Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Velodrome 101

Going riding on a velodrome for the first time? My advice? Stay high at first and go faster, not slower. You'll gain confidence as each lap unfolds and you'll keep out of harm's way. Slow is scary at first on a track bike, especially on a steep track. Check local rules, but generally the really fast lane is low down and you don't want to get in a fast rider's way... so stay high but cruise fast enough that you don't risk touching a pedal down on the banking.

As for the painted lines and stuff...obviously we have black and white start/finish lines. We also have markings (usually red lines, perpendicular to the track) for the common pursuit and time trial distances. Distances are also marked out on the side of the track. The flat, often blue-painted zone right at the bottom of the track is the duckboard. It can be absent, or it can be plain concrete (ie not blue at all). Some people refer to it as "the blue" or the "Cote d'Azure", but it's really not a place to take a holiday. It's not for race riding either, although you may use it to come off the track after a slow down lap and you cross it to get on the track. In time trials and pursuits long sponges (not your conniving relatives, I mean foam rubber sponges) are placed across the duckboard to discourage short cuts. You can often get away with a short cut in a scratch race though when diving underneath a slower rider (but it's not encouraged and if attempted during a sprint will almost certainly incur a disqualification). There can be a nasty edge rather than a smooth transition from duckboard to track, too so keep away - it can get a bit hairy if you get stuck in that transition zone, especially if you are on the duckboard at speed and try to get onto the banking before a turn. It's a good way to fall and bring down the pack. Read more...

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