Progress Report

Feasibility study successfully concluded

Dec 29th

Castle Lake is the location of the inaugural ice velodrome. Castle Lake is near the city of Mt Shasta, right up from Lake Siskiyou.

I already went up yesterday to check if the lake was frozen and indeed it was. However, the ice was covered with about 5 inches of snow.

So the plan was to return today and bring a snow shovel to clear the ice and so I did.

I started clearing the home straight. I got it maybe 40m - 50m long and about 1 m wide, i.e. three showel width. The snow was easy to move and there was clear, solid, slightly textured ice underneath.

Then I went on with Turn 1. I wasn't very sophisticated with the turning radius. Just did it by feeling, next time I will bring some thread for an even turn radius. But Turn 1 turned out pretty smooth.

Turn 2 didn't come out that well. Instead of ice, I hit frozen snow which was bumpy and too soft, not providing enough grip. I continued with the back straight. I got most it done. I stopped there and focused on riding the track I had built.

Then it was time to set a velodrome record. Things went pretty well. The grip on the straight when accelerating and in Turn 1 was really solid. I had a small gear (38:20, about 50 gear inches) and was probably not going much faster than 30 km/h (20 mph).

I didn't get to the point where the tires were loosing grip in the turn. But based on this initial experience I'm pretty confident that full speed can be achieved, maybe the turns (this one was pretty tight). have to be widened a bit.

Then the snow storm started. That's definitely something to be avoided. The track was covered under a blanket of snow quickly and 1/2 an inch already slows you down and you loose grip.

I had to clean the trak every 5 min now and it became the Velodrome Sisyphus. The track narrowed down to one shovel width. But this was fine for me as a single rider.

Eventually the snow was getting too much and the track turned into Velodrome Atlantis. But there will be another day and Velodrome Atlantis will re-surface.

First real snow ride

Dec 12th 2009

So, today was the day were the snow bike and I had our first real engagement. The bike had its ice tires and I had my winter shoes, and there was plenty of snow and ice at the Mt Shasta Ski Park parking lot.

The parking lot was cleared, i.e. there was about an 1 - 2 inch of compact snow / ice on the ground. Normal riding and steering was just fine. making turns were usually not a problem. A few times, things got a little shaky because the snow was too soft and giving in.

Traction for accelerating was pretty good, reminded me of riding on the beach. Full acceleration from a standing start required weight distribution control so that both wheels state on the ground. Nothing really specific to snow and ice.

I did some fairly tight 180 degree turns - I was too scared to try at higher speed. I need more padding before I try this. Sumo suite or hockey undies, I guess.

The handle bar is not good standing starts, obviously. However, I'm not sure yet where to go: standard track or bull horn.

I also changed gears, I put on the biggest one I got which is 38:16 (64 inch). I think something 75 should be mores suitable.

The bigger gear moved the wheel further back and then the rear break didn't fit anymore. No big deal. But I may put on a disk brake on the back wheel.

Conclusion from the day:
- drag racing with a moving or standing start will work great
- turns on snow/ice need more investigation (maybe by someone fearless)
Get your ice bikes ready - the Ice Sprint World Champions will come soon and in 8 years Ice Sprint will be Olympic.

Tires mounted

Dec 5th 2009

on pavement, they sound like T-34s rolling into town to smash the counter-revolution

Tires arrived in the mail

Dec 3rd 2009

First snow ride

Thanksgiving 2009

Snow was very slushy resulting in low speed. Brakes and transmission didn't have any issues with this kind of snow. Traction on normal mountian bike tires was better than expected.

Ordered Tires

Mid-November 2009

Ordered studded production tires. Originally I wanted a pair of Nokian Freddie's Dowhhill with extra long studs. However, they stopped making them. So I settled for Schwalbe's Ice Spiker Pro which won the test at the German magazine Bike. I got them for $94 a piece, plus $10 shipping.

Got a bike

Early November 2009

Found a single speed mountainbike on Craig's list and acquired a Redline Monocog 26" for $250.

Idea

October 2009

I have been thinking for a while about doing bicycle speedway which is popular in the UK and some Eastern European countries. But so far I failed to get people joining me in this endeavour. I guess there's already too much to do in the San Francisco Bay Area.

During the summer fo 2009 we got a house in the mountains, in Dunsmuir, just a few minutes away from Mt Shasta. This got me started to think about what to do in the winter, besides snowboarding and snow shoeing.

As there is ice speedway for motor bikes, I thought, why not do it on bicycles. That's how it got all started.

Subsequently I did research on the Internet and indeed ther are a few people, mostly in Canada and Scandinavia, riding on ice. But so far there was little focus on sprinting. I also researched tires and thought about bikes, the results in those sections.

Discussion