…Continued from the previous post.
When last we visited, I was at the L.A. Velodrome to take in the USA Cycling Elite Track National Championships – specifically the Team Pursuit competition. Although I had struggled with the whole “pursuit” concept, I was enjoying the uniqueness of the event. This is not the cycling that the average Josephine on the street is familiar with.
For starters, the bicycles themselves are really just first cousins to the road bikes that are used in the Tour de France – or the Tour de Coffee Shops that we recreational riders take part in, for that matter. For one thing, there’s no brakes. While this could be problematic when out for a ride in the neighborhood, in the velodrome it’s pretty rare that some clown in a ’96 Toyota Celica blows a red light and cuts you off.
Scratch races, sprint races, pursuits, Madisons. Something called Omniums, which is cycling’s answer to track and field’s pentathlon…but with one extra event. Or heptathlon …but with one fewer…well, you get the point – they’re doing a lot of stuff on a bike on a track.
Hmmm…what to watch…what to watch? How about the Team Pursuit? Done and done. And it was off to the L.A. Velodrome.
I was living in Charlotte in 1996, when it was chosen to host one of four trials to determine the U.S. Cycling Team for the Atlanta Olympics. I was doing a lot of riding myself at the time and was familiar with a lot of the course, so I was able to take my bike and stake out some prime viewing spots. Others that I met had the same agenda, and we got to talking as we waited at various spots for the peloton to come through.