So, my track journey has officially begun. Ive had my tour of the velodrome, got an idea of the accreditations I’ll be going through and attended my first ever Track event, the National omnium championships, learnt what omnium meant and what an experience it was. Accreditations, as I understand are a pathway through to being able to ride the track. There are 4 stages:
Stage 1.Track cycling taster
Stage 2. Improving (hopefully)
Stage 3. Advanced
Stage 4. Accreditation
My first session is where I will get a feel for the bike I’ll be riding, using the toe-clips or clipless pedals, riding with a fixed wheel and just general track use and safety. Lucikly for me, you can re-do any of the stages if I don’t feel confident to move onto the next straight away. The first 2 stages are for an hour, stages 3 and 4 are two hour sessions. I will be documenting my experiences and progress through each stage.
When asked to be the women’s Track Ambassador for Derby Arena, I thought it would be a really cool opportunity, but also quite daunting getting involved in a sport that I don’t know anything about, I love bikes, and I want to ride all the bikes, so this is an awesome opportunity to broaden my horizons, right? So what better way to get to know a sport more than by speaking to the women in it! As I mentioned in my last post, I got the chance to chat to the very lovely Charlotte Broughton. When looking at the list of female competitors at the National Champs, I came across Charlotte; she is a super experienced cyclist in road, cyclocross, circuit racing and track! She is on the Liv AWOL U23 women’s race team and a super supporter of women cycling- so what better woman to talk to. At the event we chatted for over an hour about all things track- from the love of the sport to the difficulties, women’s cycling and life in general. As a follow up she has been very helpful and answered some questions to help me get an idea of Track.
What was your first ever track experience?
Racing at Portsmouth as a small child (u10) on my first ever road bike. It was an outdoor track so was pretty windy, also it’s a super strange shaped track as it’s not fully oval – if you don’t believe me google it! But back then I wasn’t too sure what tactics were and I just enjoyed the long car journeys and watching the older riders race, like my brother Sam.
Any tips for a beginner getting into track cycling?
Don’t look directly up or down the banking, I’ll admit that even freaks me out! But rest assured the track is the same steepness throughout the banking so however high you are, up by the fence or just above the Côte d’Azur (the blue bit of wood that runs between the track and the concrete) it’s the same. Also wiggling your fingers when you feel stressed/scared/tensed also really helped me at the start. Remembering to look around and be aware of what’s going on around you is also mega important for safety. But mainly just have fun – there’s no rain and it’s usually pretty warm inside so really how can you not have fun!?
How often do you access Derby Arena’s track?
About one to three times a week; I’ll tend to do track league on Tuesdays and then maybe some pursuit training on Wednesdays and then occasionally on a Sunday I may go to the track, but it depends what’s on. For example I might do a session with gated starts to get used to the kinaesthetic feel if they have the gate out.
Do you still enjoy riding your bike whilst you’re competing?
I absolutely love it, I really get big highs from seeing my own progression or pushing hard through races. It gets a tad addictive I must admit. Then I get such a massive kick with the last few laps of a race, it’s such an buzz and it totally outweighs the nerves for me! I even enjoy picking myself up and refocusing after a bad or disappointing result. I really enjoy the highs and the lows of racing. Nothing compares to it for me.
Do you prefer riding in mixed groups or women’s only?
I don’t mind either. For me personally I enjoy both groups just as much, and the banter is always good which is the main thing right – if you aren’t having fun what’s the point?
What kit would you recommend wearing when riding at the Track?
Good pair of padded shorts that suit your body and are padded in the right areas for your own needs. Mitts/fingerless gloves so if you fall (not the aim of the game but hey) you don’t rip up your hands as well for comfort as Track mitts often have padding on the palms. A helmet is a must as you can’t ride without one, but you can always hire a helmet and shoes at tracks. Glasses if you wear contact lenses like me, else you’ll find your eyes really dry out and it’s a complete painful nightmare! Oh and a funky pair of socks, they always make me feel that little bit better when I’m dying a thousand deaths on the bike.. but don’t be put off, it’s super good for your health! And if you aren’t into funky socks, funky sports bras (good supportive ones) are always a good cycling kit staple and I always pack two in my kit bag as it wouldn’t be the first time I’d forgotten to pack one.
So there you have it! helpful or what? Thanks Charlotte for being a super star.
Today I’ve been for my gym induction, and will be working from a programme to go alongside my track experience.
Whats next? Follow up from Charlottes last Q&A, One of my favourite bits, kit of course!