Jumping on a fixed-wheel bike with no brakes whilst riding around gravity-defying bankings, elbow to elbow with the rider beside you, can be a terrifying prospect.
But once you get over the fear (which you will do very quickly) you’ll find that track cycling is an extremely exhilarating sport that has multiple benefits that can be transferred to any cycling discipline, including improved fitness, advanced bike handling skills and competitive performance.
Here are just a few of the many reasons why you should consider giving track cycling a go….
Scary is good! The scary bit is actually good for you.Even Laura Kenny CBE has commented that, “riding with a fixed-wheel bike with no brakes will improve your bike-handling skills quickly”.
Pedal strokes will become smoother. When riding road and mountain bike trials you can often find yourself falling into bad habits. It might be that you rely too heavily on the stronger muscle groups or find yourself stomping down on the pedals, which will lead to dead spots in your pedal strokes. Fixed-gear bikes require a more fluid pedal stroke which will in turn lead to the production of extra watts of power.
Fitter and faster quicker. Track cycling allows you to cycle at your fastest without stopping for obstructions in the road or traffic lights. Training on the track allows you to generate more speed and explosive power which can then be transferred to the road or trials. Additionally, track cycling requires cycling at a higher cadence than on the road (around 110 to 130rpm) which will benefit you a lot when you return to the road.
Whatever the weather or time! Visiting your nearest velodrome means that you do not have to worry about bad weather, head winds or it being too dark. Most velodromes will have a variety of sessions for you to choose from, so whenever you are free you can still fit in some track time. This also allows you to monitor your progress more accurately.
New community of friends. Every cycling discipline has their own unique community of cyclists and by getting into track cycling you’ll be surprised at the amount of people you will meet on the way.
Transferable Skills. No matter what level of track cycling you get up to, you will always learn skills and techniques that will cross over onto the road, BMX and mountain bike trails.
Lana’s Top Tips for Beginners:
• If you haven’t already, get some padded shorts. They do not need to be expensive and you will really appreciate them at the end of the session.
• Don’t be nervous! I know it is easy to say but remember that everyone in the session feels exactly the same and are all at the same level.
• Never be afraid to ask questions! If you’re not sure on a particular exercise the coach is asking the group to do, just ask them to go through it again. Never enter the track unless you know exactly what you’re doing.
• Do not rush to buy a bike or equipment. We suggest hiring our equipment throughout your accreditation, this means all the riders are on the same gearing.
• Just enjoy yourself!
A Guide to Track Accreditation:
To ride the velodrome track at Lee Valley VeloPark during track leagues and structured training sessions, riders must have completed our four stage accreditation process:
Stage 1 is an hour long and involves learning the basics of riding the velodrome track and a fixed wheel bike. You will also learn a range of new skills and techniques including group riding, track gradients, hand positions and riding in a basic line.
Stage 2 is a two-hour long session which aims to progress riders from the basic skills learnt so far to a range of techniques including group riding exercises and techniques to help ride in a group.
Stage 3 is also two hours long and is aimed to help riders learn how to apply speed to the techniques they have already learnt, as well as improving their skills within a bunch.
Stage 4 is a two-hour long assessment which will access all the skills learnt in stages 1 to 3. You will be assessed in a range of scenarios and exercises from each of the previous stages.
Once you are accredited you will be able to attend structured training sessions known as Power Fitness and Race Ready. Once you have attended five of these sessions you will qualify to compete in track league events and ride the velodrome track at Cycle Derby Velodrome, National Cycling Centre Velodrome in Manchester, Wales National Velodrome and Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow.
For more information, please visit www.visitleevalley.org.uk/velopark
Written by Lana Redgewell,
Session Coach at Lee Valley VeloPark