"1. Don't crash.
2. Be in the front third"
Mike and I headed up to Manchester Velodrome at the weekend to watch our track team race in the Revolution Series.
Standing trackside we listened in on the team briefing for the evening -
"1. Don't crash. 2. Be in the front third" Team manager Kyleigh tells everyone. You can't win from the back and that's where the crashes happen. It sounds simple enough, but with steep bankings and wheels nipping at the rider's tyres in front, anything can happen. It's what makes track cycling so exciting.
A gentle hum from rollers set a tone for the evening. Riders spend longer warming up and cooling down than they do racing, occasionally turning the roller-hum to thunder as legs went into a sprints to stay warm and race-ready.
The team love racing in front of such a big crowd - especially the juniors. Normally, track events aren't as well attended, but at Revolution, the deafening cheers from the stands will on aching legs and make for a great atmosphere.
Between races everyone fettles their bikes; swapping sprockets to change gearing and fixing punctures. Everyone has their own spare wheels, cogs and tools - some borrowed, some hand-me-down - all tidily stowed in the tiny team pit.
A crash in the boys final race called for Dust Busters and gaffa tape to take up splinters and plug gaps in the track. Pringled wheels are swapped for true and grazed knees stay on for the last few laps. Even a crash wouldn't stop the guys from getting back on their bikes and everyone finishing the night on a high.
Mike captured a bit of video and we'll be doing little film about the team and the event which we will release at the end of the series.
In the meantime, you can watch highlights of howies in action on ITV4 Player and the team will be back on the track 1st December for Revolution meet 2.