Track to Track
It is the month of May in
34,999 other athletes attended my “need for speed” as we lined up for the OneAmerica Mini-Marathon. Three Nebo Ridge riders, as far as I know, participated in the Mini
Jim Marcero, Chris Hancock and myself. Looking around at all the athletes was inspiring to know I was a part of something so large. Now it was time to run. After Courtney and I trained with the Running Company in Broad Ripple, it all came down to this moment. The wheelchair athletes were on their way and three minutes later, Courtney and I started.
The miles started ticking off as I checked my time
s, holding a pace , 170 heart rate and feeling good. My new strategy this year was to hit most if not all the water/Gatorade stops. Seems to be working, time for a Clif shot Mocha Mocha with caffeine, just before entering the track.
When you see the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on television it seems, well, rather small. Now run on it! All of a sudden, this track is very
large! To most runners and trainers the track is known as “ much easier.
On the way back to downtown I start to notice my left foot feels hot. Well it is too late to stop
now; this race will not break me. The last mile of the Mini, if you can hold your head up long enough, you can see the finish. It is inspiring and deceptive to know you are in the home stretch. There is the ¾ mile to go marker, come on I can make it. There is the ½ mile to go marker, man will this race ever end. Thirteen-mile marker, ok only 0.1 mile to go, I can do this. Have you ever notice how long 0.1 of a mile can be? Forever seems like an appropriate amount of time. So I finish the Mini in one hour and forty-five minutes. Not as fast as I would have liked to run but I am done running until next January when Mini training starts again. Jim Marcero, our superhuman runner, finished at one hour and twenty-six minutes and congratulations to Chris Hancock coming in at one hour and fifty-six minutes.
Now, what about that other track in
The morning after the Mini I was sitting in a small classroom listening to, I kid you not, a guy
who reminds me of Bill Murray. His name is Ken Nowakowski. He has a great memory because he remembered that I rode the velodrome once last year. After some instruction and minor track bike assembly, the class and I headed to out to take a few laps.
Looking at the velodrome from
Velodrome racing is not your typical criterium or road race. You have all the same stuff; a bike, helmet, cycling shoes and uniforms but the similarity stops there. The bike for example has one gear and chain ring, no brakes or shift levers and you cannot coast. To slow this beast you must “back pedal” which is a nice way of saying, “try to pedal backwards while moving forward at 25 mph without throwing yourself over the handlebars”. Good luck with that one.
Ken directs us through six balance exercises on the bike. First, ride while hanging off the right side of saddle for one lap then the left side. Then ride a lap alternating hanging off the right and left sides. Next stand and ride while holding
your rear about an inch off the saddle without moving up and down and ride a lap in the saddle with only your fingertips touching the drops on the bar. Finally stand an inch off the saddle and ride with your fingertips on the drops. We take to the track with our new skills.
Riding the front stretch is not bad at all. The turns are unnerving! Are these 700 by 23 tires big enough to hold the track? Will I slide down the banking like a kid sledding down hill after the first snow? The Laws of Nature and Ken held true! I did not slide off the track. After a few laps, it became comfortable. This could actually be fun!
Back to the classroom for lunch and lecture. Ken instructed us on everything from gearing to how early to arrive on race day. Lunch is over and back out to the track for bumping practice.
What can I say about bumping practice? It is exactly what the name implies. We paired up and rode the apron slowly.
Then we leaned on each other, pushed off and continued riding. That was cool! To think you can actually lean on someone so hard and not crash. Then it happened. I hear Ken coming up from behind me. “Fouts, lean into me!” great called out by the boss. I lean on him, easy at first. “Push on me!” ok I think. So I lean on him hard. Amazing, we both stayed up. There must really be something to this.
We went back out on the track to warm-up while Ken
got the motor. The motor is a motorcycle, mid 80’s vintage, I think. Everyone falls into a pace line behind the motor. An easy twenty miles per hour pace then twenty-two. As with most pace lines it starts out ragged then begins to take shape. The speed increases again and a few riders pull out. We continue to rotate through the pace line as the speed increases. Only four of us left in the line now. How much longer will Ken continue this pain? Just then, Ken’s left hand comes out holding up two fingers, “Two to go”. Yes, only two more laps but the speed is increasing. One more lap, done and we cross the start/finish line. Ken pulls ahead of us and we pull up above the blue line. What a day!