Two days and around 20 riders per session, experienced and not, headed to Newport for our first Track day last weekend. It was a great couple of days and everyone went home after mastering the boards and having done a little racing too.
On arrival a few nervous looking riders are starring at the banking, which can look intimidating the first time (or even the umpteenth time!). Bikes are available at the track and Look pedals or clips are the first minor problem. Remember for next time that if you hire a bike they ONLY have Look pedals or toeclips and straps.
Fresh from a day's road racing (!) the girls from Cardiff Ajax have turned up to show us how it's done.
Team Sprint - take 2
We've been here before. Only this time there's seven of us. So seven laps for some unlucky punters. Cardiff Ajax thump us. They are really fast. We are slower than a lawn mower.
Team Pursuit - take 2
Sunday night and only one team in it really. The Cardiff girls show their experience on the boards once more and beat us in the practice run and a full 4000 metre final. We thought we were going so well too! We even change a few riders over this time and we still can't beat them. I consider selling my bike and taking up darts.
Sprint training follows... ouch
Early Monday morning and we start where we left off the day before. This beats a day in the office. There's a few tired legs in the RCUK camp and those who stayed over need a few laps to get going again. Plenty of novice riders today, but they are up and running in no time.
Out comes the motorbike and some speed training follows, including some impressive sprinting by Lee Povey and some very unimpressive sprinting from your's truly.
Everyone has a go behind the bike as Courtney zooms around at 30mph+ I'm really impressed with all the riders as this is a skill that is usually saved until the riders are far more experienced.
Team Pursuit - take 3
This is more like it. Team selections from RCUK editor go well for once and not a Ajax rider in sight. Hannah (rival team captain) picks my brother (I paid him to ride slowly) and I mix experience with fire power, and threaten to shout at Rebecca if she doen't pull harder this time.
They have Courtney as coach and we have Shifty. He suggests how to get the best out of the push off and we're away to a good start. It's actually getting quite competitive now...
After several team sprints and a couple of pursuits we won 5-0... Shame we have to go home.
The session on Sunday was amazing. This was the first time me and my friends had been on a track. We went from nervous to "get me up that bank" in under an hour. The instruction was first class with an initial emphasis on safety & then go get the bike in front of you! Many thanks to you guys for the invite, look forward to seeing you all again soon.
The thing that impressed me most was that such a magnificent facility was available to a duffer like me. I imagine that most people who throw a leg over a bike would love to fly around a track behind a derny, but assume that it is beyond them.
I ride most UK endurance mountain bike events and thousands of people turn up to all of them. It is just as easy to participate in track riding, but I don't think the message is out there. With a few phone calls I have pulled together a group of eight who want to have a go. We will be at Newport in the next few weeks. Thanks again for a great day.
Yes my legs still hurt and we got up to 47mph!! - was great fun thanks for organising it! It was also funny to be part of a ladies team pursuit squad!
Anita Palfery Having watched the Olympics I have always looked in awe at the track cyclists, their sheer speed, power and skill, personally I enjoy all cycling disciplines’ though currently focus on mountain biking competitively, however the chance to try anything new on two wheels is always for me.
I have to admit, the idea of fixed wheel and no brakes was scary, and so was the steepness of the track when I saw it for the first time. We were coached by Courtney Rowe and he was absolutely brilliant and from the moment I got on the bike he made me feel confident in my own ability and I would be fine if I followed his instruction, so long as I remembered to keep pedaling I was fine. By the end of the 4 hour session I was riding in a group in a pursuit race and although by no means an expert I felt I was in control and knew what I was doing, I was planning when I could go again, the thrill of the speed and power you can achieve is amazing, this is definitely something any cycling enthusiast should try.. ideally under Courtney’s excellent coaching.
Meant to send you a message yesterday to say thanks so much for organising the event and that i had such a good day - it was a really positive experience for me and for the first time it clicked.
One thing that might be worth mentioning for future events is the 'look cleats' thing if you are hiring a bike (you may have done this but i just didn't read it)! Oh, and giving directions - it's the hardest place in the world to find!!
The main thing was that i really enjoyed being with the group of people and getting confidence. I was worried that the session would be too long - but it flew past. I feel i gained so much experience and can't wait to ride again (so i've managed to get in for another team's event on Sat)!
I can imagine that it might have been harder if there were people who weren't as confident as each other - but it was really very enjoyable. One last thing - when's the next one??? I've been going on about it all day and night, so now others want a go!
Courtney Rowe and 'Shifty'
Courtney works full time at the track. He's a fully qualified coach, although he's certainly not the shouty old skool type. He's very friendly and keen to get everyone having a go as soon as possible. First up he explains clearly and simply what's required to get onto the track. Safety is paramount. Non-trackies were quickly riding around the 'Cote d'Azur' (the blue non-banked bit at the base of the track) and after a few laps they made it onto the boards proper. He was especially impressed with the Girls and said that they certainly should do more, a few of them should definitely have a crack at racing too, as soon as possible.
Newport is in Wales, just the other side of the Severn Bridge approximately 3 hours from London and easy to find from Junction 24 of the M4.
There are drop-in sessions throughout the week at Newport and, unlike Manchester, plenty of opportunity to hire out the track for a morning. It's basically the same track as Manchester but a lot less busy, so getting onto the track isn't as much of a problem. You could always have a great couple of days riding locally, with perhaps some Mountain Biking at Cwm Carn which is literally minutes away. The road riding is good too so why not make a week of it!
We are looking at the dates and the next session will be in April sometime. Please let us know if you want to come.
Wales National Velodrome
Newport International Sport Village
Telephone: (01633) 656 757
Loads of pictures to follow...