Track riding is an exciting cycling discipline that takes place in a velodrome (track) either outdoors or indoors. Of course, nearly all riders will know of the iconic Olympic velodrome at Stratford – now called Lee Valley Velo Park (LVVP). The 250 meter indoor track is considered to be the best velodrome in the world.
There are also outdoor velodromes in the London area at Herne Hill and Welwyn Garden City. Both these tracks are over 400m in length but maintain the oval shape with banking.
Track bikes are fixed wheel, meaning when the wheels go around so too do the pedals. There are no brakes in the traditional sense, you slow down through the pedals by applying gentle pressure whilst still pedalling. A track bike has the one ‘fixed’ gear.
Before being able to race on these velodromes, a rider will need to obtain ‘accreditation’ – this is to ensure that a rider has the necessary skills to keep themselves, and the other riders, safe during a race. There is more about ‘accreditation’ later on.
Racing is available almost year round. For the summer months there are ‘Track Leagues’ at Herne Hill and Welwyn Garden City. There are also one off ‘open track meets’ as well as Omniums (an Omnium is competed over a number of different track races such as scratch, elimination and points). During the winter months there is a ‘Track League’ at the LVVP velodrome.
Track Cycling with LVYCC
LVYCC does not own or have permanent access to a velodrome. The club hires the LVVP velodrome on a fortnightly basis for 2 hours (except during the school summer holidays and when there is an event at LVVP). Unfortunately, the number of riders that can ride in these sessions is limited to the capacity of the track. At the current time demand exceeds the number of places available with a waiting list in place for first claim club members. (A first claim member is a rider whose British Cycling membership identifies LVYCC as their first club). Riders on a LVYCC session at LVVP velodrome must be 10 years of age or older.
Due to demand being so high, and to be fair to all riders, the club have adopted a set of priorities that will be considered when selecting a rider for a vacant place on the regular fortnightly sessions at LVVP. This priority list is on the basis that a rider is a first claim LVYCC member and is 10 years of age or older.
2 – Second priority – riders that are being nominated or are likely to be nominated for Regional School’s of Racing – RSR’s (either road or track or both). RSR’s are British Cycling led sessions that are by invite only, following nomination by your club.
3 – Third priority – riders that are racing track on a regular/fairly regular basis
4 – Fourth Priority – Riders that are accredited at LVVP
5 – Fifth Priority – Riders that attend track sessions outside of the club e.g. Eastern Region Track Cluster (Track School), Herne Hill Holiday Club, LVVP sessions etc.
6 – Sixth priority – Age – with older riders taking priority over younger riders
Riders can ask to be placed on the waiting list at any time once they are 10 years old. The Club does hold ‘beginners’ sessions for first claim club members at LVVP on occasion – these sessions are advertised through the email newsletter. This is a great chance for those on the waiting list, or who want to give track a try, to experience track cycling. To request to be placed on the waiting list please email as much detail about the rider as possible to: firstname.lastname@example.org Ideally, include information on the riders track experience against the clubs priority list above.
How Does a Rider Gain Track Experience?
This is not as difficult as at first it might seem. A great place to start is at an outdoor velodrome. Herne Hill Velodrome holds a daily ‘Holiday Club’ in nearly all school holidays. The sessions traditionally run from 10am to 3pm, are very reasonably priced and are great fun. A rider with no track experience will, on almost all occasions, be riding up the banking at the end of one day. Details of these holiday sessions are available on the Herne Hill Velodrome website – LINK
Welwyn Wheelers Cycling Club run Go Ride sessions on a Saturday morning during the summer months. Further information is available on the Welwyn Wheelers website in the lead up to the summer months – http://welwynwheelers.org.uk/
Organised track sessions are available at LVVP, beginner, improver and club cluster track sessions are all available for youth riders. Unlike the LVYCC track sessions at LVVP, riders must be 12 years or older to attend a track session directly organised by the velodrome. Further details can be found at –LINK
LVVP also organise holiday track sessions that can also be found at the appropriate time
Track School (formerly Eastern Region Track Cluster) is a British Cycling initiative, run by volunteers, to bring riders of similar ages & experiences together to learn and develop track riding skills from novices to National champions. Track School is open to members of Go-Ride clubs in the Eastern Region only.
Track School sessions run throughout the year at Welwyn & Lee Valley. In order to attend, a rider requests to be nominated through their club’s Track Co-ordinator. ALL new Track School riders must attend sessions at Welwyn during the summer months before they can be nominated for sessions at Lee Valley.
Sessions at Welwyn are run in Blocks of 3-4 weeks & riders are required to attend all sessions in a Block. Riders are placed in the Novice, Red, Amber or Green group depending upon the type of activities being run, rider age & experience & this can change from session to session. For 2016 flexible attendance, i.e. they will not be required to attend a whole Block, for riders placed in the Green group will be permitted.
For LVYCC members, details of future Track School sessions will be emailed to riders on the Club’s track waiting list as well as participants in the Club’s sessions at LVVP.
To keep up to date with Track School please see the website or Facebook pages.
In order to race, it is usual for a rider to be accredited on the track they are racing on. For example, to ride on any of the indoor velodromes, a rider will need UK Track Accreditation. This can be achieved at LVVP, and consists of four levels. A rider must pass Level 1 before moving to Level 2 and so on. Once a rider has achieved Level 4 they will receive UK Track Accreditation. British Cycling will be notified and the riders licence will be updated.
At the outdoor tracks at Welwyn Garden City and Herne Hill, it is likely that a rider will need to attend sessions at each track to be observed, before being told they are accredited. This is slightly less formal than the accreditation referred to above for the indoor tracks and will not be shown on a riders BC licence. Further information regarding accreditation: Welwyn LINK & LINK Herne Hill
The London Youth Track League held at LVVP runs from November to March and is held fortnightly. The League consists of eight race nights usually. There are races for Juniors, U16, U14 and U12, with a typical evening seeing a rider race four times in one evening. Riders must have ‘UK Track Accreditation’ showing on their licence to race in the London Youth Track League.
Welwyn Track League runs from April to September every week on a Friday evening. This (as well as racing at Herne Hill) is a great introduction to track racing. Riders will race in four events at each track league meet. There are races for Juniors, U16, U14, U12, U10 and U8.
Herne Hill Track League runs from April to September every week on a Wednesday evening. There are races for Juniors, U16, U14, U12 and U10.
Individual races and omniums are also listed on the British Cycling Website under their Track pages – LINK
The Club have a limited number of track bikes that are available to hire. Riders can also hire a bike at LVVP, Herne Hill and Welwyn, although it is likely a rider will need to have their own bike to race.
What to wear
You must have a helmet & gloves to wear
Wear clothing that won’t flap or get caught in your chain (whilst not a must, cycling clothing is ideal, it helps with speed and is more aerodynamic)
You don’t need cycling specific shoes, trainers will be fine but do ensure laces and trousers are firmly tucked in
Wearing 2 or 3 layers on top will help reduce any cuts and grazes should you have a fall
If you have any questions about track riding or racing ask one of the following: