First time at the Velodrome

On Friday evening I had my first taste of riding the boards at the velodrome in Manchester courtesy of Weaver Valley Cycling Club. I hadn't had any track cycling experience before, nor had I ridden a fixed or fixed with no brakes!

All I can say is that if you love your cycling, you need to get on the track. It is the most overwhelming, exhilarating, mindblowingly, adrenalin fuelled fun you will have on two wheels. It is brilliant.

The air whooshes past your face, the massive kick you get as you come off the bend, your surroundings just whizz by, it is such a great sensation.

Some beginners tips if you're visiting the Velodrome for the first time.

1) You can hire a track bike from the Velodrome for £10. They are all fixed wheel, all you need to know is your frame size.

2) You can hire cycling shoes from the Velodrome for £4 or if you use Look Delta cleats you'll be ok.

3) Riding a fixed wheel bike can be strange at first, even stranger without any brakes! With a fixed wheel, the cranks are constantly moving so you can't freewheel. Don't worry if you try to, you just get a gentle reminder from the bike to keep pedalling! Track cycling is all about how fast you can spin your legs, together with leg power.

4) You brake by 1) softly cycling backwards, this takes some getting used to as I found I was yanking back to harshly at first or 2) start to cycle at a slower revolution.

5) Every session has a trainer from the Velodrome who will get you on your way. The sessions are split into 2, one half for beginners and intermediates and then another half for the experienced boys and girls (we were getting 15 minutes on rotation which worked out really well).

6) The key thing about cycling at the Velodrome is to push hard through the corners. It is all about forward motion and looking around you. Never move out without a good look.

7) Don't worry about the banking, it does look intimidating at first but let gravity help you out. When we were racing we used the black inside line as it is the shortest way round the course and used the blue line for overtaking. You start off by riding around on the flat "cote d'azur" around the edge at first to get used to a fixed wheel bike and then go up onto the banking. At first it is a wierd sensation trying to stick to the line, you'll wobble about a bit. I found it dodgy on the corners but you just have to relax and trust that the bike isn't going to from under you, and as long as you're pedalling it won't do.

8) Self control is a massive area. Get some group riding experience so you know how to alter your cadence to suit the man in-front. You need to be thinking ahead, pre-plan your movements and be aware of what is happening being you.

9) Always overtake on the outside. Never on the inside.

10) Relax and enjoy it. I found as soon as I relaxed my upper body, loosened my grip on the bars I could concentrate not only on the race but let my legs do the work.


Anonymous said...

Hi Andy, Visited the velodrome on Saturday 16th with my son & son in law. First time on the boards for us all. Absolutely loved it. Best 10£ you can spend. Can't wait to go again.

Paul M

Woody said...

Hi Paul,

Thanks for getting in touch, glad you enjoyed, such an amazing buzz isn't it! Hope to see you there sometime in the future!