Saturday, 13 March 2010

Newport Velodrome Weekend, 6th 7th March 2010

Last weekend I visited Newport Velodrome in Wales. The weekend consisted of two 3 hour track sessions (one Saturday, one Sunday), under the guidance of a British Cycling track coach. On paper this seem like a good idea, indoor training and a weekend away from the wife and kids. However I hadn't done my research. Firstly I had never ridden a fixed gear and secondly I discovered that track bikes don't have brakes.
Now anyone whose been foolish enough to follow my wheel will tell you that my bike handling skills could do with a little refining. Some areas that I need to work on include, cornering, descending, general rider awareness, reacting to hazards and group etiquette. Still, no traffic or pot holes to worry about.
On arrival at the Velodrome we went and looked at the track from the stands. They say that you can never appreciate the steepness of inclines when watching cycling on TV. But viewing the banking from above at either end of the track made my throat feel dry. The track is 250 metres in length, the banking is angled at 47 degrees.
The bike I used was a hired Pinnerello (£7 a day).
On day one our group was split into two groups, those that could, and those that couldn't. I very obviously couldn't.
The coach started very gently, explaining all the basics like how to stop and start without making an arse of yourself and the track rules of the road. Strange rules such as looking over your shoulder before overtaking?!
I learnt about the Cotes De Zur, the sprint line, red line and Blue line. We started of on the ground and slowly crept up the banking. The first day was a little slow but there was a lot to learn. On day 2 I joined the big boys and proudly wore the Thornton colours. My confidence was growing and my grip on the bars was a little looser. The coach had us doing lots a different drills, through and offs, team time trials, flying 200's to name but a few.
Each session was very well structured and continually built upon previous skills learnt. The coach timed us on a flying lap start, and told us that an 11 year old girl could do the lap in 11 seconds. I clocked 14.75. We then did a stamina session. Basically the group riding ever increasing lap times, if you couldn't hold the wheel in front you dropped out. I am pleased to report that the Thornton colours were in the remaining group of 5 at the end, however I nearly got thrown out the saddle as forgot the fixed wheel concept and stopped pedalling at the final whistle.
All in all I was a very enjoyable experience and I'd definitely go again. Hopefully we can abuse the London Olympic Velodrome as a club in the near future, room in the garage for a track bike anyone?
Regards Jim (Diesel) Reeves