Ever since Team GB have dominated on the track I thought it would be fun to give track cycling a go. So when the Pacific Spirit Tri Club arranged a team track night at the Burnaby Velodrome I jumped at the opportunity,
We met at the track at 7 which is slightly in the middle of nowhere and would have made a great set for a horror movie but I digress.
We signed in and collected our rental bikes. You bring your own pedals if you want to clip in so I attached mine and was all set. The next job was putting the track in place as there had been a bit missing that acted as an entrance. We were a bit unsure about this…
Soon, the bikes, the track and the team were ready. The next thing to worry about was how we were going to get round the corners. When you stand at the bottom it’s impossible not to be concerned about the physics and the inevitable crash that will follow. You definitely can’t walk up it so how the hell are you meant to cycle around it. This photo nearly does it justice but it’s crazy!
We had a quick briefing from the two coaches, who were great throughout the evening, before getting going. They generally had a sort of sink or swim approach but with useful instruction to make sure everyone was on the right area at the right time.
Keen to get going I jumped on my bike and encountered my first issue… how do I start?
The bikes have fixed gears which means they don’t have brakes and the pedals are directly attached to the wheels. So to brake you have to slow your pedalling and if you stop too quickly the bike tries to throw you off. My eventual strategy invovled pedalling one legged for a few rounds and then clip my other foot in.
My first few laps were quite wobbly but I quickly improved and they added some cones to get us on to the edge of the track (still very flat). It was busy with 12 rookies on the track. I felt it was going to be absolute carnage once we were heading up the sides and trying to overtake each other.
We stopped for a quick debrief and some tips before heading back out and trying to get up the sides. This actually turned out to be easier than I thought once you are going at the required speed (30km/hr), you just have to be brave and commit. As everyone got more confident and steady the track didn’t feel busy at all, but it was slightly terrifying being above people in the corners as you are literally above them!
Before long we were all flying around and taking to it like ducks to water.
The next drill we worked on was riding in groups of 4 like the team pursuit at the Olympics. This was great as you got a break for 3 laps and I would like to think we were a slick unit but I’m sure we weren’t. The main issue I had was the track sort of throws you out of the corners so you have to be careful not to bump in to the person ahead!
Luckily all accidents were avoided but going at the required speed is hard work and so I eventually dropped down for a break. On my slow down lap I decided to rest and stopped turning my legs as you do on a road bike. The pedals picked me up and tried to throw me off and the wheels jumped. I let my legs turn in time to avoid a disaster but a timely reminder you have to remained focussed.
The remainder of the evening was free cycle time which took up the remainder of the two hour session. It is exhausting, so two hours (around 1hr cycling) was more than enough for me.
A great way to spend a Saturday evening and was so exciting being up the top of the track. I highly recommend people give it a go as it’s quite the adrenaline rush. However, while one evening was a lot of fun I’m not sure how much more I would do as it’s just cycling around in circles and at times I almost felt dizzy. Someone then pointed out it’s probably more interesting than swimming up and down a pool. I guess they may have a point but each to their own.
A great tri club social event and always excited to try new things!
Now back to the real training with Ironman Utah only 3 months away….