thought there’s a large cash prize at the end for the winner. Whats interesting is the small group of fixed/freestyle riders who are going to be involved in a competition at the same time as the racing which brings together two steadfastly different “scenes” which I’m thinking even as I watch it wouldn’t happen over in london, just a bit too much generational divide to overcome maybe.

My thoughts about the laidback nature of the competition are buried as more riders turn up and their track weaponry unveiled and tweaked for the coming races. Stiff alu dolans, and tubular wheelsets mounted, gearings swapped over and game faces applied. It got serious in a hurry. And as the races start, there are some seriously quick people on track, the rumble of a group of riders flashing past is intoxicating and I’m smiling from ear to ear. This reminds me that I have a track bike for a reason and come next summer I’m going to be doing the same as these boys at Herne Hill whenever I can. I’m going to grit my teeth get down on the drops and push as hard as I can, jump onto a man’s wheel and let him pull me round even as the velocity ratchets up, try and keep pace, until I make that break for the line.

But for now I watch these californians race, the exertion etched in their faces as they slowly spin round on the wind down, cheats heaving, sweat dripping, all raced out, until the next heat, semi, final.

I had a good time, and came out of it with a free t-shirt and a bit of track fix, which I didn’t think I’d get since I’d be missing the track days back home, but it was nice to see how the other side race and compete, even if I couldn’t get on the track and race with them.

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