Stan’s Obligatory Blog


A ride to the velodrome

Filed under: — stan @ 4:28 pm

Since I can’t do the regular Sunday ride this weekend, Gene and I rode out to Encino to the velodrome today. We figured it would be a nice ride, and we could watch a bit of the racing there.

We started out heading west across Eagle Rock and Glendale. That was where I saw Tep Thai and Tip Top right next to each other. Coincidence, perhaps?

Continuing on through Burbank, we passed the Igloo Cafe with its Eskimo caricature on the front. Then we took Moorpark across the east end of the Valley, passing an apartment building with cube-shaped topiary trees in front.

When we got to the 405 freeway, there really wasn’t any good way to go, so we just took Ventura Blvd for a short stretch. This was the ‘gritty urban cycling’ portion of the ride.

When we got to the velodrome, there wasn’t much going on. We just sat and watched the riders warming up for a bit. Then they started the preliminary heats in the Keirin. This is apparently a new form of racing that they didn’t have back in the ’70s when I was a racer. It was a bit odd, but still fun to watch.

I was never much of a track racer. I did most of my track riding at Kissena Velodrome in New York, which was widely regarded as the worst velodrome in the United States. Imagine, if you will, 1/4 mile of typical New York City street rolled up into a banked oval. That was Kissena. It was rough, it had weeds growing through cracks in the pavement, and it had a big hump in the last turn where the track had settled after it was built. There was a sewer pipe running underground across the field, and the ground settled less over the pipe, so the track had a hump. But, being a road rider at heart, Kissena suited me just fine. The back stretch was oriented right into the setting sun for the Wednesday night races, so that was always where I made my move. I used to attack at a lap and a half to go. I managed to win a few races that way, because at first, nobody thought I could go all-out and last for 600 meters to the finish. I even have a picture of this. Those were fun times. When I first came to California in 1978, I raced a few times at Encino. It seemed weird, not having the bumps and hump, and the track was shorter. It felt like riding around the inside of a bathtub. But it was a lot of fun. And it was fun to see it again.

Leaving the velodrome, we looked for a drinking fountain so I could refill my water bottle. Apparently, all of the fountains by the baseball fields there were broken. So we left. We took the bike path across the Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area, where we finally found a working fountain. I refilled my bottle, and all was right with the world.

At the end of the park, we got on Burbank Blvd for a short stretch, before turning south on Van Nuys to get to Chandler. Chandler is a nice quiet street, and we took that all the way over to North Hollywood, where it ended. Then we went south a few more blocks to Riverside and headed back into Burbank. I snapped a picture of the Work Boot Warehouse babe, since we’d been seeing her on lots of billboards all across the Valley. We figured that she is part of a time-tested marketing strategy for businesses that have clientele primarily composed of young men.

It was just before we got to the Bette Davis Picnic Area that I noticed that my back tire was going flat. So we stopped there, and I changed it. I had Gene take the obligatory picture for the Flat Tire Gallery. This also marked my second appeance the gallery, and so far I’m the only one with two flats in it.

From there, we headed up into Glendale to Verdugo Blvd for the climb up Hospital Hill. Gene had an accident back in May, so he missed riding for a few weeks, and he was fading out a bit as we went up the hill. But when we got to the top, it was all downhill back to Pasadena, so we made it home just fine.

61 miles.

4 Responses to “A ride to the velodrome”

  1. Chuck Says:

    You missed me by thatmuch. When you were going down Chandler and crossed Fulton, you were about 1/2 mile from my house.

  2. Steve Ryan Says:

    The UCI lists Keirin champions back to 1980. I believe it existed in Japan long before that. I have been told that the Japanese rarely appear in the medal listings because the top riders don’t attend. In Japan the races are bet on like dog or horse races. Riders make more than the prestige of an Olympic medal is worth to them.

    By the way, Junior Track Nationals are going on now. Check my site for a flood of pictures and results.

  3. Stan Says:

    I’d heard the name, but 1980 was the last year that I did much racing, and I think I only rode track a few times that year. Besides, whenever a motorcycle appeared on the track at Kissena, that just meant for Al to grab the broomstick and chase them away.

    And I’ve been checking out the pictures on your site. Very nice.

  4. Carol Elaine Says:

    Once again, Stan, you graced my neighborhood with your presence. Back in my Disney days (I worked in the green and white Disney Channel building) I was a regular at Igloo Cafe – they’ve changed it quite a bit since then. And Igloo is less than two miles from my place.

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