One Track Mind

8 09 2010

There’s no wind. Rain is on the forecast but that’s not a problem either. The road ahead is polished, and if you continue riding in a straight line for 20 seconds or so you’ll end up back in the same place. Que? Ahhh Le Velodrome! An ovalised tracked with two banked corners that send you into a 180 degree about-face with gravity defying magic. Indeed riding it is so surreal and exciting it could easily be described as magical. Of the dozen intrepid Wanaka journeymen and women to venture onto Invercargill’s community asset only one had previous experience. None other than ex-National Sprint Champion John Andrews, our leading light and the man to follow, that was until he slipped off on his first turn on the ‘boards’; damn there goes my confidence, thanks John…

Jamie riding 6 ft off the ground

I cruise a lap around the infield getting used to the direct non-stop fixed gear. Stop adjust seat, try again. Repeat. Finally comfortable I slowly build my speed. Time to try riding the gently slopping blue boards; ah that’s not so bad. Next corner I’m going to go on the 30 degree banking… whoa that was weird… OK next corner let’s go a little faster and another line higher… yeah this is fun… what if I go full gas around here? Yeeaaahhh! G-Forces push you to the wall, there is even a strain on your neck as you seemingly look up-hill/around the corner. Damn, this is a blast! Next corner faster again, nothing but smooth wood and the faint rumble of the eiry hollow underneath, ecstasy. Down the back straight keep going, keep pushing. Ooooh hang on this is starting hurt, how fast am I going? How many laps have I done? Maybe I’ll just back off a fraction before that foyer coffee has had enough of my stomach.

Bruce Ross - he's seen a Dernie or two in his day

Kilometers of Latvian Hardwood handlaid by zee German's

For us track virgin’s we had the previledge of being hosted and coached by none other than Mr. Bruce Ross. Infamous in Southland and nation wide in cycling circles. Bruce has for the past 25 years been the driving force behind the Tour of Southland and the Cycling center. Without him most of our great junior and developing athletes would have had nowhere to stay when visiting and it seems unlikely that the very track we enjoyed on our excursion would have come to fruition. Bruce took us from nervous roadies to ‘Flying’ 250 meter TT riders and Team Sprinters; well beyond the progression I believed our motley crew would make. His encouragement and instruction had us all lapping around without drama and with lasting grins. Before too long our 2 hour booking had come to an end. It had been a great taste and tease, yet Bruce wanted us to have a more lasting impression. With typical Southland hospitably he took us behind the scenes into the belly below. Showing and describing the expertise, craftsmanship and expense went into this extraordinary structure. 

The very one and only - Zoopkeepers

OK what next? Lunch time, and when in Rome… Zookeepers, another for those in the know. Zookeepers Cafe has long been an advocate for cycling and through its long running sponsorship of racing teams it has helped many Kiwi riders step up to greatness, including Hayden Roulston, Jeremy Yates, Heath Blackgrove and Gordon McCauley to name a few. Winning countless Tours of Southland AND Wellington the memorabilia and photo gallery is entertainment in itself, let alone other art and sculpture that turns this local coffee haunt into an almost cartoon like must visit for anyone looking for a reason to escape a wintry day.

It had been an early start and a bit of a drive but that was quickly forgotten. This trip will certainly be a regular pilgrimage in the colder months for us up in Wanaka, next thing we’ll be transforming ourselves into sprinters instead of climbers…

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