Our Track Coach Richard Carter writes :-
So I’ve recently been hearing from a lot of people who “would ride the velodrome, but…..”, so I’ve put together a few of the things I most commonly hear and my answers.
I don’t want to die!
This is something I hear all the time. While sadly everyone will die at some point, the good news is that riding the velodrome is actually quite safe so you’re unlikely to die while doing that! I’d say you’re more likely to crash riding the cycle circuit than the velodrome. With no corners to brake for and other riders all following pretty much the same line at the same speed, riding on the velodrome is pretty straight forward.
Ugh why all the rules and regulation, why can’t I use my own bike. It’s too much hassle!
Riding the velodrome couldn’t be any easier. Simply turn up and you’ll be given a bike to use – free of charge and a decent high-end bike at that. No mechanical fettling, no worrying about the components, just turn up and ride. You can’t use your existing road bike for a multitude of reasons I won’t go into, mainly the fact that having brakes would be dangerous.
Ah but I already have a fixed gear road bike!
If it has no brakes you’re welcome to try it on the track but I suspect you may find it sub-optimal. The geometry will be designed for cornering on the road, the bottom bracket will be too low, the bars too wide, etc. Again, there’s not really any point when the hire bikes at the velodrome are full Dura Ace high-end bikes and free to use.
I don’t have the fitness.
One of the huge advantages of the Middlesbrough track is the surface and shallow banking (only 30 degrees). This means that when dry you can tootle around very slowly and still have enough grip to avoid slipping off. It’s unlikely you’d be riding slowly enough for there to be any risk. Track riding will soon bring your fitness up, only having one gear means you have to train at different levels of cadence and power, plus the fact you have to keep pedalling 100% of the time is a great work out.
I’m scared to go fast round the banking.
Speed is your friend. Crashes due to going too slowly are common indoors where there’s a reasonably high minimum speed – I’ve never seen anyone crash because they took the banking too quickly.
I’m scared to go up the banking.
The angle at the bottom of the banking is the same as the angle at the top of the banking so don’t worry about that – you just have to push a bit harder. We’ll start you off at the bottom to build your confidence, but as soon as you can ride round near the bottom there’s no reason you can’t ride round the top 🙂
I’m not a sprinter so the track isn’t for me.
We cover a range of activities in the sessions. Some might want to smash out 200m at 30+mph sure, but many other will want to ride round for much longer slower efforts, we cater to all tastes! Many of the great cyclists have come from a velodrome background. You learn how important cadence is, race tactics, bike handling, pacing, group skills, etc.
I can’t ride with toe straps.
Not a problem, feel free to bring your own pedals/shoes with you. All I ask if that you bring any tools required to fit/remove the pedals.
I’m a small child, can I ride the velodrome.
You can indeed! We’ve already had a few children ride the velodrome, and so far they’ve all found it great fun. One of the best sessions we had was when young Izzy Mayes and Daniel Thompson came to show the usual track crowd how it’s done, with young trumping experience in a cheeky scratch race. That said – I vaguely remember some of the adults saying they let the kids win, ten minutes later when they got their breath back ??. Again we have a range of hire bikes for children if required.