12 posts • Page 1 of 1
I would have to describe myself as a born again cyclist (used to play a lot of hockey until a leg injury forced me to sit on the couch for a few years and eat!!). I came back to cycling about 15 months ago and have moved from a flat bar to a road bike recently.
Anyway, when out riding with my husband, he always makes me look like I'm standing still when we get near a hill, but I can often beat him in a sprint. Figure this has to do with him being very lean and me being build like the proverbial brick shouse. It doesn't matter what I do, I'm one of those people who can add muscle bulk easily.
Anyway, with this body type in mind, and my love of a sprint, my husband is buying me some track time for my bithday as I've always said I would love to try it.
So, sometime in the next few weeks, we'll head down and see what is happening. Before we go, can anyone give me any hints and tips as to the differences in riding a track bike? All I know is no gears no breaks shorter cranks.
Any advice welcomed. And yes, I have a fair idea I may get hooked!!
Basic track riding is easy, and it'll be explained as they plonk you on their bike and aim you out onto the track.
Fixed gear - while the wheels are rotating, so are the pedals. They'll strap your feet onto the pedals (or clip them) with the bike stationary and you holding onto the fence or something solid (like a nervous husband), so this isn't scary. A push off and you're riding.
Once you've got some speed up, it's easy to keep rolling. Thing is though, you're used to a freewheel and as soon as you try to coast, the pedal moving up will give that leg a shove - feels like you've hit an ejector seat button but it isn't scary or dangerous, it'll just give you a fright and, if you're normal, this'll happen a couple of times on your first ride, especially as you start to get tired. All part of the fun.
Stopping. Just take the power out of your pedalling and let the bike slow down. As a pedal goes over the top of its stroke, you can use your thighs to put a little bit of back pressure on the pedals to slow you down even more. Don't forget, a velodrome is also banked so as you approach your stopping point, aim up the slope to the fence and gravity will help again. As the bike is about to stop, grab the fence (not too early or the fence will try to disappear behind you).
The thing about the track is that everyone is going the same way and no-one has brakes - they are forbidden. This means that you will never have to do an emergency stop - if someone falls, you just ride around them and no-one can do a sudden stop or suddenly slow down in front of you.
It's all a lot easier than it sounds, and its fun.
Riding a fixie on the track is sheer smoothness. The legs rotate. The bike moves. Everyone else blasts past you like you're standing still (or in my case, the ratbag son tucks onto your rear wheel and then wonders why you're puffing and he isn't). It's fun.
So, when are you going to buy an old road bike and convert it to a fixie for the road?
Or go directly over them and plant it yourself.
From what I've seen and heard, stacks on the track is no rarer than on the road. One aspect of it is that track riding is so fast, any crash can be as serious as any road crash.
So don't let your guard down. Take care.
What Richard said with knobs on.
Make sure you get some instruction when you get there because it is very different to road riding. Don't stand at the top of the bend and look down before you start. It may put you off.
I've done a bit of track work and I still forget I'm on a fixed gear bike.
I find it especially hard after crossing the finish line because after pushing hard the first thing I want to do is free wheel.
First timed ride I crossed the finish line over 40km/h and had my left foot slip out of the strap. I quickly pulled the right out so I was at least balanced and continued around the track with my feet off the pedals and up in the air.
But don't let my mishap put you off, I really is quite enjoyable. Take your time and learn the basics.
My local velodrome is around a cricket oval - it's a 500m course (roughly) and quite a bit flatter than the shorter, indoor tracks and hence the slopes aren't quite as scary. It's also a local sports field, so it's always open. My son and I have used it for training rides on our road bikes - flat, even, no stopping and starting, you can dial in your heart rate to perfection and just cruise - great for recovery rides or interval training (not that I've done any of that yet). The other day, I took the Europa there for her first run around the track thinking it'd make a great recovery ride, but found that the gearing is a tad high and I worked a harder than I'd wanted to (my legs were still sore from a big ride the day before). Funny thing is, although I worked harder than I wanted to and felt tired during the ride, I felt good afterwards, probably because my effort was reasonably even and I didn't get those spikes in effort that can generate lactic acid so quickly, so it's definitely something I'll do again.
Another good thing about track riding is the cost - you can get a good second hand bike for about $500 (or a brand new Hillbrink for $900) and when you're done with it, will be able to sell it for about the same - basically costless apart from licenses, entry fees and consumables and considering that there are no gears, no brakes, no cables and the chain gets an easier life than a multigeared bike, track riding doesn't have to be expensive ... but like everything, it can be if you let it (I was looking at a set of handlebars the other day that retail for over a grand )
new toys, doncha luvem
Thanks for this advice guys. I must admit, it does look kinda scary from the comfort of my armchair!! Perth has an indoor wooden track and I'm sure the sides are banked at an incredible angle so I will definitely be taking as much instruction as the guys are willing to give.
I certainly don't want to stack it - I have a serious aversion to leaking any red stuff. If I'm going to get into track sprinting, I'll plan to leave my mark with a great time, not half a leg!!
No doubt I will keep you posted.
Sorry, you've told us you're doing it so if we don't get progress reports, we'll haunt you
Just got back from a spell at the velodrome. My son was riding his Gitanes (freshly converted to a track bike) and it got the thumbs up from him. So far, the conversion has cost me $35 for a track cog, $10 for a chain and $2 for some axle spacers. Mind you, the commissairs might say he can't race it, but it'll be fine for private training. Because it's a road frame, the centre bracket is low and while it's fine on our large velodrome (with it's low banking), his pedals will strike or come close to striking on an indoor track.
Just looking at my log, I haven't ridden my Trek since last weekend - be interesting to see what it's like riding a bike with freewheels again after all the time on the fixie.
Richard, providing the road frame has no dangerous protrusions (eg any sharp edged braze ons, d/tube derailleur bosses etc are usually ok), then it will be legal for the track.
BB height is unlikely to be a problem at Edwardstown and at the Superdome it may not be. Depending on whether your son has 165 or 170mm cranks and clipless (usually better clearance) vs toeclips and straps can make a bid difference on a roadframe.
I've ridden what is reputably the countries smallest and steepest banked track - Muswellbrook at 165m and 50 degree banking on an old British Falcon road frame - the same frame that is now my fixie training bike.
Just popped out and measured the bottom bracket height of this frame on it's current 28C tires, it's 11" or 28 cm from ground to centre of BB spindle. It would have been 10.87" or 27.6 cm on 20C tyres on the track. Crank length is/was 171mm ( old Sugino 6.3/4") with toeclips and straps on MKS pedals. As a comparison my Guerciotti track bike with 20C Continental tyres/170mm Sugino cranks/clipless pedals has a BB height of 10.63" or 27.0cm and that was designed for any velodrome in the world.
The reason for the high bottom bracket on the Falcon was because of the up until the late 1970's British habit of using fixed gear for road time trials and general club riding - the same reason I use the frame as a fixie now.
Last edited by 531db on Fri Jan 12, 2007 9:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Don't be scared. If your instructors are any good they'll take two weeks to get you to the black line. As Richard said your first lesson will be starting and learning how to slow using the pedals.
It'll take a few more weeks to get used to even half way up the track. So far my only excursions high on the track have been when dropping of the front using the bank as a brake.
There's a lot to learn grasshopper and it's worth taking the time to learn it all at your own pace.
Just take it easy the first few times you are out on the track bike, so to get a feel and you will be fine. Like anything new, you need to learn and adjust. Don't worry about the banking, you will be use to it in no time at all.
Hill climbing is all about power to weight ratio. A great way to improve yourself is to ride on a hilly route taking it easy and then when you get to the hill, ride as hard as you can up the hill, not worring about saving anything for afterwards, then take it easy to the next hill.
A helmet saved my life
Power to weight ratio huh? I can easily control my two Great Danes on leads when they are trying to chase a cat so that means I either have the power...or the weight!!
I lost 23kg last year just riding, and have more to go - you would have thought that would make hills easier!! I think I go up them faster now, but am still buggered at the top. New road bike has given new lease of life though so getting faster all the time.
With all this support on venturing to the track, I can't wait to get there and then let you guys know all about it. I think I have to wait a few weeks for my official birthday before I can use the present though.
You will always find yourself buggered at the top of hills as its hard work getting to the top.
What you will find is that with training you will get to the top faster and and your recovery time will decrease.
It never really gets easier as we all tend to push ourselves to our limit.
12 posts • Page 1 of 1
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