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Riding in Circles! Ok, ovals.

A couple months ago, Ross and I were invited to go up to a velodrome in Boulder. We kindly declined the invite citing that fact that Lincoln had his first soccer practice. First, we had no idea what a velodrome was, and the more research we did on it, the more scary and intimidating it sounded.

According to Wikipedia, A velodrome is an arena for track cycling. Modern velodromes feature steeply banked oval tracks, consisting of two 180-degree circular bends connected by two straights. The straights transition to the circular turn through a moderate easement curve. It looks something like this:
Although the velodrome in Bolder is smaller and STEEPER. It looks more like this:See that rider? He is approaching a curve and will be riding on a very slick wall that is banked at 45 degrees.

So, when we got to the track, I was more than a little intimidated and wondered exactly how I got here.

See, the one thing about me is that, given the opportunity, I will try to face my challenges head on. So when we were invited to come this time, we accepted. For me, I look upon my biking skills as a BIG weakness and I thought that this would be a safe environment and opportunity to work on that skill set.

Seeing the track and some of the experienced riders on the track, I began to doubt the safetiness of it all and if I would be able to do it. The riders were zipping around steep embankments and taking the curves with ease. I immediately felt out of my comfort zone, but decided to stay there and face the track head on.

At first I wanted to just jump in and give it a go, but I am so glad I didn't. Tim, the instructor, showed the newbies around the track and explained how it worked, what the various lines on the track meant, the angles of the track, how to stop (did I mention our bikes had no brakes?), how to enter/exit the track, etc. After, I was glad I got the information before just jumping on.

It was a lot to intake, so here is what I took away:

- If I went too slow, I would fall off.
- Beware of others around me.
- If I went too slow, I would fall off.
- If someone was passing me, don't veer laterally.
- If I went too slow, I would fall off.
- When in doubt, ACCELERATE!

And after being explained the basics, we were off.

For the first 2 minutes straight, I said over and over to myself "Accelerate in the curves. Accelerate in the curves. Accelerate...". I was convinced that if I did, I wouldn't fall off. And I didn't.

Secondly, I realized that the previous riders were so speedy on the track because if they WEREN'T speedy, they would've fallen off. So, I kept up my speed.

I just continued to ride the track, keep up my speed and worked on my bike handling on the track and especially in the corners. The corners were the steepest and the tightest. The further down the track you got, the harder they were. So I tried to go down to see how far I could get.

The next challenge, getting OFF the track. Exiting the track actually required slowing down to a speed where you were fast enough to stay on the track and then making an exit right before you were about to fall over (from riding on an angle slowly) and then continue riding on level ground until your bike slowed to a stop. Mind you, we had to do this without brakes and while we were being aware of those around us. Scary, but we got her done.

Here are some picts from the ride.Some riders warming up on the "straights" (14 degrees)

Riders taking the curves (45 degrees)

Along with simply riding on the track, (crazy-fun as it was once you got going), Tim also led the groups in various exercises to practice cornering, speed, and other bike handling essentials. I was really surprised how fast I caught on and how much I enjoyed it. To think, I was improving one of my weakest skill sets and enjoying myself at the same time! Just the thought of being able to ride on an 45-degree angle was enough to make my money worth it!

So, there you have it. One scared Randi. One crazy riding experience. One happy rider (and many others - pictured below!).