It's the Summer Olympics meets "Jersey Shore," and to be honest, you could spend two hours with a pair of binoculars just watching what's going on in the Velodrome's answer to a tent city, and it would be good value for the money.
But that would mean missing the races, which are hilarious.
First, Friday at the Velodrome gave us the team pursuit, and the team pursuit can be summed up in two words: funny helmets. Yes, as in road cycling's time trials, the members of the track team pursuit wear helmets painstakingly designed to make them look as ridiculous as possible. Imagine if Darth Vader had been a doofus as a kid. That's the helmet he would have worn. Vaguely intimidating in a LOL sort of way.
Then, because the principles of aerodynamics demand even more sacrifices of these poor chaps, they ride around on bicycles that look like giant pizza cutters – the wheel spokes covered by a solid disc. Dominos must get in as a sponsor on this.
But team pursuit was just a warmup. Next came the main event: the keirin race.
The keirin race takes some explanation, so bear with me. In the keirin, all the cyclists follow around a dude on a motorized bike – called a "derny," because, apparently, "motorized bike" was already taken – for 6-1/2 laps, then the derny leaves the track and they can all properly start the race, and it does get rather exciting for the last 2-1/2 laps.
The pleasant young lady sitting next to me tried to explain that the derny is the pace-setter, which unfortunately does not explain its reason for existing. After all, the pace car in NASCAR races does not ride in front of the field for 350 laps, and only then let the racers start racing.