Monday, April 6, 2009

Long Beach Goldsprint

Long Beach Bicycle Festival, Goldsprints

This Saturday, I got my first taste of Goldsprint racing at the after party of the Long Beach Grand Prix criterium race, part of the multi-day Long Beach Bicycle Festival. I'll go more into the whole day's events, and the real (USAC Sanctioned) races later, but for now, it's the racing on rollers in a bar that is most vivid in my head. For those unfamiliar with the concept, Goldsprints are a race between two riders on bikes attached to rollers hooked up for distance feedback. It's existed in some form for almost as long as there has been bicycle racing, but the modern day revival of the practice grew out of messenger culture. It's generally setup as a tournament of 1 on 1 races of 500 meters, all out fast as you can. Since the rollers have low resistance, it's all about smooth fast cadence more than raw power. Racers start and stop when the MC tells them to, and during the race they have no gauge of how they are comparing apart from audience reaction, since the screen showing progress is displayed behind the riders.

Meghan and I both gave it a shot, although I hadn't really anticipated doing this after having just eaten a huge dinner to prepare for a criterium race the next morning. I was a little concerned about the having just eaten tons, but how could I resist. In my match up I spun like crazy, apparently in the lead for the first 3/4, but then my opponent closed the gap and we actually proceeded at exactly the same rate to the finish, for an exact tie according to the computer. The crowd was going pretty nuts over the course of the match, but it all became one blur as I focused on nothing but spinning. So we went for a round two tie breaker, but the combination of insane intensity and food did not sit well with my body and I lost the second round. During the next 15 minutes or so I was more worried I was about to lose my food, teetering at the cusp of throwing up. It was a pretty rad experience though, very worth the sick feeling and yet again staying out late before a race day for me.

Big props to the new shop Long Beach Fixed Gear for organizing the pain.

Me Racing Goldsprints
[Me looking all serious and spinning fast and stuff]

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