Riding a bike seems to be the best catalyst to get me to do things I’m afraid of. And the first time I watched a track cycling race on YouTube, I thought, NO WAY. But then, when I watched a track race IRL, I simultaneously thought it was both terrifying and a necessary addition to my life. I had to try.
Lucky for me, at my local velodrome, they don’t just throw you out there onto the track and hope for the best. First, you complete three reasonably priced classes with professional coaches that teach you everything you need to know to get started. You’ll learn how to start, stop, and be aware of who is around you, learn about the different parts of the track, and learn about different types of racing. These sessions help you understand how track cycling works and gives you the tools you need to do it well.
You don’t need to be a fast cyclist to see if you enjoy the track. You don’t need to race. You don’t need a ton of fancy equipment. You just need to show up and give it a try. There are so many great reasons to try track cycling – and most of them don’t include racing. So let’s talk about it – here’s why you need to try the track.
Improved pedaling technique.
Pedaling a track bike is similar to pedaling any other bike. However, because you’re riding a fixed gear rather than a freewheel bike, you’ll learn to pedal through the whole stroke, giving you a smoother, stronger pedaling technique that will carry over into other disciplines of riding.
You’ll get faster and stronger.
It’s no surprise that many pro cyclists began their careers at the track. Track makes you fast! Track cycling involves a lot of short, hard efforts that get your heart pumping and your muscles working – which will make you stronger and faster on the road and better at climbing hills. It’s incredible how much of a difference track cycling can make.
You’ll learn a lot about yourself.
Some cyclists are diesel trains with incredible endurance, while others are great at short, fast sprints. Track will help you figure out which one you are and help you develop the other parts, too. You’ll learn how much grit you’ve got and what types of riding you enjoy most.
Your bike handling will get better.
When you spend a lot of time on a track bike, you’ll improve your bike handling. You’ll learn how to manage your energy as you control the bike. You’ll learn to go up and down the track. You’ll work on bump drills to know what to do if someone bumps your arm or shoulder while riding. You’ll learn to accelerate quickly and gain momentum, and you’ll learn how to use back pressure on the pedals to meter your speed and slow down. You’ll get much better control of your bike and improve your ability to maneuver quickly – which is a great asset in gravel, mountain biking, and road riding.
You’ll be more comfortable riding in bunches.
You ride close together when you’re on the track, which will help you be more comfortable riding in a group when you’re out on the road. You won’t be afraid when someone gets close – you’ll know how to hold your line and ride straight. And you’ll know what to do if someone gets too close for comfort.
You’ll be more aware of your surroundings.
In track, you learn to keep your head on a swivel. This will help you be more aware of who and what are around you, helping you keep an eye on outdoor traffic and road obstacles.
You can ride after dark if your velo is well-lit.
Our velo has exceptional lighting, and they often offer late-night sessions for people who work during the day. You can easily and safely ride after dark. For indoor velodromes, you can ride all year round without fear of bad weather.
You don’t have to buy a bike for track cycling.
Many velodromes give you the option to rent a bike for a small fee, so you don’t have to worry about trying to purchase a new bike before you know if you love track cycling. You will need a helmet!
You can work with a coach or ride during open track cycling sessions.
Our velo offers a variety of programs, from beginner sessions to varied levels of workouts with a coach, motor pacing, and open track times where you can do your own thing. At certain times of the day, you can even ride your road bike on the track (certain rules apply).
You don’t have to worry about traffic, potholes, or getting lost.
There are no potholes on the track. It’s a smooth, even surface. You don’t have to worry about road construction, gravel, potholes, or oncoming traffic. You don’t need to worry about someone walking out in front of you on the trail or running over chipmunks, or crashing into doggies – the track is free of obstacles.
Track cycling is a pretty safe sport.
Yes, accidents can happen, just as they can on the road or trail. However, there are a few rules of track cycling that you’ll learn in your beginner class. The rules are simple and easy to follow but help keep the sport safe and fun! Also, because track bikes don’t have brakes, you won’t need to worry about someone slamming on their brakes in front of you. Track bikes slow down more gradually, reducing the risk of accidents.
Your family can ride together.
If you love to ride with your family, but you’re all at different ability levels, the track makes for an easy way to enjoy the sport together. If you go to open track times, you can all ride around the track at your own pace but still be near each other and have fun. If your kids like sports but you can’t chauffer them around to all the different sporting events, they can be in kids’ track together. And, of course, you can all race the same events and hang out together in the infield when it isn’t your turn.
Your friends and family can watch.
Our velodrome has bleachers, concession stands, public restrooms, and even a beer garden so you can invite your friends and family to come watch. It’s much easier to watch a track race than a road race or mountain bike race because you can see the whole course from anywhere around the track. There’s a lot of fast-paced action that’s fun to watch and fun to ride. Bonus – they’ll be super-impressed that you can ride a bike with no brakes and only one gear!
You’ll learn more about your bike.
Track bikes are much simpler than modern road bikes, and you can learn basic bike maintenance much more easily on your track bike. You can even learn to change the gearing, adjust your chain, and take your wheel on and off (if you want to, that is).
You can wear your favorite kit.
Show off your style in your favorite kit or workout gear. There’s no pressure to conform, so long as what you wear is safe and easy to ride in. Like loud, flashy jerseys? Go for it. Like something a little more subtle and subdued? That’s great, too. You don’t have to match a team or club (unless that’s your jam). You can really show your personal style.
You can race – if you want to- or do fun community workouts.
There’s no pressure to do anything you don’t want to do. If you want to stick to community workouts because it’s a great workout and a fun time, great! It’s a safe and encouraging atmosphere that gives you a place to exercise without having to sit at home on the trainer. But there are also plenty of options to race.
Track cycling is fun!
Track cycling is fun – and a little bit addictive! It’s a great way to get fresh air, ride hard or easy, and just have a great time with the people around you.
Track cycling is great for your mental and physical health.
Track workouts really get you moving, can help you feel better, and give you a great dopamine hit! Whether you are riding or racing, exercise is a great way to boost your mental and physical health. Since track workouts are so concentrated, it’s a great way to fit in a hard workout in a small amount of time.
You’ll be welcomed into a fun and friendly community.
I find that track people are some of the most welcoming and fun people to be around. It’s amazing how people will help each other with gears or tires and then jump in to race against each other.
I find track cycling is a lot of fun, a great workout, and an open community that works together to create a great race. I think the women’s field is especially supportive and encouraging whether you are young, old, new, or experienced. Track is great for the fast racer and the average cyclist, alike. Don’t worry if you’re new and don’t know what you’re doing – someone will help!
There are plenty of great reasons to give track a try and now is a great time to start!