Andover Tri Club members Rupert Griffiths and Janet Taplin head off to the Olympic Velopark at Lee Valley to do the Level 1 accreditation for track cycling.
Rupert & Jan decided to mix up their training and increase their cycling experience by starting their track cycling accreditation. There are four sessions to attend to gain full track accreditation, Level 1 being the first. Lee Valley will hire you a bike and any other kit required on the day to do the courses. The Level 1 course with bike hire was a very reasonable £37.00.
We travelled up by train to Waterloo and took the tube & DLR to Stratford International station. This is adjacent to the Westfield shopping centre; we visited the food court for a bowl of pre course pasta. It is only a 10 minute walk to the velopark from the station.
We arrived in good time and had time to watch a group doing their Level 3 course. Sitting in the bleachers at the top of turn two you get a real feel for how steep the banking really is. After changing we made our way to the rack centre to pick up a fixie and to meet the session coach, Big Steve.
After an initial briefing on safety and what the course entailed we headed onto the track. The coach ran through the specifics of a track bike and its characteristics before we moved on to the basics of starting, stopping and track layout. After everyone had mastered the basics without mishap it was on to riding in a line on the cote (the blue strip around the base of the track) and then up to the black line and then the red line, both a little further up the bank.
Next was a lesson in overtaking, basically you don’t change direction without having looked behind and warning the rider ahead to stay before making your move. While we rode round in a line the coach was moving across the track toward the top rail, we were able to practise the move out and move back by going around him while he could check each rider followed the overtaking protocol.
Once Big Steve was happy with everyone’s overtaking we moved on to riding up to the blue line about half way up the bank. A lot more pedalling effort was required on the turns to maintain height. After a few laps we were instructed to move up again to between the blue line and the rail, even more effort on the turns, and finally right up to the top rail. Try not to look down or you will likely steer that way too.
Now the bit we had all been waiting for, a free reign to ride as quick as you like and overtake at will. After what seemed like no time, we were called back in and the hour was over. Everyone attending passed and I personally can’t wait to get back there to do the next level. It was a really positive experience which improved your bike handling kills and awareness of what is around you. I would definitely recommend this even if you have no intention of gaining a full track accreditation.