Ahhh, that first time was so addicting.
For the most part my first experience riding on the track was like your first time doing crystal meth. So many feelings came rushing over me. The adrenaline. The high. The rush. The body shakes. The rotten teeth. Wait, scratch that last part.
(I do not know what that feels like, I promise Mom. But from watching enough Breaking Bad and reading all those road side billboards in Middle America, I feel like I know all about meth.) Much like the Wichita, Kansas, sign states: “Don’t try it even just once…” That is how they get you. “Just go once to see if you like it,” they told me.
Beware of Trackies. All it takes is once.
My first experience with track cycling came many years ago in the summer of 2012. I had just joined a women’s cycling team and was very excited to do all things involving a bicycle. Mountain bike? Sure, I don’t mind blood. Hill climb? Great — I haven’t wanted to die in years. Crit racing? Pain cave es mi casa. Time Trial? Perfect. Lots of time to plan my grocery list and balance my budget. Track? Er, WTF is that?
Peer pressure came from two teammates who saw my addictive personality and lack of being able to “just say no.” Multiple emails were exchanged and hours of Googling was done to try to figure out what the heck this track thing was. I learned from the World Wide Web that track cycling was more than just guys with giant legs, it was an intense sport involving massive power. Evidently once you became hooked you would change physically and mentally. Your language will change with talk of ratios, lines, and kilos. Your behavior will become fast twitch-like. Your non-track friends will find it hard to follow your conversation and even your behavior. This all was starting to sound very overwhelming and intimidating.
While I watched every YouTube video I could find, they organized the date, time, carpool location, and even bike that I would ride.
En-a-bler | noun: one that helps another to achieve an end; especially, one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior (as substance abuse) by providing excuses or by making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior.
Sidebar: Track bikes are unlike most other bikes because you don’t have brakes and have just one gear. (You can not ride a road bike on a velodrome because, I-don’t-know-why, you just can’t. Don’t even ask.)
With some cash in my pocket, I met a trackie teammate before the sun came up in a dodgy part of town for her to take me to a location that I knew nothing about, to do something I knew nothing about, and meet people I knew nothing about. I was so nervous and already regretting my decision to go all the way on the drive down to Colorado Springs.
What had I done? Would my road friends find out? If I try this once will it make me want more? How could I back out now?
By then it was too late. We were almost there. I was too scared to tell my teammate that maybe I was wrong, that I had been a D.A.R.E graduate, and that I learned "just because everyone else is doing it" doesn’t mean I should. I couldn't back out. Time to pay the man in the big office upstairs. It was time to take my first ride.