Monday, October 17, 2011

Fast and Furious

Track cycling is, in many way, cycling stripped down to its skeletal essence. Riders navigate an indoor track, insulated from the elements. Their bikes have one gear and cannot coast. Every competitor's bike is nearly identical, a carbon monocoque with a disc rear wheel and five-spoke front. I don't know, but I would bet that each of those cycles is within a shockingly small number of grams of all of its rivals. They cut through still air on dry wood, every lap the same. Races are won by what is in a racer's legs, lungs, mind, and heart. In a keirin race, the riders follow a motorized derney1 for a few laps, so that the race doesn't have a contested start,

I had seem the aftermath of this race, wherein Aziz Awang's leg was skewered by a 10-inch splinter, but I hadn't seen the race itself. Chris Hoy got boxed in right before he was going to make a move, and ended up in fifth after the derney dropped off the front of the race. Instead of contesting for position, Hoy dropped back to give himself room to accelerate, and then fucking exploded. He passed everyone, and then the rest of the race shattered. Hoy didn't cause the crash, bad riding did, but it's as perfect a visual demonstration for his dominance as anything. Six men were in the race, but Hoy had it won before it started.

1: Derney driver is one of those jobs I don't know how you get but I would love to have. Run a few motor-aided laps, pull off and let the hard men fight it out. There are far worse ways to spend your time.

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