Track to Road

Mar 23 2012

I stopped riding my track bike in 2007. It was a decision. I rode a real one for 10 years. I quit being a messenger. Dan gave me the Freeway Schwinn and I started coasting around Downtown Manhattan 5mph. It was clear to me that a huge trend was rolling in and I was personally affected by it.

To me track bikes were sacred and legendary, the people that rode them on the streets were my heroes. The components that dressed these frames were an easy view into how deep into it someone else was. These were the bikes of messengers who were cooler and more insane and complicated and committed than anyone else.

Anyone into these bikes was so deep into them-fiending for knowledge and parts. There were notable characters in some US cities that were involved early and these classic track frames and components were readily available. The transition to frame materials other than steel in bike racing was making all of these bikes available for nothing or around $200.

All of that was lost in translation when the first major barrage of outsider media exposure infected the bikes. I have no problem with anyone riding these fine machines but have always been suspect of the reasons why? We aren’t giving you a set of rules, but we are showing you how to do it right. The experts of this industry are carpet-bagging frauds-they entirely missed the feelingimposing skateboard and streetwear industry marketing concepts on these simple, perfect vehicles.

The anti-track bike imagery we were pushing into the internet starting in 2007 was a reactionary measure used to protect the culture surrounding the original urban riders of these machines.


I had a 1998 Pinarello Paris frame I got from my man in 2000 and built it up piece by piece by 2005. Road riding was a thing that eventually got me out of destructive partying, smoking cigarettes, and a general negative outlook about most things in life. Your body will reject these things in favor of pushing itself physically.

It was a hard adjustment at first, its like a transformation. If you ride a track bike all day everyday for 10 years and you switch over to road it’s strange. Its like you almost can’t go back. The first time you forget to pedal on your track bike and almost roll over the bars is when you know its really happening.

You go fast on a road bike. I still adjust to it. On a track bike when you descend you need to control your pedaling to control your speed. Its work up and work down. On a road bike you release at the top of the climb and then really go fast and your legs want to control your speed but only increase it. You have to trust your hands- which you squeeze mercilessly for a while, until you start to believe they will actually stop you from crashing in to traffic or off a cliff.

Everything slows down after a while, things are less of a blur, and you feel more control than you could on your track bike ever. Climbing is developed over time. GSLL Mat T is a good example of someone who’s ridden track bikes into an urban setting for a number of years and this season is trying his hand on the road.

I included some of Mat’s rides, they’re good realistic rides to set. 15 and 20 mile rides with light climbing a couple days a week. (Some dude’s vibing him on strava about climbing. Its realistic, I wonder what that dude rides?) As his lungs and legs adjust he’ll want more.

In the week I can afford to give about 3 or 4 real 2 hour rides and some longer times in the weekend. I keep it in the city though I’m feeling a need to expand out more. I try to do at least half climbing in the ride and the rest of the time rolling on flat stuff or descending. I like it to be work and fun together.

I think Mat T’s looking at a similar thing. He has some injuries coming into this, but so do we all really, and he’s stepping at it like he wants to do more, but he’s hitting the same bumps I think come to anyone who’s real new to it or coming back to it always faces.

Your lungs scream for it to stop and your legs are wobbling and telling you to stop and you keep going over the top of the hill to go fast down the other side like a downhill skier dodging ignorant drivers. It is physically draining-Its not for everyone.

You can cruise around on a bike and do minimal effort climbing and have a great time. Bikes are fun, there’s a lot of paths you can take, at Landlords we don’t put the Road over anyone else but we do know that’s where everything came from.

If you want to ride road bikes fast it’s different. It’s a world class sport ridden by professional athletes whose huge heroic efforts make your workload and rides seem tiny or non-existent. I look at these riders with the admiration and respect they deserve. The local people in every city worldwide that race and train hard daily and early are the other side of this. Respect them.

I’m not in the same class as these riders. I want to be fast on my local hills. I know my time limitations and can’t control them so I work with what I have. (Which is lots, remember we have the USPRO championships here right? We have some local work.)
Its humbling and its hard but the reward always seem to make it worth it.

There’s a lot of fast people in Philly-a lot faster than me. They ride more, have been riding longer, and I know who they are. I don’t have any illusions about being the fastest or riding the hardest. Anyone who is telling you they are – well you figure that out. You only get an equal amount of performance to the work and training you put into it. You can not expect to ride uphill and descend skillfully on a roadbike because you bust around 50 square blocks of flat city on a fixed gear.

I know Mat’s hitting the early bumps that I hit in this and he’s adjusting. You get vibed by people from both sides- road and track. Its crazy bike discrimination man. You also realize its hard work and its not immediate. You don’t get on an Eddy Merckx road bike the first time and become Eddy. You might feel like it for the first two miles but 100 feet into the climb you’ll forget all that. A lot of people go home and put the bike in the closet at that stage. (Which is where we fit in- thanks people who put your bikes in the closet and sell them cheap)

I’m coming back now, I feel like I’m working out the kinks in my bike from 2011 and looking forward to getting my new frame built up at Kyle’s in a few weeks. The Paris on 98 Ventos was the most fun in Central Park for hot dogging dudes on their training runs and pretending to be Big Mig on the one descent by the Laser Rink but its not suited for me in Philly where I’ve been back since 2009.

When I first got back here the hills were real alluring and real humbling. I’m slowly learning but there’s so much more. I’ll be riding as much as I can this year. I think the strava group is good motivation for that. Maybe I’ll see you out there, though I have to admit, I like to be alone for a lot of it.

Mat T’s Merckx