(this blog will give you beginners introduction to riding on the track and how to make your first pedal strokes on the track).
Winter is coming and there are many options to stay fit in winter. While some find fulfillment in following a virtual person on a TV Screen, I prefer chasing real people going round in circles.
Both, Zwift and Track, may look boring at first glance to people outside the sport, but once you are hooked you will love it. Let me give you my 5 tips for your success on the track!
- Learn the rules
Once you have found out how you get to ride in your local velodrome legally, which sometimes can be a bureaucratic nightmare, it’s time to actually get going.
First: familiarize yourself with the rules. What meaning do the black/red/blue lines have? Why are some riders riding on top of the track while others are down low? ….
The real “track” start above the big blue line down at the bottom of the track – also known as the “Côte d’Azur”. Use the area below this line to gain speed and then enter the track. The first line you will see is the black line. This is the line the track is measured at. The standard length is 250m (for Olympia, World Championships, World Cups,…) but the length can vary from 156m to up to 500m. Between the black and red line you will find what is called the “sprinters lane” If you find yourself riding in between the red and black line, no other rider is allowed to pass you underneath. The last line, the narrow blue line, is what is called the “stayers line”. For certain events in racing this is used as a separation. (Madison/Stayers)
In a normal training session you will find riders split in smaller groups all over the track. The rule normally is the following: Keep the sprinters lane clear. It should be mostly used for faster cyclists doing intervals etc. For a normal endurance training/warm up/cool down you should ride on or above the narrow blue line. Therefore faster cyclists can pass you underneath easily and you keep out of their way. When entering, or leaving the track make sure to shoulder check regularly.
Please familiarize yourself with all the other rules as well at your local venue: no spitting, no music, no drinks,…
Remember: you are riding on a fixed gear bicycle with no brakes. What sounds super scary at first is actually pretty safe. Remember: No one can brake. Get used to the bike and never stop pedaling. Other than that, a track bike handles pretty similar to a road bike. Make sure your tires are inflated properly and all wheels/bolts are fastened. Since you only have one gear to choose before riding choose wisely. I’d recommend a small gear to start with. Something in between 90 – 95 inches. This blog will help with gearing.
- Ride the track (a lot)
You know the rules, your bike is set up you are super excited to get going. If you were like me, and didn’t pay too much attention in physics class here is a short reminder:
“At the ideal speed, the net force of the centrifugal force (outward) and gravity (downward) is angled down through the bicycle, perpendicular to the riding surface.”
Summary: Don’t ride too slow or you will fall. Gravity is a bitch. It’s hard to name a km/h number but generally keep in mind: “safety through speed” Try to go above 30km/h in the beginning and learn to feel the track. It’s a really unusual feeling that you will experience. When riding try to NOT lean your upper body inwards but try to keep your bike in a 90° angle to the ground. Keep your upper body relaxed, look at least 20m to the front, keep pedaling and smile. (very important)
- Learn from people who have experience
(Track) Cycling has a fantastic community – use it and get to know people. They will be happy to help you out and give you tips and tricks. Training together is more fun too! There are no stupid questions and you will feel welcome, I am sure about that!
- Use the track to your benefit
Wiggins, Thomas, Yates, Durbridge, Cavendish, Viviani, Gaviria, Stannard, Edmonson, Mercx,…
They all were/are amazing track riders. There certainly is something special about developing your skills on the track that helps with other aspects of cycling. We’ll look into the details of demands and skills of track racing in the next blog.
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