Wednesday, December 10, 2008

smoking tires, severed spokes and shattered drums

Last night I attended an honest to goodness mechanical roller race in midtown Manhattan. It was a benefit for the CRCA Juniors, titled Onward Christian Rollers

The silly name was because Christian Vande Velde was going to be in attendance (I thought he would be racing, but he just stood around drinking and looking pretty in a vest)

The part that interested me the most about this event was the vintage mechanical roller setup, provided by Bikeworks NYC:

I'm actually not sure if it's fully mechanical, or if the drive cables are sending electric pulses to the display motors, but either way, its rad. The roller drums are super smooth and the bearings spin forever (which is why I'm guessing that it's electromechanical). Here's a shot of the back of the display:

On the middle cylinder of each roller is a sprocket wheel and gear box. By way of a flexible transmission cable, the roller gear box is connected to a similar gear box behind the dial face. This gear box drives it's corresponding arrow on the dial face, by way of a roller belt drive system. The unit is human-powered, mechanically driven, and totally wireless.

I wasn't racing mainly because I don't have enough sprockets/cogs to meet the 90 gear inch max limit, that I knew everyone else would be running. 44/14 would have been close, but 56/16 wouldn't be allowed. Yes, my two big front sprockets are 44 and 56 teeth. I did sort of want to do it with fenders and riser bars though. (not that it matters, but I'm pretty sure the guy on the Pista Concept was running 51/14, which was over the limit.)

Oh well, I paid the cover charge ($20 ouch! NYC isn't cheap) and tried to make the most of the 7-8pm open bar. I helped out my friend Alex by spotting him throughout the night, and watched a lot of gnarly roller crashes.

During warm ups, one guy actually shattered one of the roller drums. He had wound them up to max speed, then tried to stop abruptly. The roller's momentum shot him backwards into the display, and when his front wheel hit the forward rear roller, it exploded. It was amazing though kind of a bummer, because I KNOW Bikeworks won't be able to replace that drum.

Throughout the night there was a lot of sketchy roller crashes. In fact, it was painful to watch some people try and stay on, but that's the beauty of spectating at an event like this. Everyone is an expert. Check out the video footage Alan shot (At 2:15 you can see the roadie in the red/white jersey SMOKING his tire on the platform):

"This is NYC Bike Racing"

After the finals, and the subsequent beer sprints, I had a great drunken ride home through midtown traffic =]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

man...i want to do this so, so badly!

i also want a cervelo pc3 track rebranded as a fuji, too...