Friday, July 25, 2008

A Night at the Races

Friday, July 25
FSA Grand Prix at Marymoor Velodrome

All the photos I have from watching track racing last night are somewhat blurred, due mostly to the fact that the "sports action" setting on my camera is set for soccer or running and has no idea how fast a cyclist goes around a track. These guys and gals are fast!

The first few races of the evening were the Keirin, a motor-paced race with a motorcycle setting the pace. Before the last lap, the motorcycle exits and it's an all-out sprint to the finish. The riders are racing at 30-32 mph with one gear, no brakes and no coasting. Next 
up was the Miss 'n Out where the last rider over the line on each lap is eliminated until there are some number of riders left and they all sprint for the finish line. I missed some of tha
t race while I was out stretching my legs and talking with people I hadn't seen in a while. Greg and I had ridden out to Redmond and had arranged for a ride back in the car with Allison and Don, whom we hadn't yet seen that evening. Sure enough, we spotted them near the beer garden and we were saved from riding home in the dark or begging a ride from someone else.

Next up was the Madison race, named for the races that took place at Madison Square Garden in New York. The race consists of teams of 2 riders each but only one of them races at a time. The resting rider slowly make his way around the track, hovering above his teammate. When the racing teammate needs a rest, the resting rider swoops down and clasps hands with the racer and is thrown into the race (quite literally) by the Madison sling, a transfer of momentum from racing rider to resting rider. All the other racers on the track at that moment have to pass above them, making for more of a challenge but also raising the possibility of a crash.
There was a team named "Gentle Lovers" and were in pink and red. The announcer seemed to like to say the name as much as the crowd liked to hear it. We all couldn't help but wonder what kind of business would be called Gentle Lovers: a Love Pantry without any S&M props?

One thing I noticed about the Madison race was that it was like a soap opera. You could turn away for a while to chat with your friends and get a bite to eat and when you returned, there they still were making exchanges and flying around the track. That is not to say it was boring because there was plenty of action (damn fast), drama (avoidance of crashes) and pumping up of the crowd (fast guy is passed by really fast guy). I was happy to see the entire track oval was lined with fans; the word is getting out about how much fun it is to watch races at the velodrome

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