I remember when the Superdrome was built, thirteen years ago. There were some interesting news articles about it.
The thing was up in Frisco, which, back then, was some small town way up north of the city. It didn’t take long for the Metroplex, which has been vomiting new developments out north across the cotton fields for decades, to swallow Frisco and now it’s another tony suburb between Plano and McKinney.
There was a time that I was a good bike rider. A very good bike rider. That was a long, long time ago. I never did learn to/get to ride on a track. Some friends of mine in college did, though I have no idea where the velodrome was, now that I think about it. I remember when one of them had his track bike go out of control on the steep slopes of Mount Oread – no brakes, no freewheel – and he had to steer across a lawn and into a hedge to stop.
I was old and fat before the Superdrome was built, though I still wanted to go out and see it. A friend from work rides there and he used to always bug me to take Lee up to the track and let him try it out. I was worried about letting Lee see the track. I knew he would love it and we couldn’t afford another expensive sport.
That’s not really true. I wanted to let Lee give it a shot, but there wasn’t enough time.
Now, after all these years, now that it’s far too late, I was able to drive out there after work and watch some races.
I wanted to take some pictures, but my good camera is still broken and I don’t have the money to get it fixed. I had to settle for a few quick snaps. It didn’t take long for the sun to set and the bikes to get faster and all that I had were blurs on the track.
The most startling thing about a velodrome, the first time you see one, is how steep the banked curves are. It looks suicidal to go up there on a bicycle. In the races, though, you see how the riders use the bank to control their speed, to slow for a second without losing momentum – they pick their speed back up when then roll back down the slope.
There are several division of riders: juniors, masters, Categories 1-4, women… they even took a break to let a toddler pedal around on a bike with training wheels (the announcer said, “250 meters is a long way to go when your legs are that short – this is a track, no coasting!”) – and they were all fun to watch.
There were enough races to get a feel for how it goes, for the different types of race, and for the different classes of rider. I was the only true spectator there – everybody else was either riding or there to watch a family member.
I enjoyed going out there and will go back. I have no idea why it took me so long to get out there, even though it is a long, gas-guzzling drive from my house during a Friday rush hour. It was fun to watch, but I would give anything to be able to ride on those slopes, and it’s never going to happen now.
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