A triathlete's guide to track cycling
If you want to take your cycling to the next level, the velodrome is a great place to start. And with six indoor tracks now open to the public in the UK, there may be one closer than you think...
Top track tips
Heed the advice of the National Cycling Centre's resident coach, Jeff Winstanley...
Listen to the coach From your first session to when you’re a seasoned trackie, if the coach is speaking you listen and do what they say. If you’re unsure of a drill, ask them to explain it again and join the back of the line so you can see how it works before it’s your turn.
Look The single most important rule on the track is to always look before you move. Whether you’re rolling away from the fence, pulling off from the front of the line or looking to jump on a wheel in a race, look over your shoulder first.
Keep pedalling It’s a fixed gear so you have to keep pedalling, never forget that, especially on the end of a hard effort. You have to be going above a certain speed to stay up on the banking (about 30kmph) so bear that in mind when you’re joining or leaving the track.
Make sure to have a look before making a move on the track
Relax The near 45° banking and close proximity of other riders can initially be unnerving but try to stay relaxed. Look ahead, try to anticipate changes in pace or direction of other riders, ride predictably and make small corrections.
Hold it back Many triathletes come to the track with great fitness but poor skills. It can be tempting just to smash it off the front but you’ll miss out on learning the essential bunch skills and tactics. Ride in the bunch, learn some track craft and save the heroics for when you’ve got a number on.
For your first few taster sessions most tracks will be able to lend you a bike. Make sure you take the following, though...
Helmet There will be hire helmets available but it’s far more pleasant to wear your own. If you’ve got a mountain biking-style peak on it, this will have to be removed.
Glasses It can be hot and dry on a track and especially irritating on the eyes if you wear contact lenses. Glasses are a good idea but with clear or yellow lenses, not dark.
Shoes Most tracks will let you use your own shoes with the hire bikes as long as your cleats are compatible – they won’t let you swap pedals over though. Check before you go and hire if necessary.
Track mitts Tracks mitts are essential and usually compulsory.
Jersey and under vest Most tracks require you to wear two layers on top, usually a regular short-sleeved cycling jersey and a base t-shirt/vest underneath. Sleeveless tops aren’t allowed, so no tri-suits.
Water bottle It’ll be hot so don’t forget your water bottle. There will be somewhere for you to leave it in the track centre.
Bike If the track bug bites and you decide to work though the accreditation process, you’ll want to get your own track bike. With indoor use only, there’s a great second-hand market and many tracks offer on-site bike storage. Before buying, double check the bike standards at your track as most will have rules regarding gearing, crank length, bottom bracket height and tyre type.
Find out where you can try out the track on the next page