Sunday, January 25, 2009

Goldsprints Cincinnati

The fixies were chained high on the parking lot fence. As techno music thumped from the Goldsprints party upstairs, a thin Italian looking bartender in a Campy cap was quick on the draw with two cans of PBR. I grabbed an IPA and made my way through the bar, nearly tripping over a wasted girl who was lying on the stairs. A guy with a forehead tattoo politely made his way past the DJ setup. A big guy in a kilt with a handlebar moustache spun 140rpm on his Redline single speed on rollers to the “go go go” cheers of the crowd and the groans of the historic bar’s old floorboards. Normally, I’d be hard pressed to cross paths with even one of these fellows, a fixie or PBR in a can on a night out. I haven’t seen a man in a kilt since a visit to Scotland. This was the first night of Goldsprints at Grammer’s Tavern in downtown Cincinnati, put on by Team Hungry.  And a source close to the mustached man, said in fact he was a true Scot under that kilt.

Racing bikes at a bar? Count me in. It doesn’t take much. From what I can gather from the Goldsprints MySpace page, these bar room races seem to be popping up in cities across the country and seem to be part of the growing fixie culture. It was sort of a weird scene, a little punk, a little fight club, but very cool and not serious in the least.  It was like something that you’d run into in the basement of a college house party.  The room was a salad spinner of people: students, hipsters, punkers, young professionals, tattooed dudes, computer geeks.  No doubt, the ages spanned from 21 to 40 something.  Everyone had a common thread, bicycles…beer and music. 

When my name popped up in the “on deck” list, I rolled my right pant leg up below the knee, put on my cycling cap, handed the stuff in my pockets to a friend and took another swig of my beer.  “3-2-1 Go!”  The crowd shouted for the racers ahead of me.  From a dead stop they spun up the single speed Redlines till their legs blurred in the dim light.  13.4 seconds was the winner’s time.  Most races seemed to last anywhere between 12 and 19 seconds.  Top speeds touched higher than 40mph for some.  No doubt the RPM’s were north of 140.  At least one person clocked a sub 12.

 I swung a leg over and my dreadlocked teammate, John Wood, pulled the toe straps tight on my Tsubo leather loafers.  That's me pictured left-rider on the right.  (Click on the photos to see a larger better quality image) Bikes were single speed Redlines with the rear wheel on rollers and the fork clamped down.  I nabbed the red bike.  It seemed to be faster for some reason.  Although both bikes had identical set up, the previous racers on the blue bike were coming up short.  It could have been something as simple as chain tension.  The margin of victory in these races was in the 10ths of seconds.  One race came down to one one-hundredth of a second.  I took two warm up bursts and me and my adversary gave the guy behind the computer the ready thumbs up. 

The display on the big screen counted down.  “3-2-1-Go!”  The crowd erupted.  The gear spun up so quickly, the resistance was gone instantly.  Wildly spinning, it was like running out of gears on a downhill only you had to keep pedaling.  It was all about pedal speed.  The key was to anticipate the clock, spin up as quickly as possible and hold the rpm’s until the line on the big computer screen reached the finish.  It was all over in 12.71 seconds (my winning time pictured left).  I won my first race.

Racers raced three times during the night.  I was feeling a little buzzed when I hopped on for the last time.  The first race determined who you’d race against next in order to keep the side by side action as competitive as possible.  At the end of the night the computer guys averaged your three times together to determine the overall finishing order.  I lost my 2nd race (blue bike) and won the third.  I came out 5th in the night, out of about thirty.  Results are posted here.

It’s Monday now, nearly three days later.  I’m still sore.  Yeah, one minute total of physical activity on Friday night put the hurt on me.  The hamstrings nearest the backs of my knees are still torked from uncorking more rpm’s than an electric toothbrush.  I got a little hitch in my lower back.  I can’t imagine how some of the others feel.  I’m in pretty good shape and have been pretty diligent about working in base training the last four weeks.  Was it worth it?  Hell yeah.  Goldsprints brought Cincinnati’s fixie crowd, racers, club riders and commuters a little bit closer.  That’s always good.


Chris said...

Sounds awesome. Probably good that the forks were bolted down considering the beverages. I wonder if we have something like this in Louisville. The only roller races I know of are currently all spandex-clad racers.

brighton velo said...

NIce post!