Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thursday Anticipation

The FGBC World HQ has been a busy place as of late. Judging by all the hallway chatter, the 2009 season promises to be a good one. The most recent bit of exciting news comes by way of our friend Gianni.

There are still some t's to cross and i's to dot, such as where, when, how many, etc. Relax. More information will follow. But it's not too early to start looking forward to what promises to be a thrilling series races.

This particular version of grass track racing is perhaps best described as a cross between cyclocross and velodrome racing. The oval is small and the track is flat. Which means you have to lean hard into the corners, as in a cross race. You can also expect have some "traffic” to deal with, which may require the odd bump from time to time. There are no barriers, though, unless one of those bumps results in a crash and you have to jump over someone. Because of the combination of tight corners and a flat track, a fixie is probably not an ideal bike. A cross bike would be better. You could even use a mountain bike, so long as it has no bar ends. Bar ends and bumping are not a good mix.

Track racing is a culture in its own right. There are almost as many types of races as there are kinds of Belgian beer. Since many of us are unfamiliar with it, Gianni will offer some assistance over the cold winter months to help acclimate us. Let's begin with an easy one, shall we?

Scratch Race - A scratch race is a cycling race in which all contestants start from scratch (on equal terms). If one or more riders gains an entire lap on the peloton and keeps this to the finish, this advantage places them ahead of the other riders with fewer laps completed.

So, basically, the gun is fired and everyone starts at the same time (either being held up by their coach on the start line or from the outside railing) and the first rider to complete the full distance wins. It’s not uncommon in longer races for a small breakaway to take a lap (or laps) on the main field.

On the track, scratch races can be over various distances e.g.

Commonwealth Games - 20 km
British Championships - 15 km
UCI Track World Championships - Elite man - 15 km

Look at them all lined up so nicely at the start. Like a bunch of giddy greyhounds. You can almost feel the excitement.


Campy Only said...

This sounds like its going be a PILE of fun!!! Great work guys.. looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...

My first introduction to bike racing was grass track. In the english countryside all villages where i grew up had an annual show or Fair. It included prizes for livestock, crop quality, flowers, vegetables, and included horse jumping, fell racing and grass track racing.

All the events were professional, and in the case of grass track it was handicap racing. There were several distances, from one lap to ten laps of a 440 yard track. You had to earn your handicap after three races at three different locations [just in case you were a ringer]. I remember my first race. Without a handicap i had to start at the back
with the seasoned pros and lost half a lap in the first circuit. After three such efforts I earned a handicap and if the handicapper was good all the participants in the final would cross the finish line within a second of each other. The bikes were all fixed wheel with bamboo tubular rims. I bought mine from a local farmer for $6.

This was in the 1950's when everyone rode bikes as cars were only owned by the rich. Makes me feel old but it was incredibly exciting to watch the scratch rider closing in on the lesser lights on the final corner, or to be one of those lesser lights sprinting your skinny little legs off to try and get to the line before being passed.

g said...

That is an awsome story Andy.

I have never seen it, but now I am very excited about grass track racing.

the secretary said...

Deluxe story. We could us a little more content from you Andy.

I'll race if I can get a bike with bamboo tubulars for $6... I'd even pay 6pounds. Fixed is a given.