For those of you who don't know what a Velodrome is.... it's an indoor, oval track with steeply banked 180 ° turns on either end. They label them 1, 2, 3, and 4 for convenience when referring to them, but the banking is such that the high end of the turn, in the Boulder Indoor Velodrome, is over 25 feet off the floor. The tilt is made so that the rider can actually be nearly vertical through the turns, and it actually makes it so that you lean less when going through them than you would on flat pavement.
Yeah... the track really does go that high... I'm standing at the top of the number one turn, looking down from the spectator area for this picture and you can see the far wall of the track tilting up and up and up...
They started us on the bikes just going around at the bottom "apron" of the track... the gray and blue parts of it. The bikes are weird, but for safety on the track, the pedals go directly to one gear on the wheel. Your legs have to move the whole time, there is no gliding, there is no braking. The only way to stop is to move your legs more slowly, and to simply go slower.
I was pretty intimidated to start, but I really wanted to try it, and I had a terrible time with the toe clips to start, as they just didn't open and I couldn't stop to get one toe in, my feet had to be moving the whole time. Finally, I copied John and just leaned myself and my bike against the inner wall and strapped myself in. This after the first two "warm-ups" were complete failures because I couldn't strap in.
I really wanted to try it, in some sense. Enough that they called my group for the spring exercise, I just rolled on in; and I was very glad that I did because now I know that I can ride on top of a 25 foot wall at a nearly 45°ree; tilt and not only survive it but grumble at someone tell me to speed up so that I didn't fall off the wall. *laughs* It was exhilarating when I did get up to speed and did stay up with no problems, and after riding around and around at that top blue line and someone said go, it felt amazingly good to basically fall down that wall, pick up speed, and sprint around and around the thing trying to go as fast as I could. The speed was surprisingly good.
The funny thing was that when I was on the wall I wasn't afraid, at all, of falling off. That I didn't have to lean the bike at all for any of the turns, that they were just *there*... and it didn't matter. The physics of it was fascinating.
On the second sprint, I kind of got mad, as the first group had only done one sprint, and I wasn't expecting to have to stay up that long or go that fast that long AGAIN... and with the anger, I got a sort of control I hadn't had the first time, and I rode between the black and red line like I was on rails while I had the leg to do it. The amazing thing, for me, was that being that low was scarier than when I was way up on that curve because I was going so damned fast. When the finally called it, I was shaking all over.
I hadn't had dinner, yet. *laughs* So a few slices of pizza and a pop later and I was much better. I did worse damage to my throat than anything. With the winter air here being so dry and I hadn't had much to drink before hand, so I dried my throat out so thoroughly that water and pop and even food didn't really help as much as I wanted it to. I'm still sipping mint tea with honey in an attempt to sooth it.
After the ride, I was content to watch everyone else, knit a little, and watch Jet do his riding. *laughs* That was fun, and it was really nice to talk to other friends of theirs. The exercise, I think, relaxed me, but now I'm a little sore, more in the arms and back than the legs, as I've been riding a lot lately, just not that FAST. *laughs* I felt so SLOW, compared to the guys that were working there, but then... they're actually competitors... *laughs* Of all the people I could be comparing with, the lady in front of me does triathlons for fun and the instructors were on their way to nationals, so of course I was slow compared to them.
I should just be happy I did it and didn't kill myself or anyone else. *laughs*
But hey, it's kind of cool thinking about having a fiftieth birthday party where one gets to do something one has never done before.
*falls over giggling*
And here's a video of a guy riding the track I just did. It makes it look all the more evil. *laughs and laughs*