This outdoor velodrome is 250m long, with the corners being banked at 44.5 degrees. I’ll be honest, I said “oh shit” probably a half dozen times the first few times I went around the corners. If you’re at the bottom of the track, it’s like you have a wall on your side. If you’re at the top of the track (the “rail”), it’s pretty intimidating to look down at first. They say that if you maintain a speed of about 18mph around the corners, you’ll stick to the track and not slide down. I didn’t bother to test how slow I could go!
I think there were about 20 of us in the class, with a wide variety of cycling backgrounds. There was a couple there who have a 15 year old daughter that has been racing at the velodrome for a few years, and so they wanted to experience it for themselves (which I think is awesome). There were also a couple of hardcore cyclists (at least one was a Cat 1 road racer). I’d say that I was probably somewhere in the middle of the experience spectrum.
This was the first time I’d been on a track bike. There are no brakes, no gears, and no freewheel. So, if the wheels are turning, so are the pedals. Also, if your cranks are horizontal, the front tire will hit your shoe if you turn the wheel more than just a little. That’s not an issue when on the track, but I did almost fall over from that a few times while getting on/off the warm-up loop. Thankfully there were no real crashes during our class, but we also didn’t ever fall into a tight paceline or anything like that.
It’s hard to describe what it’s like to ride on a velodrome. I loved it though. And now that I’ve taken the intro class, I can pop in at any time (during open sessions) and ride for $5 (plus $5 for a track bike rental).
I wore my helmet camera for the class, so here’s a short video I put together this afternoon: