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Following is intended for first timers interested in riding velodrome/fixed gear:

Last weekend I got the chance to check out the Hellyer velodrome (http://www.ridethetrack.com/) in south San Jose, CA on one of their beginner Saturday sessions. This would be my first time on a fixed gear track bike (wheels turn = cranks turn, no brakes no freewheel) and first time riding a velodrome. I was hoping to settle into it, but the focus on these Saturday sessions is to prepare people for racing (there is a requirement to do a certain number of Saturday newbie sessions prior to participating in racing, with the notion that most practice/strength training is done on one's own time on the road). Access to the park was $5, velodrome usage was $5, and bike rental was $5 (required - cannot use standard road bike, all rentals seemed in good condition - mine was a slightly used Specialized Langster).

Overall it was a very cool experience that I think anyone who enjoys riding a bicycle would like, although the session felt a bit like a track meet. After the initial 40 lap warm up (which progressed from quick to holy-crap fast), the rest of the time consisted of team sprints, some match sprints, etc. with a lot of downtime in between while everyone else got a chance to ride. Basically I got blown out of the water on the sprints, but had a good time riding the concrete banked turns and trying to remember not to back pedal. To put it in perspective, I'm a new road rider and have been focusing on centuries (did AMBRR and Tour de Nez in June), so I felt a little out of my element. The vibe was cool but competitive, and while I wasn't exactly bitten by the fixed-gear bug, I'm glad I checked it out.

*Bring pedals & pedal wrench/allen wrenches
*Bring sunblock & snacks. The more stylin riders had lazy chairs for relaxing in between sprints. Water and bathrooms are available at the park, and the session lasted from 0800 to about 1200.
 

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Ya, what ATP said...!
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Thanks for posting this. I heard some go-faster types talking about these sessions at the coffee shop last Sunday and I was half way thinking about going down there some weekend. I used to race Hellyer back in the 80s and it would be good to get those reflexes back. Things unfold so much faster on the track than they do on the road.
 

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I was at the track this past weekend as well.

Were you the guy in town for a wedding? I think we may have chatted on one of the laps after a race.

As a former road racer, this jolted me back into those high intensity efforts I used to train for. I haven't done them in about a year though, and that became quite evident after a few laps. To label this a 'beginner session' they mean beginner racer, not beginner rider. That's often a distinction they fail to make when advertising this type of thing.

All in all it was a fun experience, but I would do some training before I decided to go back.

Silas
 

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No team-cest unless 8+!
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tuckerbretton said:
Following is intended for first timers interested in riding velodrome/fixed gear:

Last weekend I got the chance to check out the Hellyer velodrome (http://www.ridethetrack.com/) in south San Jose, CA on one of their beginner Saturday sessions. This would be my first time on a fixed gear track bike (wheels turn = cranks turn, no brakes no freewheel) and first time riding a velodrome. I was hoping to settle into it, but the focus on these Saturday sessions is to prepare people for racing (there is a requirement to do a certain number of Saturday newbie sessions prior to participating in racing, with the notion that most practice/strength training is done on one's own time on the road). Access to the park was $5, velodrome usage was $5, and bike rental was $5 (required - cannot use standard road bike, all rentals seemed in good condition - mine was a slightly used Specialized Langster).

Overall it was a very cool experience that I think anyone who enjoys riding a bicycle would like, although the session felt a bit like a track meet. After the initial 40 lap warm up (which progressed from quick to holy-crap fast), the rest of the time consisted of team sprints, some match sprints, etc. with a lot of downtime in between while everyone else got a chance to ride. Basically I got blown out of the water on the sprints, but had a good time riding the concrete banked turns and trying to remember not to back pedal. To put it in perspective, I'm a new road rider and have been focusing on centuries (did AMBRR and Tour de Nez in June), so I felt a little out of my element. The vibe was cool but competitive, and while I wasn't exactly bitten by the fixed-gear bug, I'm glad I checked it out.

*Bring pedals & pedal wrench/allen wrenches
*Bring sunblock & snacks. The more stylin riders had lazy chairs for relaxing in between sprints. Water and bathrooms are available at the park, and the session lasted from 0800 to about 1200.

Yeah. What the other guys said. Thanks for posting this!

I'm on vacation at my parent's place for the next week and a half. I need a way to ride (I brought my mountain bike with me becuase I went to Tahoe for a few days, but no road bike...).

I'm planning to go on the 8th. I'll be the one a Carnegie Mellon University kit. Say hi if you want. lol.
 
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