I’ve wanted to try track cycling for a while and finally got the chance last weekend at the Forest City Velodrome in London. If you’ve been there you know how much fun it is. If you haven’t, it’s time to make the two hour drive to London to give it a try.
The track is in the arena just off the 401 where the local junior hockey team used to play. When the team moved to a new arena downtown, many rows of seats and the boards came out and the track went in. Given the space, the banking in the corners is at a 50 degree angle. Standing on the ground at the apex of the corner and looking up, the track seems almost like a wall. It feels strange at first to ride through the corners sideways, but after a few laps this seems surprisingly normal.
The learn-to-ride “Track 1” class lasts two hours, followed by a third hour of skills and drills. The instructor explained that the intro session is designed for people who don’t necessarily ride. But since the 12 of us that day were all experienced riders, he was able to take us through the class much more quickly than normal. After a couple of introductory turns on the infield and apron to get used to the fixed gear bikes, we were running a whole range of drills at increasing speeds that got us using all the different parts of the track. One involved climbing gradually toward the outside of the track on the approach to the turn, cornering mid-way up the track and then suddenly dropping back down to the inside just after the apex. Another had us taking the straightaway on the outside, dropping at the entry to the turn and then pushing the bike up and outward again on the turn’s exit, ready for the next straightaway. Sprint laps out of the saddle left my legs burning. The wildest feeling of the session was when I cornered above the blue line, looked to my left (effectively straight down toward the ground!) and watched five riders pass beneath me along the inner black line. All in all, it was a fantastic outing. I’m already planning our next family trip to London around when I can get into the “Track 2” session.
I don’t know if other BCC’ers are interested in trying track cycling, but I’d be happy to help organize something for a group if there’s interest. “Track 1” sessions are on Saturdays from 12-3. The sessions book up several weeks in advance, so we’d have to get organized soon for a date in March assuming that people want to do this before the outdoor season gets into full swing. If we book early enough and have enough people we can reserve a session entirely for ourselves. For only $30 (this includes the bike rental fee), it’s a great deal. Just bring your shoes, pedals and helmet. You’re sure to have a blast.
Video to follow...