Velodromes, Strange Bikes and Fear !

Wednesday was an outing to the Olympic Velodrome in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – London. Woking CC had managed to get a booking, so we get to ride in circles for a few hours. The velodrome is a truly impressive building, even thought it is four years since the Olympics it has not lost any of its 2012 shine. The track is in great condition and the first thing you notice is the gradient of the banking. Now I have been on plenty of “Black Runs” down the side of mountains, but the thought of riding a bike on what seems like a “wall of death” did not seem like a sensible idea. The track bikes are all fixed wheels with “Look” clip in pedals. So you now have the perfect combination for an accident. Feet locked in the pedals, on the equivalent of a “Black Run” to ride on, and a bunch of other people to avoid and make sure you don’t wipe them out. Oh and did I mention – NO BRAKES !!!…. yep you heard that right.

My biggest fear was actually not looking like a prat and falling off trying to get the bike started. Hanging onto a hand rail – pulling the bike into action, while hoping you can get the 1st pedal rotation over before the wobble gets too much to fall off.

We get out onto the track and the coach pushes up the speed slowly, at the same time moving us further and further up the banking. The first couple of laps were pretty scary ! – The lack of brakes (all controlled with the back resistance through the pedals) as well as the fact you can’t free wheel. I of course completely understood this concept, but my ingrained road cycling brain had not quite made the jump yet, it took three very scary moments when my brain was rudely reminded to keep pedaling as my hip was wrenched from its socket.

After fifteen minutes it all started to come together. The faster you go the easier it all becomes. Look ahead and anticipate what the riders ahead are up to and you can ease off the speed before trouble occurs. You always have an option to go up the track if you are gaining too fast and soon we were flinging the bikes up around the curve. We did a few drills and sprints along with some great team riding in groups.

If you like riding a road bike this needs to be on your cycling bucket list of things to do. Just resist the urge to relax the feet – KEEP PEDALING !!!

Spring has sprung ?

If its below 15 degrees …. we don’t need to see the knees.!!!

Well for the past 2 weeks we have had a couple of days where the knees have come out to play. Some nice runs out with the Saturday social group and tacking on the extra KMs after the club ride to up the distance. Have also done a few runs over to Windsor Great Park. The traffic free roads are fantastic and the presence of deer and game birds are always a welcome addition to any ride. A few laps of the park in the evening sun were perfect and hopefully a sign of warmer days to come.

Breaking news: It looks like “The Project” is now definitely going ahead !! tickets have been booked, money has been paid. It all starts on June the 6th.

The next cycling activity is the club trip to the Lee Valley Park Velodrome where hopefully I will be having a go at that strange activity of riding a bike round and round in circles.

Surrey Hills – Leg Smash

A break in the weather at last and its a chance to get out. Friday is a holiday in the UK and in-between the storms and rain there was a brief window of sunshine. A few of the Woking CC members had the same idea for a ride out into the Surrey hills. This would be the first real test of the legs for the year and I was no looking forward to it. The initial 10 km was reasonably flat and not too tricky to hang onto the group but then we hit the hills. The group exploded and we all went into survival mode (well I certainly did). I dragged myself up and down the hills and eventually we made it to Peaslake and we stopped for a “cheese straw” and a coffee. At least the sun was out and it was a beautiful day. The group mutinied and those of us with not enough miles in the legs took the more direct route home while those who had been on the bike over the winter took a longer route back. I made it back with my legs and body definitely aware of the workout. – A lovely 90 km but was a tough day out.

A ride out with the Saturday Social.

Its still cold for March, freezing in fact, but you need to get out there. Time for a spin with the Woking CC Saturday Social group. The best part of cycling is the camaraderie and the  joys of riding as a group. The Woking CC Saturday social are the epitome of this. It was great to get out and just ride out with like minded people on quiet roads and at a gentle pace. A wonderful spin out to the local coffee stop, where we chatted about bikes and the usual.While we were at the coffee stop we we a bit bemused by a Saxon Warrior, complete with shield , spear and iPhone pacing up and down (obviously looking for something) After a few taps on his phone a bunch of cars turn up and next thing we know we have an army of Saxon warriors, with enough sharp pointy objects (and iPhones) to start a small war. They had all the gear, clothes and weaponry and it really did look like the dark ages out there. After a while they all disappeared into the woods. I guess they were honing their ancient skills.