Not only do UWE Sport staff love our jobs working in sport, we love to take part in sport too, whether that’s by staying active on a daily basis, competing to a high level in our chosen disciplines or by testing each other to a new a sporting challenge. And that’s just what we did last week when we headed to Wales National Velodrome, Newport for an hour of fun (and thankfully no falls) on the track.
Upon arrival we were measured to be given our track bikes and briefed as to how they work. Track bikes are fixed-gear bicycles meaning they only have a single gear ratio and has neither a freewheel nor brakes. This took a lot of getting used to for the track newbies who said they had to concentrate a lot to not stop peddling and to slow down by applying resistance to the peddles.
After a few laps on the flat, we were then set our first task of riding the cote d’azur (safety zone, the wide blue line around the inside of the track. Once we’d build up enough speed to ‘stick to the track’, we could then start climbing the walls and move up to the black, red and blue lines.
It takes a minimum of 18 mph to round the corners of the track which have a gradient of 28 degrees. Tires are narrow and inflated to high pressure to reduce rolling resistance and up on the track, steering can be kept to a minimum.
Once the coach felt comfortable we had mastered the basics, he challenged us to a 500 m time trial; two laps of the track at the shortest route around the black line. Our resident cycling pros rode ahead to get the podium places, all under 40 seconds with Performance Officer, Kieran Hopkins leading the fleet with a time of 36.01 (just bare in mind the Female Junior Champion only takes 35.97)!
We headed back to the Centre for Sport to refuel with a banana (and Holly’s delicious flapjack) in hand to carry on with the rest of our day. Overall, we had a great, if not fairly tiring, hour on the track which left us with jelly legs and a craving to get back to the track soon.