After stage 1 success I was ready and raring to go into Stage 2 (kind of). I’m not going to lie, the nerves were still very present but reminding myself that once I was on the track they do disappear was helpful! In between waiting for stage 2, and to get in some more track time I went along to a women’s novice session. We had coach Carl, and there were nearly 10 women present. We all sat and chatted before getting on the track and the atmosphere was pretty calm and relaxed. I’d actually forgotten about my pre-nerves until I grabbed my bike and remembered what I was doing there!
Carl set us off on a warm up and this is where for the first time I got used to riding a bit closer to the person in front (poor her), controlling my speed was key, and trying to keep up was another! The track was full of smiling faces and laughter which was awesome to be a part of. Track was fun, and I was loving the women’s only setup (sorry guys). Carl laid out some cones for us to manoeuvre in and out of for some bike control practice. This was done in pairs side by side, and then side by side reached out and holding your partners shoulder! Even though it was pretty scary, we all seemed to be laughing and smiling our way through. A great session, and a must go- to if you get chance. Not only for the track time, but for the welcoming group of women who showed me the fun and social side of track!
So with some extra track time in the bag, I was feeling ready for Stage 2. The day came and I did sit nervously again with an already dry throat before I’d even set foot on the track. Todays session there were 5 of us, which seemed like a nice group size. We had coach Simon who talked us through what we would expect from this stage- Building of confidence (need that), riding in small groups (I feel sorry for them) , riding within 1 metre of the person in front ( think I nailed that in novice) finally managing speed and space between other cyclists (thats going to be interesting). Most importantly LOOKING and safety.
If you’re not going fast enough you will fall down the bank on the corners, I’ve heard that a lot now, it scares the life out of me, so when Simon asked me to take lead and set the pace for everyone on our warm up, it didn’t go quite to plan. In fear of death, I pedalled like my life depended on it! Within two laps I was called back down off the track and my position as leading rider was taken away from me. Damn. I spoke to coach Simon about this, he asked why I’d gone so fast, I explained my fear of falling down the track and dying and he reassured me that he wouldn’t let me fall down the track, as long as I listened to him he’d make sure I was going fast enough. So I had to believe him, joined back in line with the rest of the group and we were off again, with the pace much more reasonable.
We set off riding in a line, making sure we all LOOKED when we pushed off of the rail, this is very important.
1. Because of safety.
2. Because if I didn’t look the rider behind me would tell Simon that I didn’t look.
3. Because Simon told us too.
4. Because Simon said if I didn’t look, he’d fail me.
So, I LOOKED. This time we had a go at lumps and bumps, better now I wasn’t taking the lead and much more fun! Lumps and bumps is where you head up and down the track at different points gaining speed as you drop down, great laugh.
All warmed up, we then all lined up nice and neat, and rode around making sure to keep a bike length apart from the rider in-front to begin with. After a couple of laps of that, and some great direction and encouragement from coach Simon, this went down to a wheel length. Surprisingly I felt comfortable with this, remembering to wiggle my fingers for the nerves (thanks Charlotte), I did feel very safe. We then went for changes, moving up off the line from the front of the group and joining on the back, this was great fun and ideal for learning how to manage speed and pace. Thinking about speed when rejoining the group and when leading was key, and as a group I think we did it pretty well!
We then went off in pairs riding side by side making our way up the track from following the light blue and black lines, building up to one on the blue line and one above it. Communication was key when we were then asked to change riding positions, by this point I felt super confident and enjoyed having a little chat with my partner, to my surprise we were told by Simon we were going TOO SLOW, and had to speed up! Good job Simon was there.
All off the track, full evaluation given by Simon and we were all passed! Hip Hip Hooray! Now for stage 3, think I’ll sneak a Stage 2+ in before that though and maybe a couple more women novice sessions for a bit of fun.
Thanks to Simon for the great photos!