Where do you head when the weather is the amazing for a lovely long bike ride? Obviously indoors to a wooden track to ride a bike with no brakes or gears. This weekend I went to Newport Velodrome with Kingston Wheelers for a spot of track cycling, 4 hour session on saturday and 3 hours on sunday. I have wanted to try track cycling for a while. It is a completely different to road cycling. Apparently it is safer than road cycling as no one is going to brake suddenly in front of you, but given my history anything is possible.
There is a beauty in the simplicity of a track bike, there are no gear, no brakes just a chain connecting the pedals to the back wheel. If you want to go faster you pedal faster, if you want to go slower, you slow your legs down, but whatever you do don’t stop pedalling. I texted a friend Gemma who helpfully pointed out there is no were to hide on a track, there are no descents for the legs to recover, no change of environment, little room for errors in judgement. If you aren’t moving fast enough whilst you are on the banks you will slide down.
Watching track cycling on TV does it no justice. Track cycling is something that must be experienced to be better understood. You have to stand at the bottom of the banks to see just how steep they are. You have to hear and feel the track vibrate. You have to experience that knot in your stomach as you go around the banking for the first time convinced that you are going to come off. Have to experience what happens when you attempt to stop pedalling – I did it twice and it hurts. Experience trying to slow down by resisting the pedals. Experience the unexpected wind that you generate by cycling around the velodrome. Sitting watching TV doesn’t give you an undestanding of the skill and precision required just to keep the bike moving let alone race and think strategies.
Why have I entitled this blog post vicious cycles? Early on during the Saturday session I had a phase when I was trying to catch up (but was just getting further behind) and my mood was getting darker and darker. I had a lot of negative thoughts, that I wasn’t fit enough, that I wasn’t pushing hard enough, that I was making excuses as to why I couldn’t hold anyone’s wheel. I slowly managed to shake it, I tried to just relax and enjoy the experience, I wasn’t going to get magically fitter. After the warm up on the Sunday I decided that I had had enough and decided to quit whilst I was ahead. I could feel myself getting tired and not going fast enough around the bends and would rather stop there than come off and injure myself.
Despite the moments of hating it I really enjoyed the experience, I have bored my colleagues about it. I always have moments when I hate the bike and just feel in a mood. I want to try it again when I am have more bike handling skills and greater fitness. If you are ever tempted to give a go do it!