Sunday, 31 January 2010

Velodrome; Second Home?

Maybe I should have called this one Velodrome Madness as I spent a total of 5 hrs here today with 3 actually on the track.

Read on CycleChat website that Man City were playing at home 1.30pm, so set off to arrive for 12. Traffic was fine and once arrived just sat in the 'D' watching the taster session and hiding in the corner. The instructor was having a hard time with a handful of girlies whom never even went on the actual track and just stayed on the dark blue area. A few of them fell off and got laughed at but I did feel sorry for them. I don't think they had ridden a bike for a long time if at all. By 11.30 quite a few 'chatters' had turned up and fetched their bikes so I went to find mine but it wasn't there. I had to hunt down the organiser 'Dan' who told me to ask at reception as he ordered me a 56. Paid my £9.60 for 2hrs hire but none of my sized bikes were available so had to wait for the taster to finish. I got changed with 10mins to go and there were about 26 of us altogether which surprised me. I think one guy came from Suffolk somewhere!!
Managed to get a size 53 bike and started the warmup with the gang. Whilst going slow I seemed to power past everyone by using my super pedal motion with big upstroke which seems to take very little energy. I went on the tops and not the drops to show this and the relatively slow warmup pedalling suits my style. A few minutes later I upped the pace and raced around. Now after the warmup we got called in, strange I thought as I figured we would just ride in circles for a couple of hours but Dan had requested a coach to put us through our paces and do a few skills too.
First exercise was interval sprints where we leathered it for 10seconds, 10 seconds rest times5. A couple of minutes rest later this was repeated but standing up too. I didn't go flat out - close enough though, I think that was the idea as I always like to save a little or a lot in this case. The standing sprints were great but on the first one I went high on the banking, trying to be good and had to sit down after 5 seconds because going down the banking my little legs couldn't pedal quick enough for the speed I was going at - its that bloody gearing. Wasn't trying that one again and did the rest on the bottom of the track. Even on the 10 seconds rest it looked like I was going quick but I assure you I was taking it easy and the instructor told me to use the rest time for rest....I was!!
Next up was to follow an instructor who waved up and down the banking all the way up and all the way down and everything in between. It was to show us the unpredictable nature of racing and that we should aim to go high if we spot an accident up ahead because apparently our heads tell us to go down and under the line. This is where I could get knocked off too I guess. We had 3 groups of 8 and was a little bit of a farce but entertaining too and I had to be concentrating fully on what was going on ahead. The instructor went to the top of the banking a lot of times and many there were not comfortable with this so the line went all over the place with people dropping back, dropping down but not dropping out. I do think they were being asked too much of as it is only recently that I feel comfortable on the top railings and that's with hours of practice and I dont think most had that experience. At least nobody fell...that I know of.
The final tuition was like a team pursuit but everyone started in a long line, on the blue line and when a whistle was blown the first 4 would break off to the black line, change over every half lap and get to the back of the main line as quick as possible. Repeat a lot of times. Best bit I'd say.
Before the warm.down we had a 250m sprint - semi rolling. We'd start 10m before the start line and then do one lap. I went off 16th, behind Trio, got a good enough start but once again couldn't put my power down on the flat ( if you read my blog its a problem I keep having) The standing up bit was fine to the first corner but ran out of gearing to keep it that way. As I pedal quicker the less effect of my powerful upstroke until it is non-existant and I tend to use only a down stroke. I felt fresh afterwards and could have immediately gone again unlike the debacle on the Watt bike last weekend. I managed a 19.5 seconds, the winner got 18.25 or close to, some skinny legged whippet who can pedal fast on a crap gear :)
The final warm down I did a few sprints on my own. It was a great 2hr session which I could do every week and has increased my appetite for more track action.

5-6 I had my first Taster Improver session. I had no idea what was going to happen. It turns out they are nothing like the taster sessions which are very basic. They are really concentrating on knowing the many skills required to do the Structured Quality Training sessions. I had never done any of these skills before and was quite nervous.

1. Riding in a line, close and next to another line. We started off in one line riding on the black and the even numbered lot would drop out up to the red line and the 2 lines would ride side by side. There were a few kids, very young and although they had done it before they seemed out of their depth as some didn't know what an even number was. Great start. Schools these days hey! I thought I'd give them the benefit of the doubt for now.

2. Whilst riding side by side the front 2 would pull up beyond the blue line together and rejoin the back of the line. Sounds tricky and it was when you have kids on the front slowing down when they are pulling away so that the person behind has to pedal back to slow down as their wheels are going to collide causing the rest in the line to follow suit and nearly cause another collision. I shouted to speed up as they were easing off several times. The instructor told me to shutup. Arghghghgh. I dont know how they progressed beyond the taster as thier line riding is terrible. No where near the wheel in front, very inconsistant speeds and plain annoying. I signalled to the coach as if to say what am i supposed to do and he acknowledged me.

3. Same as above but start above the blue line and move out towards railing. Seem to be improving.

4. Someone called it a 'box move' 2 lines again but the higher line remains at a relatively slow constant speed and the inner line moves forward faster and the front guy joins the front of the higher line. The next guy in the lower line does the same always making sure it is safe to move up. At the back the last guy on the higher line drops to the lower line as the lower line progresses further forward. Get it?

Very good until the kids disrupt everything by going too slow on an already slow train. They'd move up when its not safe to do so forcing the the guys in the higher lines to take evasive action. One of the guys became unclipped and I was at the back, he went all over the show and I went high to the railings and stayed there until he left ( amazingly he didn't fall off) Instructor said why I did't go underneath, I said because I got taught not to 2 hrs earlier and he made a point to the others to go up like I did when something goes wrong if at the back. The kids got another telling off for looking around to see what had happened, slowing down AGAIN, forcing others to take evasive measures. They should have carried on regardless when at the front. There I am barking my orders again at everyone trying to be helpful,keeping order, being a team player as I thought that's the aim of the game.

On a side note I am usually very quiet but when it comes to team games like footie/waterpolo I am the loudest and most vocal player on the pitch. You would never believe it meeting me face to face. I am a totally different person.

5. Safely leaving the track. 2 lines again but the higher line when instructed would stay higher and not drop to the lower line whilst the lower line went forward to join the higher line so everyone ended up on the higher line. Simple. Obviously not. It started off good until the kid infront of me got to the front of the lower line and he was supposed to move up but stayed on the lower line. I really shouted at him ' WHAT ARE YOU DOING!! MOVE UP' he turned around and I repeated the message. He stayed on the lower line and everyone came in. The instructor told him how dangerous it was not to listen to instructions and if he didn't understand to ask and ask until he did. No accreditation for you my dear.

I hadn't done any of the skills before and even got the instructor to act out the moves off the bikes. So when I get huffs and puffs from these kids who make major screw ups, all of them did, I feel like kicking their heads in. So did everyone else apart from their parents who were riding with them. Surprised I didn't get an earful from them :)

6. Italian pursuit. Had to start by holding onto the rail on the straight which I found nerve wrecking as you had to go slow. So once stopped in a line, a team either side, we sprint off to the black line and after 1 lap the leader drops off to the blue line and eases off whilst the rest of the team carries on sprinting. After another lap the same happens until the last guy sprints for the line on his own. It went very smoothly.

Afterwards the kids need to get a report filled out and it was funny listening to what the instructor was telling them, basically everything I had mentioned. I was told to come to more taster improver sessions to get more confidence. Now knowing what is expected from me I should progress fairly soon.
I got to watch one of the SQT sessions afterwards and its mad watching the 40 riders all jostling for position without touching or causing trouble.
I might have decided against getting road wheels as my next purchase and think a track bike with gearing to suit me could be the order of the day.


  1. A track bike....I can but dream!

    I did my accredation last year, hard work but good fun. I was bored with tasters but like the cyclechat sessions, what we do depends on the coach we get though.

  2. Ooow a new bike.

    I hate riding in line with a load of people I don't know. You just know somethings going to go wrong. Espeshially when people start speeding up and slowing down at will.