138 meters

Imagine riding your bike around the inside of a barrel.

That about sums up my introduction to the Forest City Velodrome this afternoon. 138 meters long, with 17 degree straight aways and 50 degree turns. You enter the turn, drop your shoulder, and without trying, pick up speed thanks to the trusty ol' conservation of angular momentum. What's more, you're forced down into the saddle, and feel like you're going much, much faster than you really are. Sprint laps take about 9 to 10 seconds. It literally verges on dizzying. On the upside, being that the turn radius is so short, you can go pretty much as slowly as you like at the bottom of the track, and you won't slide off. Not the case higher up, though. I tried pushing my luck (not a good idea, given my record this season) and found that between the blue line and the rail, you'll start to slide somewhere around 23 km/h. I recovered from the slide though, and now I know.

Time for some pictures!
They built the track in an old ice arena. The original plans called for it to be 142 meters in length, but the realized that wouldn't fit, and had to make a last minute change to 138. They say it's the shortest velodrome in the world.

The view looking down the home straight.

The entrance and exits of the turns create a strange optical illusion. When you're riding, it looks like the track is slightly bowed up near the blue line, and curves down as you go towards the floor and rail. Rob assures me it is just an illusion, but I have my doubts.

The masters riders here are pretty awesome. Take our masters riders, and then imagine the guys that were masters riders when they were born. Those who are still alive and nimble enough to get on a bike are up here in London. There's only about five of them left, but with that many track riders in their 80's, it's pretty impressive. One is 89, and doesn't show any sign of quiting. How many 90 year-olds are riding anywhere else, let alone on 50 degree banking?

This is my partner for the 6-Day, Garnett Abbey. He's pretty awesome, and I was tipped off to that fact when we were introduced, and first thing he says is "Ha! Our money is worth more than yours! By 2 cents! This hasn't happened since, like, 1976. You probably weren't even born then!" Needless to say, I like Garnett, and like icing on the cake, he's fast too.

The Forest City Velodrome even has bunks for the A-riders, just like the European 6-Days. This is where Garnett and I will be living throughout the race. Being the first ones there today, we got first pick, and chose the one with the best view of the finish line.

Me and track director (and my host) Rob Good. We may look like zombies, but I assure you, we are both very much alive.

Racing starts this Friday. So far, my legs have felt good on this trip, so hopefully that will prove to be the case in the races. I'll keep you posted on what happens.