Laura shared on one of our posts that she does track cycling and I immediately reached out to her! Read what she had to say and feel free to ask her any questions in the comments.
What is track cycling?
Track cycling is a specific type of bike racing that is done exclusively on a velodrome. Velodromes range in size from 133m and 500m. The are banked to allow for top speeds and momentum.
What type of bike do you ride?
On the velodrome you must ride a fixed gear bike with no brakes. This means you have one gear to use and you pedal forward to ride and then you let up on your leg speed, but never stop pedalling, to slow the bike down and stop.
How is it different from a road bike?
They have no brakes or derailleurs or shifters so they are much lighter. They also have a different type of rear dropout to allow for wheel changes and adjust the wheel position for different gear sizes. There are different bikes on the track for sprinting vs. timed events which have different geometry and aerodynamics. (sort of like the difference between a road bike and a triathlon bike!)
What are the races like?
There are tons of different types of races on the track that range from 200m time trials to longer endurance events. Timed events are individual but there are lots of different types of mass start races that have different sprints for points throughout the races.
How did you get into track cycling?
I started racing on the track in the early 2000s, after I’d been racing on the road for over 10 years. On the road, my sprint is my strength so I wanted to try racing on the velodrome for something different.
How do you learn to ride on the track?
I first rode on the track in Kissena, Queens with a friend who had grown up racing on that track. He was very patient and taught me the basics of safety, stopping, staring and track etiquette rules. From there I started racing at the Kissena Velodrome which is very supportive of women’s racing. It’s a very welcoming community of racers and everyone supports and teaches newer racers.
What is the track like?
Riding and racing on the track is very exhilarating and definitely an adrenaline filled race since they are usually short and action packed! You quickly learn how to handle the bike and how to stop and start safely. Being able to control a fixed gear bike well definitely makes you a safer rider on the road.
Best memory on the track?
My best memory, of course, is when I won a national championship in the masters championships but I also have incredible memories of racing with friends at the track and competing against some amazingly fast, talented and supportive women. The “suffering” of track racing is like no other so to share that feeling with friends is really fun and you can’t help but be proud of yourself for working so hard.
Scariest memory on the track?
The two things come to mind: one was the first time I raced in a men’s field at Trexlertown (PA)– they were so fast and we were in such a tight group. It was scary and totally amazing at the same time!
The other memory was when I did elite track nationals one year. I was so nervous to be racing against the “pros” I could barely control myself before the races. Fortunately, instinct kicked in during racing and I was able to hold my own!
Where are some tracks in the New England area?
There is a track in Londonderry, NH (the Northeast velodrome). There is not a lot of banking but it is a great place to learn the basics and do some fun racing. Kissena Velodrome in Queens is a 400m track and has moderate banking. Trexlertown, PA is a 333m track and is very smooth and has great banking. It is the closest velodrome that holds National Championships. Many of my friends will make the trip to Mattamy National Cycling Center in Milton, ON but I have not made that trek yet!
What other important information is there for us to know?
Track racing is incredible. It is addictive and so much fun— anyone can reach out to me anytime for more info on how to get started!!! Ask questions, I can probably talk about it all day!