Most people don’t realize it but the one thing that goes unparalleled in the messenger community is hospitality. Seems like we were the only two not at a great messenger event this past weekend but everyone around us made up for it with some of the same great qualities.
Firstly, family really came through big. Thanks to big sis for putting us up late Friday night and feeding us the next morning. Thanks to Al’s dad, Paul and his fiance Jackie for being very welcoming and providing cheering support. But also a big thanks to the many racers and organizers at National Sports Center Velodrome in Blaine, MN.
photo from MNkiteman
I’ve never been to a sanctioned bike race where anyone offers a place to stay, let alone 4 people asking us if we were good for the night. One explanation was a small track has a small infield which brings about comraderie. It was evident dude was right because civility was certainly on display both nights Al and I went up for the Peace Coffee Two Day Grind.
How small of an infield? Whatever you can squeeze within the walls of a 250 meter outdoor track. It was built with a very shnazzy wooden surface. It’s super tall and banked on the straightaways at 17 degrees. Northbrook has that banking on its curves. The banking on the turns here are 43 degrees. Unbelievably steep. If you don’t maintain a minimum of 10-12 mph then your chances of sliding down the track from lack of traction are strong to inevitable. I felt my outside foot hitting the track many times riding high on the bank. Kinda freaky anytime you ride let alone when your pedals are lined up with the head of the guy down track. I walked into the infield for the first time and all I could do was shake looking up at the rails.
It’s certainly not without reason. Steep banking brings about fast and intense racing. Mix that with an awesome race list and you have a 2 day Madison event that will change your perspective on track racing.
The race list was this:
60 lap points race (one rider from each team does 30 laps and then exchanges.)
Madison Kilo (I couldn’t even begin to tell you how awesome this is.)
Madison Miss-N-Out (Whomever is pulled is pulled for the team. Full on exchanges through the race. Insane.)
Chariot (Get going hard and fast into those turns!)
SuperSprint (Miss-N-Out eliminates half the field before 15 lap scratch.)
80 lap Madison (Super bonus points for gaining a lap. Keep it full throttle all race long.)
There was no downtime. Once a race was done we rolled right into the next one. Highlights include:
-Busting a spoke from someone overlapping their pedals to my wheel. I stayed up but he went down. Dude was totally fine. A collision is just what a flatland boy wants 5 laps into his very first race on a crazy steep velodrome. Luckily Marcus at Yojimbo’s loaned us some backups and reminded us to take them. (A race director brought me some wheels for the next day’s races if I had trouble repairing my spoke…see previous statement about nicest people ever)
-Al getting a solid breakaway to happen in the points race (surprise), gaining a half lap with only 10 laps left and then taking the final points sprint.
-I got 2nd in a chariot by 1 inch over 3rd and 1 inch behind 1st. First place was the “King of the Sprints” up there, apparently the rightful owner of a sub-11 flying 200 time.
-Al played an attack and counterattack beautifully in the SuperSprint to hang in for big points.
-They played the Blues Brothers anthem for us both nights of doing the Kilo.
-Staying on lap with a dangerous 4 team break in the final night’s Madison despite being half a lap down from them with 30 laps left.
-We ended up in 4th place out of 9 teams and took home some decent swag and enough prize money to cover the trip. Thanks to Banjo Brothers Bags for the Sunday bag and, of course, big props to Peace Coffee.
-NOT wiping out and garnering millions of little splinters.
This will be a strong priority for next year. We’re damn well tempted to take the bus up for the sake of spectators. It will surely be worth it either way. Final selling point has to be the parade lap in which we do the track cycling equivalent of the Virginia Reel. The Virginia Reel for chrissakes! Thanks to Al I now know that.
One last thanks to the fam and all NSC people as well as Marcus, Jamie, Candles and 4 star (you all know why). Here’s to hopefully making it out next year!-Jeff