Riding in circles

  • Posted by alex
  • 21 February 2012

Over the winter we've watched record-breaking heros racing at the Manchester Velodrome in the Revolution track series.

And since my first visit to watch an event, a certain excitement surrounding track cycling has made me keen to give it a go.

The track at Newport is much the same as the one in Manchester, albeit crowd-less and silent when we turned up for our session yesterday. The silence drew my attention to the steep banks at either end of the track (45° banks, to be precise), which have been the only real niggle in my mind since first realising how steep they are. I have been reassured that if you can ride fast enough to get round on the lines, you're going quick enough to make it round at the boards.

Winding up the fixed gear approaching the first bend, I started to wonder; will my tyres grip at this (low) speed? Will I make it round? Or will I slide down it on my face?

But as the pace picked up all I could concentrate on was keeping on the back wheel of the bike in front, lap after lap, trying to pull into his slipstream and keep a good pace.

Before I knew it, I was flying. The rushing air lapping at my ears while shooting up the bank towards the advertising banners, then timing a descent to glide tidily to the back of the pack for a rest.

When your head is down and your speed is up, you don't worry about being clipped in, or remember you're on a fixed gear bike with no brakes and no freewheel. Fear vanishes and soon all that matters is going faster, catching the bike in front and absorbing every minute, while ignoring burning legs and lungs or anything else telling you to slow down.

We certainly weren't breaking any records, but track cycling is even more exciting to me, now that I've had a go.

Thank you Welsh Cycling - I'm sure we'll be heading back for another fix soon.