With the third session of certification came a huge wave of information. While the old adage "Ride Fast, Turn Left" still applies it wasn't until I had a few laps under my belt that I really realized how big and strategic the world of track cycling could really be. In this last session there happened to be only three riders(including myself) in the class which allowed for more specific instruction and what I gathered to be more advanced concepts.
After forty laps of a rotating paceline for warm-up we started to work on seated and standing jumps from the top railing which is called "the balustrade". Jumps on the velodrome are when the rider accelerates on the track using the slope of the banked turns and straights to gain maximum speed. It's a great skill to have because it can be modified for use in mass start events and is usually used to its full extent during the Flying 200m. Something that I had not realized is that when you drop down from the balustrade you should be using the whole track to your advantage. Instead of dropping to the bottom of the track as quickly as possible you should reach the bottom of the track at the last possible moment to maximize the effect of the "downhill" while gaining speed.
Another cool skill we worked on was a team pursuit start. While this start is usually done via a standing start in blocks we opted to creep up to the start line and start on a countdown. Performing this kind of start and then seeing it performed by professionals makes it all that much easier to appreciate how difficult it can be. A great example of how easy it can look is in the video of Team Great Britain Setting a New Team Pursuit Record. Like holy crap. It shows the Australian national team getting into perfect alignment before the top of the turn. Our goal was just to get lined up before the end of the turn which wasn't too much of a challenge but it didn't look half as fluid.
Lastly, we practiced standing starts. Pro tip for starts on the track: Start with the left leg in front because when you press down on the pedals the bike will naturally drive itself up the track to the right. If you start with the right foot forward the bike will want to move down the track and it is harder to control. It was fairly difficult for me to give a near all out effort due to a crash earlier in the week however I still feel like my form was good considering it was my first experience with this discipline. I definitely hope that there aren't too many people showing up this next saturday but I also hope that more people decide to show up for the certification class!
My second session of velodrome certification was awesome. Right from the start we took all of the knowledge we gained from the first session and took it immediately onto the track. It was much more dynamic and a lot more exciting than the first session which was much more informative. On the first day we were only allowed to ride along the measurement line in the pole lane so that we got an idea of the speeds needed to stay upright on the banked turns. At first, I felt a little uncomfortable riding at the slower speeds but it gave me a good idea of how fast or slow I really could go and stick to the boards.
In this session we hopped into a paceline and practiced peeling off the front by riding up the banked turns while the rest of the gruppetto rides underneath. By the time it was my turn to lead for two laps it was actually the first time I was able to see the the track open and without another rider in my view. It was a huge rush of adrenaline dropping down from the balustrade(the top rail) into the straightaway. Even just riding along the balustrade without dropping all the way down for a sprint is like riding along some rolling hills.
I'm definitely excited to get into the third session of certification for more emphasis on the technical skills and develop the ones already covered.
Is there a happy medium within the Strava community or are all who use it doomed to abuse it?
Obsessive, addictive, overzealous, annoying. These are just a few words the cycling purists generally use to describe Strava and it's users. With constant reference to its addictive nature it seems like many people refer to the social training network as a schedule 1 drug. They preach the idea that it takes the focus of riding off of the ride itself and replaces it with a feeling of vacancy every time they aren’t able to capture an elusive KOM or even just a PR. The struggling Strava addict, according to these cycling purists, is any rider who uses this social platform and can’t seem to ride without it. The phrase “Strava, or it didn’t happen” has been uttered by many Strava users but is it said with serious intent or only jest? (/the user who dreads the Uh-oh email like a bad omen.)
On the polar end of the spectrum, the user who has a public account but doesn’t publicly upload may be seen as the responsible user of Strava. “Responsible” in the sense that are not seeking the kudos with cleverly titled rides or they may be keeping KOM hunting to a minimum. Reasons that someone might keep their rides private may be for location privacy preferences, training privacy for top level athletes, or simply just because they want to contribute to the kudos community but are too hipster too upload their ride and want to secret training ;) However to other users it seems to defeat the social purpose of the site as a whole.
So, where is the balance? Ideally, the user who uses it as a training tool and a measure of progress over the long term while keeping things like: KOM hunting, frequent use of the phrase “Strava or it didn’t happen, KOM Poaching, and/or sweating over the numbers on the ride Analyze page to a minimum may be the best balance of Strava use. Even then, some of the things that make Strava annoying to some can bring out the fun and competitive nature in others.
Just getting some thoughts out on my first experience on the boards.
It was the first of four introductory sessions to become certified to ride on the Carson Velodrome at the Velo Sports Center. The class was a mix of riders who have had some experience on the velodrome and riders who have zero experience. I am one of the riders who have absolutely zero experience on the velodrome so every single second was thrilling for me. No joke, the second I walked into the upper level that overlooks the the whole track I became quite giddy with a mix of excitement and maybe just a little bit of fear.
I should clarify. The ever so slight feeling of fear isn't such an accurate description of the emotion. It was moreso an overwhelming sense of awe at the size of the track and the bank of the curves. From my initial research about the Carson Velodrome it is described as being much taller and steeper than many of the velodromes in the country. The great thing about learning to ride on this particular velodrome is that it is built to international standards which means that if you know how to navigate and ride on this velodrome then you'll know how to handle yourself on any of the velodromes around the world that are built to the same specifications. This is important to many of the world-class athletes who train here because they need to be sure that their efforts and mindsets are repeatable while on the boards.
The first day was full of information on the riding etiquette and demystifying of the names and functions of the lines painted on the boards. Even with all of the research done beforehand the understanding of how to interpret the lines and how they function while riding is much easier understood when standing on the velodrome. After a good bit of instruction off the bike it was time to make the steady transition from the apron up to blue band then into the pole lane! The extent of the riding was done in that lower section without passing to the outside red sprinters lane. After a quick twenty laps my lesson was done for the day and I was left wanting more. I can't wait until the next session where we will be able to get some more time on the bike!