The fast track
September 18, 2009
For Park City track cyclist Chris Best, the faster he goes, the more pain he feels. But the faster he goes, the closer he is to the finish line.
"It’s a two-side coin," Best said. "It’s an absolute rush because you’re going so fast. The flip side is it’s very painful."
Track racing is like sprint cycling, he said. It’s the equivalent of what track and field is to a marathon. The bikes used for racing are single speed with no brakes. Races are done in a velodrome, a steep oval track banked at an angle.
"From a standing start, you accelerate as hard as you can," he said. "You typically hit top speed in 15-20 seconds and then you just hang on. the end, you are in an absolute world of pain."
There are many different competitions in track cycling, but Best mainly competes in the time trials.
"My specialty is the one-kilometer time trial," he said. "Just me against the clock. The guy with the fastest time wins. It’s not the most exciting event on the track, but it’s one I can train for in Utah."
Recommended Stories For You
Although track cycling is an Olympic sport, it’s not very popular in Utah, he said. However, a velodrome is being constructed in Ogden.
"One hundred years ago, it was the biggest spectator sport in America for racing," he said. "It waned in popularity with the automobile."
It became popular for Best when he took a job in high school at a bike shop. The owner had an old track bicycle hanging on the wall. Best said he and his friends used to sneak it out at night and ride it because it was the only bike available. The owner eventually sold the bike to Best, who now has it as his home as a decoration.
Now, at the age of 45, Best is preparing to compete at Masters World in Sydney, Australia, in October. In August, he won the 2009 Masters Track Cycling Championship in Colorado Springs, Colo., in the 45-and-older category. His best time was 1:08:9, only one second behind the national record for his age group.
"Close, but not close enough," he said.