You can ride a bike, you might have a bit of confidence on the road, so this track cycling business is going to be a piece of cake, right? Well, there’s more to it than just keeping your balance and pedaling as fast as you can. Our track cycling tips should help you get the most out of your first few sessions on the track.
Ride counter clockwise
The very first thing you should know is the direction of a track; track cyclists always ride in a counter-clockwise direction. This means that the only turns you will ever make on a track are left. That should make things a little easier!
Don’t stop pedaling
Track bikes are ‘fixed-wheel’, much like a spinning bike, which means you can't freewheel. This means that while the wheels are turning, so will the pedals. Trying to bring the bike to an immediate halt using the pedals will often end with an injury or the bike giving you a good kick.
Remember, no brakes
Track bikes have no brakes for a purpose. You won’t be able to lose momentum by braking, nor will you be able to cause a pile-up by braking and bringing all the riders behind you down — and that has to be a good thing. Just slow down gradually, until you come to a virtual stop.
Inflate your tyres more than normal
Tyres and wheels on a track bike are narrow and the tires should be inflated to pressures greater than those used in road cycling. This is to minimize the rolling resistance caused by friction.
Never pass on the inside
One of the most important things to remember on the track is not pass on the inside. Remember the maxim ‘inside suicide’ to remind you that you should never pass someone on the inside of the track i.e. the rider’s left hand side. Always look over your right shoulder before attempting to pull out to overtake.
Look the part in lycra
Okay, so lycra is never one of the most flattering of materials, but turning up in your gym gear or beach shorts is an absolute no-no. And your behind won’t thank you after a slide if your shorts have ridden half way up exposing your flesh to the worst splinters that the track has to offer. Tight fitting clothing will also help improve your aerodynamics.
Bank only when you have sufficient speed
Don't try riding up the banking until you have enough speed for the centrifugal force to hold you there. Fact is, if you don’t have enough momentum, you will slide off and embarrassingly so. While road cyclists slow down for bends, track riders pick the speed up.
Just pass and go
If you actually get a chance to pass a rider, keep on pedaling as hard as you can to prevent the rider you’ve just passed latching onto you again and gaining an advantage by using your slipstream. It’s important to make your pass stick, so a sustained attack is the key.
Understand the track lanes
The black line is the lowest line on the track and naturally is the shortest route. The space between the red and black lines is called the pole lane and during the last 200m of a race, once the person in the front has entered the pole lane, they are not allowed to leave it. The highest line on the velodrome is blue. Slower riders should stay on or above the blue line and out of the way of the faster riders.
Go above a crash, never below it
Always remember to go above a crash rather than trying to duck inside it. In the event of a crash, riders will end up at the bottom of the track, so the safest place to head is up while everyone is coming crashing down. Be careful not to take out other riders as you head up the bank.
Picture credit: Pavel L Photo and Video / Shutterstock.com