I come over all velodramatic

October 15, 2013 at 8:10 pm | Posted in cycling | 1 Comment
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I was sad to miss the Ashton Hoyle CSP CX, as we had such a terrific time last year, but a wet Sunday saw me heading off to the nice dry velodrome with @1fishonabike for a British Cycling women-only Rider Development session.

This was my fifth time riding the Hallowed Boards™. I’m not sure why I felt so scared. Absolutely ready to cry, leave, be sick, or possibly all three. Maybe it was getting to reception and realising the session really WAS three hours long, and it wasn’t a misprint as we’d been assuming.

velodrome fear tweet

But we were there, with our kit on and our hire bikes and our silver shoes, and hordes of people a LOT younger than us were whizzing round the boards, so sloping off wasn’t really an option. We fortified ourselves with flapjack and hoped for the best.

Coach appeared, looking like a ginger David Cassidy, and talked us through the afternoon. Our group were sharing the track with another group, so we had 15 mins on the boards, then a break, then another 15 mins, and so on. He had a detailed plan and moved us through a set of activities, building our confidence and skills.


Your coach for today

We warmed up with a few laps and tried to get out of the saddle. (HEEEELP.) (I did it eventually, though*.) The rest was pair work, riding side by side. We practised changing position so the person on the outside was on the inside, and back again; we rode low down on the track then high up; we moved up and down the boards (ride round by the handrail** then SWOOOOP down to the bottom trying to stay next to each other***, then up again); we rode closely behind another pair, changing positions so the front pair was at the back and vice versa. Then at the end, because ‘you’re not looking tired enough’, we rode in pairs up above the blue line and waited for our number to appear on the lap board. When it did, we ZOOMED down to the black line and rode a lap flat out. WHEEEEE.

On the boards

It was great working with Hannah; we encouraged and supported each other through the wobbles. David Cassidy was pleased with our progress, so much that he amended his plan halfway through because we were doing so well. I was struck by how every time he described the next activity, I thought, ‘Oh, no. I’m not sure I can do that.’ And then I managed it, and of course this felt fantastic. Terrific teaching. At the end, he told us we should be proud of ourselves. I think we all were; I can’t speak for anyone else but I came away feeling completely different about track riding. Beforehand, I’d loved it but been terrified the whole time, and grimly aware of my limitations. Afterwards, I felt like anything was possible. We covered a lot of the skills necessary for track accreditation, so working towards this is the next step. I still need to practise riding close behind someone else (in the two-pairs exercise, I spent the whole time going OHGODOHGODOHGODOHGOD) but if I can do all that other stuff, I must be able to crack that too, right? Right?

There’s another women-only session, on 22 December. I won’t be going, because it’s Heptonstall Charity Fancy Dress Cyclocross day, but I can’t recommend it enough. Sign up. Go on. You know you want to.

women's track session

Happy participants


** eeeeep

*** shouting WOOOHOOO as you do this is not compulsory, but it’s hard to resist

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  1. […] year, mostly because of road race training events like the one I attended. Last year I attended a BC women’s velodrome session that was bursting at the seams with good road riders keen to have a go at something new. Where were […]

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