Tandemonium 8/3 - By Keith Hatton

Everyone who starts an endeavor as demanding as cycling has a moment that they strive to achieve and thats what all the training and racing comes down to. Racing in a pro field on the track was the reason I started cycling in the first place. This past Tuesday (7/31) I was invited to join the pro men in racing on Friday, which was a dream come true to prove myself worthy of being asked so. The next day, Wednesday, I was contacted as someone was looking for a stoker on their tandem track bike for Tandemonium at the track. So, not only was I asked if I wanted to throw down with the regular pro field, I was asked if I wanted to race on a tandem bike; as I have never ridden a tandem in any respect, this was a bit jarring, yet very exciting. On that Friday, I showed up a bit early to meet my partner, Doug, so we could get acquainted and see how it would be to ride the back of a tandem, especially on the track. After getting all our gear settled and his tandem bikes set up for me to ride with him we took our first spin out on the track. I was told from others the idea of what a Stoker's responsibilities were, so I did my best to execute it best I could by just being a motor and following the balance of the bike and its Captain. As Doug seemed he was taken out of the competitive world of cycling for sometime from injuries and other illnesses, we came out of the 12 bikes to be the slowest. It was ok with me, as it was a fascinating experience to gain on the track. According to Doug, I was his frist stoker that didn't scream on the first ride and was the first year he wasn't lapped in the field at the end event. So, from talking on Wednesday to meeting and riding together on Friday, seemed like a fun experience and we were safe and there were no crashes at all. As for the rest of the night, it was absolutely riveting to see those Friday night lights and real crowds at the track to watch some good ole' pro track racing. The Elimination race started fast off the gun, I was able to hang on for some time but got nipped by another rider after being swarmed and drifted to back then there was no room to get up and around and so was pulled, but it was nice to not be the first rider pulled. As for the 25 Lap Points lap, that also started quickly and kept up pace. I ended up loosing the wheel in front of me and more or less blew up after chasing down too many gaps or jumps that occurred in the race for people jumping for the points sprints. And lastly was the 2km Scratch race; now this race, was fun. The gun went off, we started rolling and was fun to hang in the field. I wasn't able, perhaps a mental block(?), to attack this or the other races, as I wanted to see how I can just hanging with these folks. In the end, it was the most exciting experience I have had on two wheels, as like I said, was the reason I ride a bike in the first place. I hope to get over the mental block and know I belong here and look forward to giving those boys a run for their money in the future!