The rules of track etiquette
To anyone who’s relatively new to track cycling it can be a little bit confusing as you get to grips with how it works. If you've been riding with groups on the road you probably have a pretty good grasp of rider etiquette and the unwritten rules of cycling. However some of these have an added twist when it comes to the steep wooden banks of the velodrome. So in the faster moving cauldron of the velodrome, here are a few essentials in etiquette, rules and tips for everyone planning to hit the piste:
1. Don’t stop pedalling
This sounds simple enough but people still try to freewheel (stop pedalling) on a track. Simply put, your track bike wont allow you to do this as it has a fixed wheel (meaning when the wheels go forward, so do the pedals, unlike a road or mountain bike where you can freewheel or coast). If you do try to stop pedalling suddenly you'll get a buckaroo!
2. Keep your head on a swivel
Always always look about before you make any movement on or off the track (the same strategy when driving a car on a three lane motorway).
There is always a lot happening on the track and you must make sure there is a safe space to slot yourself in. Don’t just blast on to the track without looking around beforehand.
The same applies to coming off the track. Many times I’ve seen riders just creeping around the blue band at the bottom of the track oblivious to the person who is flying around the black line at the bottom at full pelt. The out come is usually loads of shouting, confusion and high risk of being crashed into. Get off the track quickly but safely.
3. Signal before you manoeuvre
In a similar fashion to driving a car you have to have a system in place before you do any manoeuvring. In a car its mirror, signal, manoeuvre. On a track bike its pretty much the same. Okay, we don't have mirrors on our bikes but we have the ability to look over our shoulders. You would then do a small wiggle with your elbow or a hand signal to tell the riders behind that you are about to change your direction.
4. Cycling is a heads up game
It’s super important to look where we are going.
In track cycling this is probably the one thing people don’t do enough. They also don’t look far enough ahead. My golden rule for this is always look at least 5 riders ahead. This allows you to see whats is happening in the line ahead. This allows you to be more pro active and less reactive when it comes to riding in the line of riders.
In a race situation this is paramount as you can actually see whats happening before it gets to you. This helps to avoid crashes and keep an eye on your competitors in race situations.
5.Control your speed
Remember you have no brakes and will have to regulate your speed with pressure on your pedals. On the down, stroke to accelerate, up, stroke to brush off speed.
6. If in doubt pedal hard.
When it comes to the negotiating the steep banking this rule is always a winner.
The more speed on the banking the lesser the risk of sliding down, crashing and having an evening of removing skinfuls of splinters.
These are just the tip of the ice berg, however, if you play by these rules it will make your visit to the boards a more pleasant and less nerve racking experience.