As part of my leaving present from work, I was given some money and a cycling book – my colleagues know me well! I decided to spend a little bit of that money and my new found spare time on a weekday trip to the Lee Valley Velopark – better known as the London 2012 velodrome and site of much British sporting success.
With the Olympics having been and gone, the velodrome is now open to all, and priced quite nicely, with a 1 hour taster session costing £30 including bike hire. I decided to pay an additional £6 and hire shoes with Look Keo cleats rather than trainers and toe straps.
We started with a quick safety talk and demonstration of the implications of having a fixed rear wheel. Having clipped in and now hugging the inner fence, we were sent off for a few laps of the flat safety lane to get used to our new, fixed-wheel steeds, remembering the final instruction “Keep pedalling!”
Then it was time for a few laps riding on the blue band at the inner edge of the track, the côte d’azur, before moving on to the track proper. This is the part where it got a little scary. It just does’t seem possible that you can cycle around such a steeply banked, wooden surface. With enough, speed though, it seems to work and before long we were up above the blue, “stayer’s” line and riding right up the track.
We then practised a little overtaking, and then the strongest 8 (myself included!) tried a little pace line around the velodrome, keeping to the stayer’s line. This was quite hard work, and really gave me a bit of a workout too.
Before we knew it, that was the end of our hour session. I elected to be assessed during that session as stage 1 of the 4 stage accreditation programme prior to racing on the track, so I hope got back and complete the next level and be able to attend a few training sessions on the track – no coasting definitely gives the legs a real workout, and I’m sure it can be applicable to triathlon!