Since joining the BCC, I’ve lost a lot of virginities: Group Rides, Riding over 100kms in a day, Cyclocross racing… but I don’t think anything compares to what happened at Forest City Velodrome in London.
Trish, Andrew, Dushan & I arrived at FCV before the others and I have to say it was not what we expected. From the outside, it looked like an abandoned hockey rink. We walked through the doors, into to a darkened hallway with old bikes lying on an old concession and found no one there to greet us. I think we all agreed that it was colder inside, than out. (it looked like a scene from a horror movie) We climb the first set of stairs, heard the haunting sounds of Dubstep being played. We reached the top and gazed upon a large wooden structure inside a concrete stadium.
Several expletives were uttered at the sheer size & scariness of this wooden beast. To say most of us were apprehensive, would have been an understatement.
After watching several riders rolling on the track, to what we later found out was a rec ride, we climbed down to meet the others (Jon, Paul, Alexx, Steve, Kerri, & Emile).
The excitement was starting to build. I have a track bike and have ridden fixed before, but never on anything like this, most of the others were first timers. We got changed, opened the gate and made our way to the infield. 55 degrees of banking. Wow.
We signed up, signed release forms (I wonder why), picked out our bikes, installed pedals, puked in garbage cans and adjusted our seat posts.
Our instructors, Chris & Yves, asked us to ride in a small circle & slalom some cones to get used to the feeling of having no freewheel. We did a couple of stopping drills and within 20 minutes of first getting on the bikes, we were on the track!
What happened over the next 2.25 hours was pure bliss.
At first we rode in 2 groups. Our fist drill had us rolling around the track, first staying on the lower blue portion, called the cote d’azure. As we started to get used how the bike handled in the corners, we started to move up and down the track on the straights,changing hand positions, touching the railing and finally riding around the track at the black line. The first drill, was 15 minutes. I was pooped.
Some water & calories at we were back at. What seemed very scary at the beginning, started becoming very exhilarating. We started to go faster & faster and higher and higher. Normally, in the track 1 sessions, we would not go above the red line, but we (as a group) possessed some great skills which had our instructors convinced that we could handle using more of the track.
The drills got longer & we were all grouped together for passing drills, where communication and vision are the keys to success.
For our last drill, our instructor Chris had to leave and we were joined by a gentleman by the name of Rhys. He is an “experienced” rider who looked at home on his Cyclops.
He lead our group on a roller coaster ride, moving up and down on the track, starting on the high part of the track and rocketing down to the lower part of the track on the exit of the next turn. We even rode up to the yellow line!
I can not describe the feeling - not true, to quote Dushan: “It’s like sex on a bike”
A big thanks to Jon Spira for organizing our intro to track riding. I can’t wait to go back, and I’m pretty sure a bunch of us share the same sentiment.
I think once the facility in Milton is built, we will all be spending WAY more time at the track.