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MCF member clubs welcome new members of all levels. Here are just a few.
Contact:  Jared Roy
Website:  Crossniacs
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Contact:  Kevin Lennon
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Website:  Little Guy Racing

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Moving From The Road To The Track

What a roadie needs to know about racing on the velodrome

Track RaceTwenty years ago, every American road racer had a copy of Bicycle Road Racing by Eddie Boryscewicz.  It had everything you needed to know about the sport, and it’s a good thing that it did.  It was pretty much the only guide to road racing available in the U.S.

Now, of course, there is a flood of information about road racing available – which is great.  But when a road racer decides to start racing on the track, there is nothing to explain the basics of track racing all in once place.  This is my attempt to solve that problem.

- Dan Currell (Cat 1 Track, Cat 2 Road), St. Paul Bicycle Racing Club

This is no Bicycle Road Racing – and I’m no Eddie B.  But the challenge of helping road racers to start racing on the track is pervasive.  Unlike a novice road racer, a Cat. 2 roadie in his first race on the track presents a dangerous mismatch of strength and skill.  He has the legs to compete with an elite track field, and just enough skill to hurt himself and others in the process.

Why is starting on the track a dangerous thing?  It was said that in World War II, most casualties occurred during the first month of action.  If you made it past the first month, you were probably OK.  There was a steep learning curve, the learning was in the details, and the details weren’t intuitive.  You had to experience them to get them right.  (For the record, I would have been shot on Day 3.  I don’t pick up on details quickly.)

Track racing is, needless to say, safer than war.  More on that below.  But the analogy here is that the devil is in the details, and the details aren’t intuitive.  
Viewing a track race from the sidelines, an experienced roadie will likely conclude that it’s a lot like a criterium.  It’s not.  And that’s where problems start.  Track racing is quite safe when everyone knows what they are doing, but it gets very dangerous when someone in the field only thinks he knows what he’s doing.

Two notes on this.  First, if you can’t figure out who the poseur is, it’s you.  Second, if you know that you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re probably fine.  Respect for the track’s idiosyncrasies, even if you haven’t mastered them, will keep you safe.

Frustrating as this is to experienced road racers, the track transition requires a real investment of mental energy to learn a new craft and understand how to succeed safely.  It’s an effort worth making – track racing is exciting and addictive, and you will be a better athlete for it.  So, read on, and dive in.  It’s one of the world’s great sports, an Olympic treasure, and a longstanding American sports tradition.

 Read More:  Why Race On The Track?


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