Track attack

In the past weeks I’ve been working on track racing. I’d never done any of it before, but I decided to give it a go both because our team will be doing track events this year, and also because the cadence style is more like BMX, which I enjoy. For those not in the know, the difference between track riding and road riding is fairly substantial. The bikes are similar to road bikes in shape, with slightly different geometry and one, fixed gear ratio.

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Our home track is Major Taylor Velodrome in Indianapolis, as seen above. As a rule, beginning riders have to go through three hours of track training that the velodrome is offering as “Track 101” classes. I did the classes in two Thursday night sessions. The first was mostly terminology and technology, with a little riding to get used to the track and the bikes. The second was all riding, practicing pacelines and moving around on the track.

After my classes, I am now legal to ride some of the track events. I decided to do a time trial saturday, figuring it would be good for experience, and a good baseline for training. I went with Mendoza and rode a bike he loaned me. It’s a custom made Landshark. It’s not carbon, aluminum or anything fancy, but it’s super light and fits me well. It’s also got a pretty sweet paint job – red with green metallic scaled dragons. His coach and team were there so we hung out with them. I think the first real life lesson I learned about track racing is that there is no shade at the velodrome, although I didn’t realize it until later. The Pista Elite/Glacial Energy team had a pop-up tent, but it really wasn’t big enough. I am quite red today.

For races, I tried to select a variety, since I didn’t know what I would like or be competent at. I went with the 200m, 1k, and 3k. At the end we decided to try a team sprint. My times all sucked, which is to be expected since this was my first real track outing, however, I am feeling better about the shorter events. At the same time, I prefer the held start of the longer events.. Go figure. I think it’s all mental. I feel a lot stronger taking off from a stop than I do trying to gauge my speed in a flying start. Trying to find a consistent steady state is going to be vital. In the Kilo, I felt like I had a good start, and a good first lap but after the first lap, I was dead tired. I never really thought about how hard it is to push a big gear for any distance. The 3k was much the same, except I paced myself a little better, going easier on the start. I think I liked the team sprint the best of all. I started, so I just had to go one lap with a held start. I screwed up a little because I wasn’t sure what to expect, but overall, I think I did ok, and liked the length.

Here are some video examples of what a 200m and Kilo time trials look like. Probably incredibly boring looking to most.

I’ll probably be back at the track on the 28th for training night, which will be my first time racing against other people. Should be interesting. In the mean time, I suppose it makes sense to start building. I’d been putting it off to try and get a good base, but since I more or less have to start weight training to get my speed up for the track, I’m going to try and add in intervals and other higher intensity stuff to my other rides.. which also means I need to ditch the diet and start eating a little more.

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Gettin’ my paper straight.

Lately I’ve been in a bit of a budget crunch. I’m basically on a fixed income, and incidental college expenses have caught up with me at about the same time that my roof started leaking, which is far from an ideal situation. I’ve been at the end of my means for a while, which means I can’t really pay anything down to increase my available cashflow. Since picking up a second job is pretty much not possible, I’ve set out to make some budget cuts that will free up cash on a monthly basis and allow me to pay down some debt. These are not new ideas, but sometimes I just forget that there are options. Maybe some of these could be helpful for others.

1. Cable bill – I actually haven’t had cable for a while, but I’m still a slave to Comcast for Internet service, which I really don’t think I could do without. I generally feel like the price is a rip off, but since they’re really the only show in town, I’m stuck. I did remember though that I’m eligible for promotional pricing. Comcast promo pricing generally lasts 6 months, but once your 6 months is up, you have to wait 3 months before getting the same package again. I think their hope is that in that 3 months, you will forget about it; and i did! This was good for about $20 off a month.

2. Cell phone – My iPhone bill is stupid expensive. A few months ago I added a higher level of text messages because I was going over, mostly from texting with just one person. I’m no longer texting that person nearly as much, so I thought I could grab back the $10 or $15 it was costing me. Sadly, AT&T changed my options. This is one of my biggest qualms with AT&T – I rarely look at my rate plan, but everytime I do, I find out that I’m in some now obsolete plan. Regardless, I downgraded from 1500 texts to 1000, (an option I never previously had) and got $5 a month back.

$5 wasn’t much of a savings since my bill is about $80 a month. While I’ve come to depend on the iPhone for mobile e-mail reading, I don’t use a lot of texts, and I rarely make phone calls. When a friend told me that Virgin Mobile has a $25/mo, unlimited data, unlimited text plan. The shortcoming is that it only has 300 talk minutes, but I actually use less than that. So pending a few questions, I think I’m dumping AT&T and the iPhone in favor of Virgin mobile and the Motorola Triumph. It looks like I will have almost all the functionality that I did with the iPhone for a fraction of the price.

3. Credit Card – I’ve been watching for a while for a credit card ad that had some 0% interest time and a low post-introductory APR. Sadly, they all seem to have crappy rates. my current cards are the best I’ve been seeing at 10.99%. However, I did get an offer for a Citibank “Diamond Preferred” card, which boasted 21 months interest free on balance transfers. You always have to check the numbers on these deals, because sometimes the cost of doing the transfer is more than what you would save in interest. In this case it was 3%, not terrible. Plus, this card has a high-ish limit, so I was able to transfer all of one credit and part of another to it. The savings was enough that I will have smaller payments, freeing up cash to pay down the existing cards, and there will be less interest in the long run.

Overall I haven’t freed up a _ton_ of money, but I’ve opened up enough to make a difference. Now if I can just keep from buying stuff!