Ed's on track for success

Jan 18, 2014
Posted by: stu
Category: Blog
In December 2013 Ed completed a structured track cycling accreditation course at the Sir Chris Hoy arena in Glasgow. Here's his story:

Accreditation means I can now take part in drop-in and planned sprint or endurance sessions on the track which previously I was unable to do so.

My work takes me to either London or Glasgow each week and having spent a number of years living and working in Glasgow, I know the city fairly well and there is currently a lot investment in sporting venues for the Commonwealth games. One completed venue is the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in the East End which is part of the Emirates Arena, for those familiar with Glasgow its literally across the road from Celtic Park. Access is easy from the City Centre and the Motorways, there is also cycle lane from the City Centre along London Road. On one visit, Celtic were hosting AC Milan in the Champions League but it was still very easy to get to on public transport. I believe the arena will host not only cycling but also gymnastics during the Commonwealth games.

The set up is very similar to that of Manchester for those who went on the clubs trip a few years back, fixed gear Dolan hire bikes with Look Keo peddles are the order of the day. The first 2 sessions cost around £10 each including the bike and shoe hire for the hour, the final 2 sessions were £25. The track itself is 250m long with slightly steeper banking than I remember at Manchester. 

The course consisted of four accreditation parts, each more difficult than the previous where skills acquired are then put to the test in the final assessed session which includes a series of track races and other disciplines. Sessions 1 and 2 were primarily for getting used to the setup of the bike slowing down, passing safely and riding the fixed gear which I think it was around 78 inch. For those who ride fairly regularly there was nothing new except the fixed gear and lack of brakes, the attendees ranged from local club riders along to some folks I chatted to later who just fancied a go at riding on a track but did not own road bikes. 

Sessions 3 and 4 were the most fun. Session 3 was essentially learning how to control speed and pass in a slalom along the blue line at speed. This had its fair share of spills including a guy who crashed at speed in front of me at the top of the banking. The guys rash from the track made me slow down and be more careful for the rest of the hour although the coaches were concerned about the track more than anything else, it is about the bike after all! The most difficult skill was learning to stack, this essentially was four riders going round the track together in stack rather than a line, a lot more difficult than it sounds as the guy at the top needed to slow down coming off the banking while the guy on the bottom of the track would need to speed up going into the banking so the top guy had enough speed. If you don't get this right, the guy at the top will fall and take the rest of the riders with him, hence the name stack. Those in the middle had to maintain speed also so a lot of communication and team work is needed. The group I was in pretty much cracked it after 4 or 5 laps but others were not so lucky and again more spills and track rash. 

Session 4 included a lot of stacking and slalom passing but the most fun was the racing. There were three races, the first was the scratch race over 25 laps where we were encouraged to stay in a bunch for 20 laps until the bell. I wanted to stay out of trouble so spent 23 laps on the front eventually finishing fourth. The coaches had a quiet word with me later about that as others should have made an effort to take on some of the work. With my telling off in mind, the second race was the elimination race where the final rider is eliminated on each lap until the last 2 and it basically an all out sprint. I let others do the work until the bell started for the race to begin and while I was chatting to a guy at the back of the bunch about his shoes I was eliminated on the first lap as I didn't hear the bell at all! In the final race I was determined to pay attention, the points race is over 25 laps, with the bell sounding at 21, 16, 11, 6, and 1 to go, with the top 4 riders on each of the sprint laps given points. I was in the points in all 5 laps so I claimed victory as I won at least 2 having taken a lap toward the end as most people were still recovering from the elimination race.

There are four indoor velodromes where I can now ride with the fifth, London, opening in March 2014 when I believe a fully approved national accreditation will be rolled out allowing riders from around the UK to use any of the velodromes. Glasgow will close to the public soon due to the Commonwealth games but I am planning on taking accreditation 4 again in January 2014 to practice my skills and attending drop-in sessions before moving on to a new rider track league once London opens in March.





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