Sunday, April 20, 2014

Red bike, first bike

I think I've only had one red bike.

My first two-wheeler, which started out as a four-wheeler, was red. It was a Schwinn. I was just about to turn four years old. I remember discovering it under the Christmas tree and being very excited. Soon after that Christmas, my father moved out, separating from my mother. Ouch. But he came every weekend, and we took the bike out to Riverside Park across the street, and he gave me riding lessons. I insisted that we put the training wheels back on after every lesson, because I didn't think it was right for it to be a two-wheeler until I had mastered riding. I remember the lessons very clearly and fondly. We had a good time.

When my father was a kid, he wanted a Schwinn very badly. In his mind, there was nothing better than a Schwinn, and he was pretty much correct. I have no doubt that's why my first bike was a Schwinn.
The bike had 16" wheels and chrome fenders and a coaster brake. The tires were solid, i.e. not pneumatic. It seems odd that Schwinn would make a bike with non-pneumatic tires, but they did.
When I was six, my mother and sister and I moved to W 96 St, and my mother had the super reassemble my bike. He put the front fender on backwards so that it hung way out over the front of the wheel, but I didn't realize this until the playground kids pointed it out. I didn't really care.
I learned to make skid marks with the coaster brake. Fun.
Oh wait. I just remembered that before this bike, I had a tricycle, and it was also red. I also remember calling it my "bike," because I didn't want to call it a tricycle, even though it was a tricycle. That sounded too little-kid to me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Track Racing, part 1

I had a fantastic time on Sunday at the clinic. The folks at Pink Rhino Racing were so nice and helpful and fun. I learned a heck of a lot, and I enjoyed every minute of it, even sitting there, listening to the lectures. I remember being warned over the years about how bumpy the track is, and when we walked around it, I had only socks on my feet. Even then I didn't really see a problem, as it's much smoother than a typical city street is.

When I got on the track on my bike, though, then I understood. When you're bent way over on a track bike that's built to feel every facet of every inch of the surface and you're going as fast as you can, it is fair to say it's a very bumpy track. But I don't mind. It doesn't give me more of a disadvantage than it gives anyone else, and I'm fine at "planing" over the surface.

I've ridden a lot over my life, in many kinds of riding. I've raced a very tiny handful of time trials, but mostly I've ridden for fun and transportation. I'm a lot faster than the average person who gets on a bicycle, but I'm also a lot slower than people who normally race bikes. I am very slow. We had a couple of mock races, and I came in dead last both times. I wasn't even close to the guy in front of me. But I'll tell you something, which I already told you: I had a great time.

I've made a goal for myself, to enter several races over this season. I intend to come in last at every race. And I intend to learn and to have fun. These are achievable goals. If I do better than coming in last, all the better. I already know it's a fun thing to do, and it's something new for me. I met some nice and fun people, so what could be bad?

Brean stressed safety often during the instruction. It makes a lot of sense, and I intend to follow all of his advice, though it's interesting that I didn't have any fears for my safety coming into it, though Brean seemed to be trying to allay fears we might have. I don't know why some are afraid and I'm not, so it's interesting that there is that difference.

Bike Ahead in Brooklyn sponsors Pink Rhino Racing, and they sponsored this event. I was really impressed with how much cash they tossed in to this small event. That's a heck of a long term investment. I will try to patronize them, even though I don't live close by. At this point, I'd love to meet some of the folks who work there so I can thank them. The merchandise they provided as prizes was truly good stuff, not just stupid symbolic prizes, and I think it's really nice of them.

I rode back to Manhattan with a fellow named Scott. We rode pretty hard, though he'd probably laugh at that adjective. Time for me to work on my speed.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Track racing, part zero

Yesterday started my "career" as a bicycle track racer. I put my war paint on, massaged my own shoulders, and went over my bike, feeling for where the bike "hurt" as if it is a limb of my body. I made some adjustments and brought it to the local bike shop for more adjustments. My new mechanic is Martin at New York's Waterfront Bicycle Shop on West St, right near Christopher St.

I rode pretty hard in Central Park, and, as immensely crowded as it was, I was able to do what they call training as well as some very pleasant people watching. My top speed, according to my GPS device, was 27.7, which is pretty good considering I was fixed to a 73 inch gear.

Today, I attend the first clinic of the season at Kissena Velodrome, where kind volunteers will show us how it's done. No races today. I'm getting my stuff ready. I picked little bits of glass out of my tires to make sure they didn't work their ways further in. I'll ride to the 7 train, take it to the end, then ride to the track in Flushing.

My ride yesterday looked mostly like this. There are two or three points on the map where GPS appears drunk, but it's informative enough.

I barely slept last night. I'm excited.

Here I go.