ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the dick lane velodrome. as you can probably tell, it's not quite as new and fancy as london's new olympic track, but it has its charm. a little creek runs through it, and the tree in the in-field is a nice touch. it was built in the mid 70s, and has seen a good bit of action over the years. it's concrete, banked at 36 degrees in the turns, a 1/5 of a mile in length and has a bit of a dip between turns 3 and 4 (more charm). why am i doing a post on it, you might ask. well, i'll let you know after the jump.cycling has a dirty side. and sometimes it frustrates the shit (excuse me i'm french) out of me. the start of the giro is upon us, a time of the year when that dirty side is often exposed in media releases timed to take advantage of all the eyes looking the giro's way. so i figured why not preemptively counteract the negative with a little bit of positive. you see, one of the things i love about the dlv (dick lane velodrome) is its bicycle little league program.
twice a week, kids of all ages can come down, learn to ride on the track, and ride with/race each other. one of those sessions happens to be right before the training class i've started to attend regularly. watching those kids ride around the track with smiles the width of their faces can make a thousand doping positives fade from my mind. the parents cheering on their children reminds me of the simple joys of being a fan of cycling. you don't need superhuman speeds, mind-boggling recovery, and fine tuned team tactics to be entertained. some bikes, a little enthusiasm, and a healthy dose of joy does the trick.
i took some pics before getting kitted up monday. hopefully it will have a similar positive effect on you as it has on me. the picture at the top of the post is the class divided into two groups for a little team pursuit. the ages/abilities of the various riders (both girls and boys) vary widly, but the goal is to stay together, so the stronger riders pull more, doing their best to maintain a pace they can all follow, and encourage the others to do their best (good lessons that apply to life in general).
second wheel there is a girl (13 years old, i think) that usually sticks around for the "adult" training class. you will hear about her in the years to come if she sticks with the sport. a couple weeks ago she was schooling dudes on carbon bikes with disc wheels and srm's doing flying 200s (i may be exaggerating a little when using the term schooling, and they weren't going all out in a race gear, but it was impressive none-the-less).
speaking of impressive, knowing what it's like to ride the turns one can't help but be impressed watching 8 year olds do the same.
36 degree is steep.
anyways, that's the magic of watching cycling's future at play. i'll leave you with a little video of the end of that team pursuit exercise. hope you enjoyed the post, and next time you get pissed over some of the negative in the sport, think of the children. this is a beautiful sport that brings joy to many around the world. no amount of negative in the professional ranks can ever take that away.