A Guide to Track
Welcome to a sport involving bikes with no gears or brakes, fantastic speeds and some
seriously steep banking. Contrary to the belief among some that track racing is an utterly terrifying
experience altogether, it really is a great side of cycling to master - and nowhere near as hard as you may
Track cycling can all be a bit daunting on
first impressions and it’s not helped by all the myths surrounding the sport. There are all sorts of common fears
associated with this discipline like pedalling too slowly and taking a long slide down the banking, forgetting to
pedal all together (which with a fixed wheel isn’t the best idea!) or getting dizzy after going round in all those
circles. But, turn up at a velodrome and you’ll have plenty of seasoned ‘trackies’ around to convince you that
riding the boards is ‘just like riding a bike!’
Track bikes have a single fixed gear and no
freewheel mechanism like other bikes, so you have to remember to keep pedalling at all times. However you quickly
get used to it and even if you do forget you'll probably only get a slight kick which will remind you to swiftly
start pedalling again! The use of a fixed wheel and the banking will allow you to speed up and slow down
effectively without breaks. When riders are tightly packed together in a race environment it would be dangerous to
start slamming on breaks so, instead, easing off on the pedals or moving up the track will subtly decrease your
speed and allow you to ride closely to the wheels of other riders.
One thing that is noticeable about track
riders is their smooth pedalling action and their tendency to adopt a high cadence. When you’ve only got one gear
available, it’s most sensible to use a fairly small gear that you can accelerate quickly rather than a big gear
that is slow to accelerate but more efficient aerobically.
There are various outdoor tracks dotted around the country, all with varying lengths
and gradients of banking, view a full list here.
Throughout the summer there are various racing leagues and training sessions held at these. The main three
indoor tracks are located in Newport, Manchester and Calshot.
Obviously very few people are willing to
invest in a dedicated track bike just for a taster session so most tracks have a fleet of track bikes for beginners
to use. They’ll normally come with clips and straps on the pedals but most tracks are happy for riders to bring
their own pedals. There are plenty of opportunities to drop in and have a go all year