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MCF member clubs welcome new members of all levels. Here are just a few.

Nomad Marketing Cycling Team

Contact:  Jason Lardy
Website:  Nomad Marketing

Shamrocks Racing
Contact:  Rob Danneker
Contact:  Jared Roy
Website:  Crossniacs

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If You Only Remember A Few Things
  • Don’t Lose a Finger.  Fixed gear bikes have no slack in their drivetrains, nor freewheels to let off pressure if you get your finger stuck in the chain.  No shortage of mechanics and (more likely) amateur dabblers have lost a finger (as in, chopped right off) by getting it caught in the drivetrain while the wheel was spinning.  Don’t do this.  A track bike’s spinning drivetrain (i.e., when it’s on the repair stand) is a very dangerous thing, and for goodness sake, keep your kids away from it.
  • Track Bikes Have Two Brakes.  You have two brakes – your left leg, and your right leg.  Because the gear is fixed, you can slow yourself down by putting reverse pressure on the pedals.  Just like riding a trike when you were a kid – that thing didn’t have “brakes”, did it?  But stopping was never really a problem; you just couldn’t stop on a dime.  Same thing here.
  • Learn to Use Your Brakes.  Using the “brakes” on a track bike requires some advance planning.  You can’t jam them on at the last minute; they don’t work that fast.  So you need to be thinking about when you may need to slow down, and start easing up in advance.  What you’re doing here is analogous to a truck downshifting to go down a big hill – the gear itself controls the vehicle, but it can’t quickly bring it to a halt.
  • Plan Ahead.  Because of how you modulate speed on a track bike, you can’t come screaming up behind someone and figure on slowing down once you get there.  If you are chasing down a rider or group in front of you, hammering up towards them from behind, be careful.  On the road, you would tend to freewheel as you were approaching their slipstream, and perhaps cheat out into the wind a little bit in order to take some of your speed off – or feather the brakes.  Well, on the track, you can’t freewheel, it’s a little harder to just roll out into the wind to slow yourself down, and you don’t have those kinds of brakes.  So, the first time you chase down a breakaway on the track, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise when you catch them and your bike starts naturally accelerating into the slipstream of the rider ahead.
So, plan ahead.  As you start catch the rider in front of you, back off the pedals, and ease yourself into the slipstream.  It’s certainly more efficient not to have to put back-pressure on the pedals, so best thing is to time it just right so you don’t have to.  Just gently ease into the draft.
  • Learn to look over your right shoulder.  American (and continental) roadies are accustomed to looking back over their left shoulders on training rides to gauge traffic coming from behind.  (You may never have thought about it that way, but you’ve probably looked over your left shoulder thousands of times, but rarely your right.)  Well, on the track, you need to be in the habit of constantly looking behind you on the right side, since that is your natural blind spot, and it’s also where riders will tend to accumulate behind you.  If you’re looking to pull off the front of a group, or just move to the right (“uptrack”), you need to habitually and always look over your right shoulder (“do a shoulder check”).  Most track crashes occur when a rider moves uptrack (to the right) without checking his blind spot, taking down the rider behind him.  You need to make sure the space is clear.
  • Looking over your right shoulder actually does two things.  Obviously, it lets you see who’s there. But just as importantly, it signals to riders behind you that you are going to be moving uptrack soon – and they’d better clear out.  An exaggerate shoulder check – really visibly twisting your head to the right – is the safest route.
  • Ride fast in the corners.  For tracks with a steep banking – all tracks 250 meters or shorter, and even some 333-meter tracks with a steeper banking – if you ride too slow through the corner, you will crash.  Very, very hard.  So:
  • Short tracks have steep banking, and it’s steeper in the corners than on the straight.  It’s so steep that your tires won’t hold the surface of the track without the assistance of inertia – a centripetal force that keeps your tires planted on the track as you go through the corner.
  • Don’t ride slower than 25kph (16mph) on a steep banking.  This truly is the lower boundary.  If you are slower than this, your tires may at any time instantly disappear from underneath you, and you will fall like you’ve been dropped out of a second-story window.  If there are riders to your left, you will sweep underneath them perpendicular to their line of travel, and great carnage will ensue.
  • If you go slow through the corner, your outside pedal will clip the surface of the track, because your bike is too upright, because you are going too slow.
  • So – if you’re going slow, and come to the corner, what should you do?  Drop down to the “apron” – the flat part of the track that’s usually painted blue (also called the cote d’azure).  Since you are going slow, this is fine, and it’s perfectly legal.  If you watch elite match sprinters, they commonly proceed along the apron when they are marking each other in the first few laps, because it’s physically impossible to ride through the banking at a walking pace.  When in doubt, drop down onto the apron.
  • This is actually a mistake that even elite riders make when they are racing on a new track – perhaps most notoriously, the ADT Velodrome in Carson, CA.  It’s a 250-meter track with a fairly slick wood surface.  It’s a beautiful track, and it’s often used for national championship events, but riders coming to it for the first time tend to crash at low speeds in the corners.  At elite nationals in 2007, there were at least four or five crashes like this – and these are Cat. 1 and Cat. 2 riders on the track.  But they were used to longer tracks with a relatively shallow banking, and they took it too slow in the corners.
  • Pass on the outside (right), never the inside (left).  The second-most common cause of crashes in track racing is when a rider gets down underneath – to the left of – another rider who is already low on the track.  This invariably happens on the straightaway, as an inexperienced (or too-aggressive) rider tries to jump through a gap on the straight.  Well, when those two riders arrive at the corner, the rider on the inside is going to be forced by simple inertia to come uptrack into the rider he’s just tried to pass.  This usually has the effect of taking one or both of them down.  It may also have the effect of quickly pushing them both uptrack into the wheel of a rider behind.  It’s a mess no matter how you cut it.
  • Passing on the inside when you are anywhere near the bottom of the track is really a cardinal sin – you should always bias towards passing on the outside, unless there is a very significant amount of space for you to pass through.
  • Ride at or above the blue line when you are training or warming up.  The blue line (or “Stayers Line”) that encircles the midsection of the track doesn’t really have a formal function in most races.  But the convention is that when you are training, you should stay at or above the blue line unless you are making a hard effort – i.e., going pretty fast.  If you’re flying, you can be down in the sprinter’s lane (bottom of the track); if you’re cruising along anywhere below 40kph (25mph) or so, you should be at or above the blue line.
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