A few nights ago in the depths of a London student union where beer is actually a good price but tastes like 3 years of un-cleaned pumps cyclists were putting their abilities to the test. The event is called Rollapaluza and I was invited along to take a look.
The premise is simple. You have two fixed gear bikes with the back wheels resting on a roller. Two
fools willing participants then race each other to 500 metres.
When I was talking to the organisers I guessed how long it would take to get there. One minute, maybe two? The top guys can do it in under 21 seconds reaching speeds of around 50 mph. The famous cyclist Chris Hoy did it in 19.44.
The rollers on the back wheels offer very little resistance which makes it possible to reach these speeds. This is purely a test of cadence so you put your head down and pedal your heart out until someone tells you to stop.
After watching a few others have a go at Rollapaluza I signed myself up.
I climbed onto the bike and had a quick test run. The lack of resistance was quite scary as I realised how fast I would have to push my legs. Having very little experience of fixed-gear bikes I immediately experienced the kick-back you get if you stop pedalling too fast. The only tips I picked up from everyone else was to not tense the upper body too much and that I will probably be feeling sick at the end of the race. After an introduction from the organiser as a London Cycling blogger I felt like I had something to prove. I cursed them for not introducing me as someone who has never ridden fixed gear. At least then I would have an excuse.
The countdown started, I put my right foot in the push down position, took one last look at my opponent and prepared for the next 30 seconds. On go I was pedalling as fast as I could. It’s hard to describe the speed in which you are pedalling other than “really fast”. From what I can tell my opponent got an early lead on me but soon the encouragement from others had me catching back up. I put my head down and kept going. I didn’t want to lose this one.
At some point someone must have told me to stop or due to the cheers I figured the race was over. I looked up at the time to find out the result. 25.84 seconds. My opponent was a tiny fraction of a second longer. I had won my first ever Rollapaluza event!
Getting off the bike you notice a massive adrenaline rush and with that rush you are instantly addicted to Rollapaluza.
The organisers put on events all over the place and can be hired to jazz up any event. I recommend keeping an eye on their website to see if there is any you might be able to attend.
My results are here.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.