On Saturday morning I joined a group of Marlow Riders for a track taster session at Calshot Velodrome, part of the Calshot Activity Centre down on the South coast, just outside Southampton.
Marlow Riders is a club formed as the cycling wing of Marlow Runners. The club was born out of an idea where one fo the Runners decided to invite his friends to join him for dinner to celebrate his 60th birthday. The only catch was that dinner was in Paris and his guests had to cycle to the venue. After a number of months of training, the group did the ride to Paris in 3 days. Marlow Riders was born.
The taster session was organised by Marlow Rider Willi Moore, a cyclist with years of experience including being a Team Pursuit Bronze medallist at the Munich Olympics.
On arrival we booked in and signed the usual waivers etc. then made our way to the centre of the track. Calshot is the second shortest velodrome in the world apparently at 142 meters (ish) on the racing line. A sort track howver doesn't diminish the angle of the banking. Standing at the foot of one of the bends, looking up the steep banking was enough to make more than a few sphincters start to twitch.
Not to worry though. We were fitted for our Dolan track bikes and then lined up track centre facing our instructor who talked thorugh the foibles of riding fixed. He then got us riding round the flat track infield so that those who had never ridden fixed could get a feel for it.
As the session progressed we were put through a series of exercises that got us up to speed and up to the top of the banking in a controlled manner.
The feeling of riding round the velodrome at speed was exhilerating and the experience of being at speed at the top of the banking then diving down towards the exit of the bend and the racing line has to be experienced to be understood. 8 grown men and women smiling like children at a toy shop.
If you get the chance to try track cycling, give it a go. I don't think you will regret it.