Rollapaluza National Series: Team Tribesports represents
Rollapaluza is a static bike race set up over 500m. 2 riders race on the custom built Roller bikes which are attached to a huge dial behind them. It's first bike across the line and results are recorded within .00 of a second!
The Rollapaluza events have been attended by Olympic Champions; Chris Hoy clocking in an impressive 19.44 second 500m and Robert Förstemann's biggest-legs-in-cycling achieving a more than respectable 20.61 seconds. But it's not just the pros who get to ride the Roller rigs, Rollapaluza tours the country, going into schools, sports events and private parties alike. For many it will be their first experience riding a fixed gear bike (only lacking the front wheel) and a unique experience to race. Seizing on their ability to travel with the Rollapaluza rigs, the company set up their National Series.
On my first Rollapaluza attempt, up on Box Hill during the 2012 Men's Olympic road race, I beat my big brother (not that I've gloated about it at family events at all) and came away with a free T-shirt, a bottle of Zico and the fastest woman's time of the day.
It was at this moment when I realised the full potentional enjoyment of Rollapaluza; the combination of cycling, one-on-one competition AND free stuff meant that I was keen to learn more!
The National Series is an annual event which tours across the UK; Bristol, London, Leeds, Sheffield and Glasgow all got a visit from the traveling static bikes this year, setting up in bars so you can spectate with a pint-in-hand and a megaphone too if you like.
I went along to the London round where I was amazed to see the mix of people; cycle couriers, track cyclists, roadies, triathletes and complete non-cyclists who just fancied a go! Representing Team Tribesports, I came away with 1st place, a U34 cycling jacket, £50 voucher and an invitation to the National Series Final which would be hosted around 6 weeks after the initial London Qualifiers.
One of the pretty unique things about Rollapaluza is the equal prizes for men and women. Although there is still a pretty large gender split on the numbers of entries, it's awesome to see the company actively encouraging more women to take part by offering an equal standing to the men.
At this point in the competition, I won't lie, I was getting pretty cocky about the whole thing. It wasn't until I checked the Glasgow results that I realised that compared to an actual track cyclist, my time was not fast enough. Enter Ishbel Taromsari - hopeful for the Commonwealth Games next year who blew my time out the water! I caught up with Ishbel after the National Finals to find out how she got into track cycling and Rollapaluza racing:
"Not long after the Chris Hoy Velodrome opened in Glasgow in October last year I went along to one of the learner sessions. To be honest I didn't even know the fixed gear bikes had no brakes until I arrived!. On this session the Head Coach, Kevin Stewart approached me to say he thought I might be a sprinter and would I consider giving it a go. Straight away I saw the opportunity and asked if this meant I didn't have to cycle up hills any more and he said yes. That was it. That was the moment. By December I had begun training for sprint.
I had never heard of Rollapaluza until a week before this years Glasgow National. One of the Chris Hoy Velodrome's mechanics Niall Dobbie was talking about this crazy sounding race called Rollapaluza -in a pub on 2 stationary bicycles with a big timer behind. So I went along for a bit of fun. I was so surprised I won! And I got prizes! Such a great night - can't wait for them to come back."
The Finals of Rollapaluza National Series were hosted at Vibe Bar in Brick Lane, London (cue my wishful thinking that Ishbel might not want to travel down from Scotland!) and saw some pretty epic times post - including the 2nd fastest women's time ever posted, beating Victoria Pendleton's time - unfortunately, not by me!
"I went to London for the final where I met and raced alongside Tribesports' Cags. Again another really positive and fun experience. I won that too. Again I was suprised. I was sure I was going to lose the final race I was so knackered - maybe that's why I tried so hard."
The organisers are pretty notorious for capturing you at your least flattering angle to really capture the leg-burning pain of your 20-25 second sprints.
There's also a split in what people choose to race in; up until the national finals, I only ever raced in jeans - but with the potential prize money of £300 for first place and £150 for second, I decided it was worth throwing some running leggings on. Best outfit of the night? Has to go to Greg Dicken's signature Spiderman lycra!
As for my race in the Finals, I claimed second place, with the second fastest women's time of the night and a more than worthy opponent who took first place! How did we spend that hard earned prize money? Ishbel's went on "the boring but necessary cost of training on the track" up in Glasgow, whilst I spent mine on a curry dinner, 1 Beyonce ticket and a swingball set - yes, I think I see why she beat me now! Definitely keen for a grudge match next year - bring on the Rollapaluza National series 2014.
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