Tribesports Tries Velodrome Cycling
We took on the Challenge for the Tribesports team to go and Try Velodrome Cycling at the Herne Hill velodrome!
Herne Hill was opened in 1891 and was the cycling track used in the 1948 London Olympics. With these historic facts in mind, Rose K , Will R, Joana G, Joe C and Cags R stepped out onto the velodrome for the first time.
Now the first question on our lips was 'where are the brakes?!" - most of us being fixie novices the idea of strapping our feet into bikes that we couldn't stop whenever we liked was a bit intimidating! Our instructor Ian was great through and talked us through the whole process.
What you need:
Fixed gear bike - at Herne Hill this is provided for you
Tight but comfortable clothing - no loose trouser legs or sleeves for safety and padded shorts are recommended if you own them!
Helmet - Herne Hill does have a few helmets but it is preferred that you bring your own
To get started:
Initially we were asked to do one lap and come back to the fence to stop, getting us used to riding the fixie and making sure we could stop! We then rode 4 consecutive laps which allowed us to get used to banking of the track:
The first lap was on the white line - the quickest way around the track on the inside, this is where you ride unless you are overtaking.
The second lap was up on the red line - the line to take for overtaking those one the white line
The third lap was on the blue line - used for lead riders to go up to drop to the back of the chain gang when working as a team.
On our final lap we went above the blue line to get more comfortable with the banking which 30 degrees at the Herne Hill velodrome. At indoor tracks the banking is much steeper at 45 degrees and the track is shorter; 250m rather than the 450m at Herne Hill.
Introduction to the chain-gang
So once we comfortable with the track and how to stop we progressed on to how to ride in a group.
An important thing for us to learn was that we could ride a lot closer to each other than we thought; what started as around 2 bike lengths was shortened to around 1/2 a bike length.
In order to get us reducing the distance we cycled 4 laps, each time reducing the distance between us by around 1/2 a bike length - it was a great exercise to get us working at constant speeds too!
We then covered how to drop out from the front of the chain-gang; the leading rider uses around 30% more energy than those riding behind.
The wind break (not 'break wind' as Rose kindly pointed out to me!) signals to move out to the right, up to the red or blue line, allowing the rest of the cyclists to pass underneath and then drops back into line of riders.
Now we're not ones to get too competitive at Tribesports...ok I lied, we're all ridiculously competitive, so when it came to race time we were all game for a bit of 'friendly' competition! Rose absolutely kicked our butts. I did not enjoy it!
If you're interested in starting velodrome cycling then join the velodrome cyclying then join the Velodrome Cyclists Tribe, take on the Challenge to Take an induction session at a velodrome and share your experiences and race tactics with other track cyclists!
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