Imagine the thrill of racing around a banked oval track with the wind rushing in your face, your pulse thumping, and your blood pumping.
Cycling on a track is a thrilling activity that will challenge your abilities to the limits. You’ll feel your legs’ strength and movements’ accuracy as you sprint around the track arena.
This article will explore the ins and outs of track cycling, from the velodrome, through training methods in the absence of a track. We’ll also look at the most popular velodromes in the US, where you can ride, and how much it will cost you.
What Is Track Cycling?
Track cycling offers non-stop action and relies heavily on the cycler’s strength, power, speed, endurance, strategy, and tactics. Unlike regular cycling, which is done on roads, trails, or other outside surfaces, track cycling happens on a banked oval track called a velodrome.
Track cycling bikes feature fixed gears and no freewheels, whereas regular cycling bikes have various gears and a freewheel mechanism, allowing riders to maintain a consistent pedaling pace.
For improved clearance on the banked bends, track cycling bikes also feature a taller bottom bracket and a longer chainstay.
Track cycling has several different formats and events, including sprints, pursuits, keirins, points races, and Madison races, each with its own rules and strategies.
It is one of the track’s most thrilling and fundamental races. In this event, the priority is speed over distance, so the fastest competitor is riding the bike throughout all cycling disciplines.
Riders compete in a 200-meter time trial to establish seed times for the Sprint. The 18 riders who finished the qualifying round fastest will compete in the 1/16 finals.
The last four riders will go through a best-of-three format in the semifinals to move on to the medal rounds. Each semis winner proceeds to the gold medal match, while each semi-final loser competes for the bronze medal in another best-of-three format.
The Keirin is a sprint-focused track cycling competition where participants first pace each other with a motorized bike called a derny before engaging in mass sprints.
The pacer begins moving at 30 km/h and gradually increases speed until it exceeds 50 km/h. With 600 meters remaining, the derny pulls off the track, forcing the competitors into a sprint to the line.
Four seven-man heats of the 28 riders make up the opening round of competition. The top two finishers in each heat proceed to the next round, while the remaining 20 riders compete in a repechage.
Each second-round heat’s top three finishers advance to the finals, while each bottom three move to the consolation round to determine seventh through the twelfth place. In the finals, a group of six riders competes against one another in a frantic dash for the medals.
In this team track cycling competition, 18 two-person teams compete over a 50-kilometer course (200 laps).
Every 20 laps, there are intermediate sprints, and the results are awarded similarly to the points race: the first place with 5 points, the second place receives 3, the third place gets 2, and the fourth place receives 1.
Each team has one rider participating while the others take a break at the top of the track. When a rider is prepared to switch, his partner falls into the race from the top of the circuit. The pace can remain significantly higher with frequent changes in riders and short rest breaks.
The superior endurance rider often tries to complete as many laps as possible while the better sprinter of the pair is thrown into action just before an intermediate sprint.
The team that scored the most points among the groups that completed the most laps during the competition is the winner.
Three-person teams compete in running the best time over 750 meters, putting their speed and teamwork to the test.
Teams are seeded and paired up against one another in the first round based on their qualification times. The eight fastest teams proceed to the first round after a qualifying round.
After 250 meters, the cyclist in the front dismounts, and the remaining riders begin to dictate the pace. Once drafting off his teammates for the first two laps, the anchor leg races it out for the final lap after the second rider has covered 500 meters of the track.
After completing the first round, the fastest two winners advance to the gold-medal final, while the two other round-one winners advance to the bronze medal match.
The Main Problem With Track Cycling as Hobby: Location
Track cycling was quite popular in the US, especially in the 20th century, when it was recognized as one of the top Olympic sports.
The lack of velodromes and training facilities and a fall in young people’s interest in cycling as a sport are some of the causes of its recent decline in popularity.
Cycling is practiced on a banked oval track known as a velodrome, typically 250–500 meters long, with a banked oval track and spectator seating for track cycling. With the track’s banked design and polished surface, riders can keep their momentum strong through the turns.
Some tracks’ banking angles are more extreme than others. The straightaways at a typical international track are banked at 42 degrees, while the corners are banked at 33 degrees.
But like any other pastime, track cycling has its share of difficulties. Those looking to take up track cycling as a pastime often need help finding a venue for cycling.
A velodrome isn’t always accessible, and even if one is nearby, it might not be available for training or use by the general public.
But the good news is, even without a nearby velodrome, riders can train for track cycling using different methods. Riders can practice on a fixed-gear bike on a flat, smooth surface, like a parking lot or a closed circuit, if there is no velodrome accessible.
It will help them develop skills in bike control, group, and high-speed riding.
They can also search for nearby indoor cycling centers that provide track cycling training or educational opportunities. Riders can learn and practice track cycling skills and methods in a safe atmosphere during these sessions.
Velodrome Locations in the U.S.
Below, you’ll see some of the most popular and recognizable track cycling velodromes. Check them out.
ADT Event Center (Los Angeles, California)
It is one of the most recognizable track cycling venues in the US. The 2004 USA Junior Track National Championships, the 2004 World Junior Track Cycling Championships, the 2005 World Track Cycling Championships, and the UCI Track Cycling World Cup Classics were held at the ADT Event Center.
The velodrome invites guests for training and riding sessions and offers coaching and instruction for cyclists of all ability levels.
The Valley Preferred Cycling Center (Trexlertown, Pennsylvania)
The Valley Preferred Cycling Center is the top velodrome in the country, hosting spectacular professional and amateur track competitions and extensive community programming to encourage more people to ride bicycles in a secure environment.
The location holds cycling events all year long, including gravel races, gran fondos, cyclocross races, and charity rides.
Hellyer Velodrome (San Jose, California)
This velodrome is a popular venue for track cycling in the Bay Area, and it offers training and riding sessions for riders of all levels. The track is 335 meters long and has corners with a maximum banking angle of 23 degrees.
National Sports Center Velodrome (Blaine Minnesota)
The 250-meter-long track contains banked curves at an inclination of 43 degrees. It replicates the one used at the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992. The best racers from North America, including those from the US, Canada, and Europe, routinely visit this track.
Brian Piccolo Park Velodrome (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
The 333.3-meter concrete track at this velodrome has a maximum banking angle of 28 degrees.
This bicycle/skating complex draws more than 3,500 athletes annually due to its location in sunny South Florida, where temperatures range from 70 degrees in the winter to 80+ degrees in the summer.
The typical rental or entrance cost for a velodrome in the U.S. varies. While some velodromes charge a drop-in fee for riders who only want to use the track once, others require that riders buy memberships.
Depending on the velodrome, the drop-in price ranges from $5 to $25 for each session. Student, junior, and group discounts are furthermore available at some velodromes. Annual membership costs can range from $50 to $200.
So Can Track Cycling Be Your Hobby?
Track cycling as a sport is an excellent hobby, but note that it entails a lot of preparation. You should first achieve a foundational level of fitness and endurance if you want to take up track cycling as a hobby.
You can use road bikes, and fixed-gear bikes can be used for this. You can also use rollers or a trainer to replicate the rigors of track cycling.
Additionally, it’s crucial to concentrate on enhancing strength and power through exercises for conditioning and strength. Attend clinics and classes on track cycling, or work with a coach or veteran rider to learn proper bike handling, racing strategies, and how to ride safely on a velodrome.
Also, keep in mind that track riding may be psychologically and physically exhausting. The sport is only appropriate for individuals willing to commit because it takes a lot of time and effort to become excellent at it.
Track cycling is a demanding and thrilling sport that calls for a combination of physical fitness, technical ability, and commitment. You should consider it a sport when seeking a new activity, an exciting adventure, or a means to push yourself to new heights.
Choosing track cycling as a sport or pastime takes commitment, effort, and determination, but the benefits are well worth it. From the thrill of speed and the noise of the audience to the friendship and sportsmanship of the community, track cycling is a sport you can enjoy for a very long time.
Last Updated on May 29, 2023 by Danijel Cakalic