LA Velodrome – VELO Sports Center

PTC went on a field trip to the VELO Sports Center (Velodrome) in Carson, CA.  We had the track to ourselves for intro certification class and riding course. It was thrilling, scary, and awesome!

Jeff, me, Luis, Steve, Michael, Alvin, Peter, Michel, Gregg, Kirk.

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The Velodrome is a cool and unique facility. It’s the US Olympic Training Site and home for US Cycling national track program. It’s the only indoor international standard track stadium in North America. 250 meter size track, 45° incline. They were hosting a volleyball tournaments in the infield today.

Los Angeles Velodrome Racing Association.

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It’s located next to the StubHub Center Soccer Stadium, where the LA Galaxy and CHIVAS plays their home games.

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First we put our own pedals on the rental track bikes.  Bikes are track bikes.

No Brakes, no gears, no shifters, no water bottles. It’s crazy different. Clipping in and starting is really weird. But slowing and stopping is ridiculously weird. Totally foreign muscles required. Applying pressure is the name of the game.

Steve

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Michael. Big Thanks to Mike for pulling this awesome event together!

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Racks of rental track bikes. Aluminum frames, but super light, since there’s no groupo at all. There’s another second rack of bikes on the other side to the right.

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Kirk

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None of our guys had ever ridden track bikes or fixies. Our first lesson was learning to stop and start on a fixie. Only one crash: Alvin. Instructor said we were the best class he ever had. We did great.

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Next we learned how to navigate the different zones on the track.

Safety rail.

Apron: Dark blue area. Used to start and stop. Enter and exit the track.

Safety zone: Light blue area. Gain speed slowly and enter the main track.

Sprinter’s lane: Between Black Measurement line – Red Sprinter’s Line

Passing area: Between Red line  – Blue Stayer’s line

You only ride in a counterclockwise direction.

Only pass on the right side. Scream “STAY” to any guy ahead of you, so he stays put while you pass.

Gregg, Kirk.

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Instructor and our guys lined up.

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My only selfie. It was crazy-nerve-racking on the track. New bike to handle. New track bike to accelerate and decelerate. Slippery surfaces. Close contact with other rides. Too much going on to take pictures.

All I can say about riding up on the blue line, OMGOMGOMGOMG.

It was thrilling, fast, fun, scary, intimidating, and crazy cool. Since it was inside, my Garmin didn’t work, so I don’t know how fast we were really going. Minimum speed to avoid slipping out is at least 18 mph.

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We finished with a fast revolving pace line. It was awesome. I stayed on the bottom and took some videos.

This field trip is what I love about PTC. This is something I could never have done by myself. I’d be too intimidated and scared. It’s something really really challenging and bleeding edge of crazy. The club has prepared my legs for this. Riding together with friends made it more comfortable and reassuring that I could ride evenly and safely with them. The club helped cover some of the costs too, which is great but not as insurmountable as the mental and physical parts of track riding. This is so different than any other riding I’ve ever done. I learned something new and that is what’s really great. Trying something new and having fun friends to do it with. Awesome. Awesome day.

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If you’re still reading this, there’s tons of interesting things I learned about track racing and the LA velodrome.

Fun Fact #1: For the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, the cycling was at an outdoor velodrome which was located where the Soccer Stadium is today. It was a much larger dimensionally. For example, a soccer field could fit on the infield of the old velodrome. Now, only 3 volleyball courts can fit in the infield. Reason is for spectator appeal. Smaller tracks are more exciting to watch.

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Fun fact #2: The wood for the track is Siberian pine. All replacement wood is stored inside the facility so that it ages the same and can be installed at any time with similar stretch and bend. Facility is kept at 72°F, 50% humidity.

Fun fact #3: When you slide out, you’re likely to get a butt full of splinters. We luckily never found out first hand today.

 

 

 

 

 

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