Track riding can require specialised equipment and you’ll need to learn some new skills, but don’t let that put you off. Evans Cycles bring to you their guide on getting into track cycling with everything you’ll need to know before you set out on your track adventure.
How can I go about starting?
You don’t need to worry too much about developing these skills on your own – most tracks and clubs will offer coaching and bike hire, so you can find your feet comfortably and give it a go before you commit to any specialist track cycling gear. You should definitely book yourself a taster session at your local track. In this you’ll learn essential safety tips and basic practicalities such as how to get onto the track, and common track rules.
>> Struggling to get to the shops try 6 issues of Cycling Weekly magazine for just £6 delivered to your door <<
After you’ve had a couple of taster sessions you can move onto progression lessons. This is recommended if you’re thinking of getting into track cycling properly because the more you ride the track, the more you gel with it and the more natural it becomes.
Why not get used to the track with a group of people, instead of doing it alone. After you’re comfortable on the track for a steady 20mins or so you can then begin to master the more complex skills associated with track cycling.
Top tips: It’s important not to eat too much before you go, and you certainly shouldn’t drink anything fizzy.
For your initial lessons wear old comfy clothes. You don’t necessarily need specialist cycle clothes for the first few times track cycling but those who are looking to take their cycling seriously should consider specialised, breathable clothing, such as Endura cycle clothing with fabrics that minimise moisture build up. It’s also recommended that you wear two layers of clothing. This is because, if you do fall off, wearing two layers will reduce friction burns as the two layers rub together.
Indoor or outdoor?
The track itself is specially built with two tight, banked corners joined by two short straights. Track length varies – outdoor tracks are usually longer with shallower bankings. Outdoor tracks are concrete or tarmac surfaced. The benefits of an indoor track are the fact that they’re open all year round, whereas outdoor tracks are only open during the summer months.
How is track cycling different from road cycling?
The main difference is that track bikes have got no breaks and are set in a fixed gear so you constantly have to pedal. One of the hardest things to get used to is constantly having to be pedalling and also the difference in motion – on a track you’re moving round and round, not up or down.
However there are some similarities: going into bends is like going uphill, you have to push a bit more, and coming out of the bend you pick up more speed as you would going downhill.
As well as no breaks and a fixed wheel, there are two main types of track bikes:
- Upright bikes with dropped handlebars and carbon spoked wheels. These bikes are used for bunch races of 20-30 people and Match Sprint.
- Low-profile bikes can have ‘triathlon’ style bars, which allow you ride in a more aerodynamic position. The wheels are often carbon disc. You give up manoeuvrability for aerodynamic efficiency, and these bikes are used for Pursuit races.
If you do get really keen on track cycling then you can get your own bike – however most velodromes will provide one. The only downside to renting these is that you can only really adjust the seat up or down, so getting your own bike will allow you to tweak and adjust for optimum personal use.
It’s never too late to start track cycling – it’s invigorating and a great way to stay fit and have a laugh with your friends. You’ll find that it’s a friendly sport so get down to your nearest velodrome and give it a go!