I used to live in L.A., where I spent extraordinary amounts of time commuting in my car, and I grew increasingly resentful. I’d leave work with plenty of time to get home for a quick outdoor workout before dark only to hit a traffic jam and seethe as I watched the Southern California sun slowly set. I felt cheated; after all, commuting was eating into my time, not my employer’s. Doug Robinson of BGI Speedway Wheelman leads the way over Ben Weaver of NUVO/BAP and the rest of the competition in last year's NUVO/BAP Team Series race, downtown on Mass. Ave.Bicycle commuters don’t share this frustration. Patrick O’Donnell, a 27-year-old medical student in his third year at IU, says his favorite thing about commuting by bicycle is “killing two birds with one stone.” O’Donnell, who estimates he commutes 95 percent of the time from his home in Forest Hills to the Med Center downtown, is also a competitive cyclist who uses his commute to stay fit.
On average, Americans spend 75 minutes a day in their car, and approximately a quarter of all their trips are within 1 mile of their home, according to the League of American Bicyclists. They maintain that trips of less than 3 miles will be quicker on your bike than in your car, and trips of 5 to 7 miles in urban areas may take the same time or less.
Indiana’s Bike to Work Week is currently in progress (May 16-22), with a special emphasis on Friday, May 21, being Bike to Work Day.
O’Donnell, who adds only 10 minutes to his commute when he bikes, says, “Bite the bullet. Do it for two weeks and you’ll be hooked.” Need more impetus? O’Donnell has gone for six months at a time without buying a tank of gas. Tips for bicycle commuting are available from the Indiana Bicycle Coalition at www.bicycleindiana.org or the League of American Bicyclists at www.bikeleague.org.
Valhalla at the Velodrome For the first time this year, bicycle racers will break out their special track bikes — classic machines with no brakes and fixed gearing — to compete on the banked concrete sides of the Major Taylor Velodrome this Friday night, May 21, in “Valhalla at the Velodrome.” Benefiting the Heroes Foundation, “Valhalla” will donate $1 from each paid admission to the foundation, which serves the cancer community through support, education and funding for medical research. Racing starts at 7:30 p.m., and admission for children 6 and under is free. Kids 7-18 are $5 and adults are free. Pearson Ford will match every dollar of admission up to $100. The Major Taylor Velodrome is located at 3649 Cold Spring Road. NUVO/BAP Series You’ve probably seen them on your way home from work: bicycle racers, swathed in brightly-colored Lycra uniforms, vigorously pedaling like they’re being chased by wild dogs. Actually, they’re training, as the bicycle racing season in Central Indiana is in full swing. With hundreds of licensed racers in the area, promoters are catering to them with an unprecedented number of races this summer. And, following its successful debut last year, the NUVO/BAP Series adds 11 quality races to the calendar.
Not only are the NUVO/BAP races great for competitors, but they provide a unique opportunity for spectators to watch the best amateur and semi-professional cyclists in the region compete on small circuits where the action is fast-paced and easy to see. The series includes eight criteriums — races on a short, technical course — and three time trials, which are individual races against the clock. In particular, two time trials on the Major Taylor Velodrome will give spectators a unique opportunity to see racers sporting various aerodynamic accessories rocket around the oval for the best time. Other Indianapolis venues include Butler University, downtown Carmel and historic Brookside Park.
Although cycling is generally considered an individual sport, teamwork brings a different dynamic to racing. The NUVO/BAP Series rewards combined strength and collective tactics by pitting pre-registered teams of Professional and Category 1 and 2 riders against one another. Five teams are slated to participate in the NUVO/BAP Series, including last year’s champions, the NUVO/BAP Cycling Team — who donated their winnings to the Bicycle Action Project — and their closest rivals, the Texas Roadhouse Team from Louisville, Ky. Participating teams will designate a leader — marked by a red number — for each race in the series and then work together to help that leader win points.
The first place team in this year’s competition will walk away with $2,000 of the overall $5,000 purse and bragging rights of being the “baddest” in the Kentuckyiana region, no small honor in the world of bike racing. Even on the amateur level, the fitness required to hold your own in a massive pack going more than 30 miles per hour demands a dedication to long hours of intense training, and rewards are few and sweet.
Michelle Bazemore is a member of the Estridge/Delta Cycling Team and serves on the board of the Major Taylor Alliance, a non-profit that supports the Major Taylor Velodrome. Check out her comprehensive look at bicycling in next week’s Summer Fun Guide.