Sunday 22 December 2019

Why I like cycling in the velodrome

A few weeks ago I went to the Herne Hill velodrome and took part in one of the Sunday night women's training sessions.

This was endurance training, and that was exactly what I did - endure it. I did enjoy it too, but I had to endure the fact that I didn't have much endurance!

We did various drills that involved us riding at a medium-to-high pace, and attacking off the front of the peloton to chase down riders ahead - like road racing skills.

As I had already been out for a run earlier in the day, I felt a bit too tired to get through all of the drills, but it still didn't stop me from appreciating all this track cycling.

This was my first time track cycling in Herne Hill Velodrome in a long time - maybe 8 years! I think the legendary Mr Herne Hill, Dave Creasy was alive the last time I rode on the circuit. Considering this is a track cycling venue all my recent trips to Herne Hill Velodrome had been do do cyclocross!

Although I was a stranger to the updated systems at Herne Hill, and I had to get used to riding 400m-long laps, track cycling is not alien to me. I was doing sessions at the Manchester Velodrome earlier this year. Also when I was based in Macclesfield, as a member of Manchester Wheelers cycling club I also did regular sessions there.

The thing I like about track cycling is the purity of riding a fixed wheel bike round and round the oval. The bike moves to the rhythm of your pedalling, and you have to keep pedalling and engaging your core in order for the bike to carry on moving.

There is no scope for freewheeling, and any attempt to relax and freewheel sees your feet yanked forward to remind you that the bike needs your attention and direction.

Even though the distances ridden at the velodrome are not a patch on what is done during a club ride, the training effect is huge. Even just 10 laps can get you puffing and panting.

So it's quite a handy way to get in a quality work-out without needing to spend all morning riding through the lanes to get the same training effect.

The same applies for indoor track cyclng, where I feel even more exhilarated on a 250m track with its high banking.

Doing these sessions this year has renewed my love for track cycling, and I think I will be back doing more of that next year.

Also, once I have mustered the fitness to do these drills without needing to leave the track for a breather it will be really beneficial for my cycle racing, I will ride better in the bunch when on the road, and I will naturally ride at a higher pace than the plodding I have become used to doing these days. Plus, it helps my bike handling enormously and I feel so much more in control

I look forward to going to the track after Christmas.

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