Thursday 24 May 2007

Why I like Track Cycling

I feel so much fresher knowing that I don't have to race. I'll just ride my bike when I like, how I like and with who I like. I feel really free, especially given that I'm not part of a team that's counting on me to do specific races.

Funny that, just when you feel free and under no obligation to race, what do you do ? You race. So yesterday, I dashed out of work promptly to get to Herne Hill for 7pm, where they were holding the track omnium league.

There's something quite refeshing about track cycling. I don't know exactly what, but I do enjoy and find it quite unthreatening. I know alot of uninitiated track cyclists find the whole no brakes, no gears, fixed wheel thing a bit daunting. But once you've done your initiation session (on any Saturday morning between 9 and 10.30am) you wonder what the fuss was about and you actually get to enjoy it.

It's a much less complicated affair than road cycling and road racing.

The bikes are fairly simple. No gears or deraillers to worry about, very low maintenance. When bunch riding you don't get people suddenly slamming on the brakes as you might get on a club run on the road.

During a race if you get dropped you can just wait a minute or so before the bunch comes round and you can tuck in at the back.
If you get tired you can just ride up high on the banking and slow pedal round while you recuperate. None of this business of being dropped from the bunch and then having to pedal miles on your own as I have had in road races !
And the races aren't that long either. Sometimes it's just a couple of laps. Alot of the time it's not more than 20 laps (4km at Herne Hill). So if you're having a bad moment you are comforted that it won't last long !

So I suppose all those reasons made me turn up and race. I use that in the very lose term of the word. I just rode around at speed ! Most of the time I wasn't in the race. But I still got something out of it - learning more about bike handling, riding at high cadence and giving myself a more interesting work-out than if I'd stayed home and gone on the turbo-trainer.

I also got to meet other girl bikers who were pretty friendly, and encouraging. Hanna from the Agisko Viner team gave me a lecture on how I should stick with it, and by coming back regularly I will make progress. Obvious stuff, but it's good to have someone tell you. So I'll be back at Herne Hill Velodrome on Monday to do the Brixton Cycles Omnium. I know I won't win anything, but I'm sure it will be fun !

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