week #44 trackcycle

This week’s challenge was track cycling. It was a dark and stormy night and I completed a women’s induction session at the Herne Hill’s outdoor velodrome http://www.hernehillvelodrome.com/women/ and was made to feel really welcome as I worked to remember my skills on a bike. I possess a pair of ancient cycling shorts so I dusted them off and had a go!

I wasn’t sure this was going to happen at all as the ever present issues with Covid and then a truly awful weekend of weather made it all seem a bit unlikely to go ahead but it did and I had a great time! We were a group of 16 women, all ages and some clearly regular cyclists, unlike me. The fixed wheel (no gears) and no brakes thing took a bit of getting used to, particularly as of course your feet are attached to the pedals. You slow down by resisting the turn of the pedals.

Track cycling has achieved a much higher profile in the UK since the considerable success of our teams at Olympic and International competitions, and the women’s team is a force to be reckoned with. They have some crazy looking bikes and kit, they compete indoors on a ridiculously steep sided wooden floored circuit at high speed. I however, am in some 20 year old nappy-like cycling shorts, on a borrowed club bike and am stuttering my way around an outdoor track in the dark and with high winds…

I read some helpful tips beforehand, there is lots of encouragement and information out there https://totalwomenscycling.com/fitness/trying-track-cycling-need-know-velodrome and if you wondered what an outdoor velodrome looks like then here it is!

Sorry no action shots of me as I was there on my own and everyone was kind of busy trying to teach us or not fall off their own bike so I didn’t pester them for pictures.

We learned the etiquette and rules of the track and we cycled lots of laps! Some as an individual and then some working as a team. I had to have stern words with myself to make myself ride around at the top of the steep banked ends, the angle felt crazy and the layer of wet leaves and buffeting winds added to the adrenaline (actually just fear!). It felt like an achievement to have taken it on and completed the whole thing. No-one fell off, hurray! Actually just focusing on riding a bike on a smooth surface and not worrying about being in the right gear or where you are going is a good feeling, its just about your effort and once I started to get beyond my worries it definitely has a mindful sense about it.

So I enjoyed that challenge! Delighted to have been able to actually do it as the next lockdown looms. It isn’t close to home so I won’t be able to do this regularly but great to have tried it and perhaps I’ll get back on a bike now, its great exercise and environmentally friendly.

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