Sunday saw my first experience of track cycling, at the superb new Sir Chris Hoy velodrome in the east end of Glasgow. This was a club 'taster' session, organised by one of our club members Iain, and had a good turnout of 18 riders. 5 or 6 of the club members were already accredited, so got to ride out straight away in different formations and at a decent speed.
The rest of us got a bit of a talk from the young track coach, rules and such like, before we were allowed to head onto the track. Track bikes are fixed gear, and don't have any brakes, you just use your legs to slow the pedals down, and the first challenge is getting clipped into the pedals and heading off without any embarrassing tumbles!. First up, we rode in a light blue band, known as the Côte d'Azur, basically an entry and exit lane where you can speed up to enter the banking, or where you slow down before getting off.
The first thing you notice is how bloody steep the banking is at either end of the track - 'I'll never get up on that' must go through most folks minds at first, it certainly did in mine. Once you get up to speed though, it's time to get up higher, and then the inevitable overtaking of anyone going slower. When overtaking, you really have to dig in hard as when your going round the outside of someone on the bend, you are going a fair bit further, but the speed gathered at the exit of the banking is very exhilarating. It's physically tough, after 5 minutes, you can feel it, my hamstrings were feeling it, probably due to me not being used to riding in the drops.
So on it went, on and off the track, getting higher and faster each time, until you can ride wherever you want. It is really addictive, if not a little frightening, with the constant thought of how painful a fall at speed would be.
The rule is, if your taster session goes okay, and no one does anything stupid, then you can use it as your first accreditation, of which there are four, before you can ride in the drop in rides, or the race nights. With the first accred done, I'm really keen to get on with the next one, and get some more track time in. It's pretty cheap too, an hour session with bike hire and shoe hire as well was £9. That's great value, hopefully this great venue gets some of the nation off their sofas and on the bike.