Velodrome cycling, also called track cycling, is a great way to enhance your overall fitness and wellbeing. Combining physical exercise with mental stimulation and social interaction, it can be challenging but immensely rewarding.
Anyone can cycle on a velodrome, but it’s essential to follow the rules and guidelines set by the facility. Some velodromes may require riders to undergo an orientation session or certification process before riding. The good news is that beginners’ track cycling doesn’t require too much to get started. If you want to familiarise yourself with the standard to work towards, there are various styles of competitive events, including sprint races, endurance races, and timed events. Some popular events include the individual pursuit, team pursuit, keirin, and the Madison.
The UK hosts various track cycling events, including the National Track Championships, attracting elite riders vying for national titles. The Revolution Series features professional track cycling competitions across different cities, while the Six-Day Series brings exciting international track cycling to various European cities, after starting out in London. It showcases endurance and sprint disciplines in a unique format.
If you’re looking to get involved and want to know more about track cycling for beginners, read more in our full guide.
How does velodrome cycling work?
Velodrome cycling involves riding on a specialised, steeply banked track inside a velodrome. The track is usually oval-shaped with two straights and two banked turns. The key is to maintain a consistent speed through the turns to use the banking effectively.
Is velodrome cycling hard?
Track cycling for beginners can be challenging, as it requires specific skills and techniques. Riding on a steeply banked track may feel intimidating initially, but with practice, most riders adapt. Learning to ride in a straight line, mastering the banking, and understanding race strategies are crucial aspects. It’s best to start with a basic understanding of cycling and gradually progress to more advanced techniques.
The benefits of track cycling
This ever-growing sport offers a variety of physical, mental, and social benefits. You can wear your regular cycling kit and start enjoying the benefits pretty much right away, once you find a venue. Here are some of the key advantages for beginners to track bike cycling.
Track cycling is an excellent cardiovascular exercise. Riding on the velodrome requires consistent effort, which can help improve heart and lung health. In addition to this, regular cycling can contribute to better stamina and higher endurance levels.
Leg strength and muscle tone
Cycling, especially on a fixed-gear bike on the track, engages various muscle groups in the legs. The continuous pedalling motion helps strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes, promoting muscle definition.
Cycling is a low-impact activity, making it gentler on the joints compared to high-impact exercises like running. This makes track cycling a suitable option for people with joint concerns, or those recovering from injuries. It reduces stress on the body and improves muscle tone without excessive strain.
Improved mental health
Track cycling, as with any regular physical activity, will often lead to improved mental wellbeing. Cycling outdoors or in a velodrome allows you to enjoy the benefits of fresh air and sunlight, which can positively impact mood and reduce stress. The rhythmic pedalling and required focus also help you practise mindfulness, reducing stress and anxiety.
Enhanced balance and coordination
Riding on a banked velodrome track requires a high level of balance and coordination. Negotiating turns and maintaining a straight line on the banking helps improve these skills, contributing to better overall body control.
Calorie burning and weight management
Cycling is an effective way to burn calories. Track cycling sessions, especially high-intensity intervals or racing events, can help with managing weight and developing a leaner physique.
Community and social interaction
Track cycling often takes place in velodromes that serve as community hubs for cyclists. Participating in track cycling events provides an opportunity to connect with like-minded people, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie.
This sport requires specific skills such as riding in a straight line, mastering the banking, and sprinting techniques. Learning and honing these skills during beginners’ track cycling can be both challenging and rewarding, supporting your personal development and a sense of fulfilment. As you experience the thrill of mastering track techniques you also have a feeling of achievement, which can enhance your self-esteem and confidence.
Variety of training options
Track cycling offers a diverse range of events and training options, from sprint races to endurance events. Having such a wide variety allows cyclists to tailor their training to specific goals and preferences, keeping the sport interesting and engaging.
Competition and goal setting
Participating in track cycling events provides a platform for friendly competition and striving for both individual and shared goals. Setting and achieving performance targets can be highly motivating and contribute to a sense of accomplishment and self-discipline.
This can be a time-efficient form of exercise, so you don’t necessarily have to set aside hours at a time for beginners’ track cycling. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions on the track, for example, can deliver significant cardiovascular benefits in a relatively short amount of time.
Adrenaline rush and enjoyment
The thrill of riding on a banked velodrome, especially during competitive events, can provide an adrenaline rush and a unique sense of enjoyment. The combination of speed, strategy, and, in team events, teamwork, adds to the overall excitement of the sport.
Track cycling tips for beginners
If you’re looking for some advice to help you get comfortable with entering the sport, here are some tips for track cycling for beginners.
Take a velodrome orientation session
Many velodromes offer orientation sessions for beginners. These sessions cover the basics of track cycling, safety rules, and proper riding techniques. Taking one of these, with an experienced rider, can boost your confidence and ensure that you’re well-prepared.
Start with a fixed-gear bike
Track bikes are typically fixed-gear models, meaning there’s no freewheel. This design helps in developing a smooth pedal stroke and better control on the track. Get used to riding a fixed-gear bike before hitting the velodrome.
Practice riding in a straight line
Riding in a straight line is crucial on the velodrome. Practise this skill on a flat surface before attempting it on the banked track. It’s essential for safety and maintaining a consistent speed.
Learn to ride the banking
Riding on the banking requires a shift in body position. Gradually increase your comfort level by riding higher on the banking during each session. This will help you to maintain speed in turns.
Work on your endurance
Velodrome events can be physically demanding, so build your endurance through regular training rides. Focus on both speed and sustained practice to prepare for different types of races.
Seek guidance from experienced riders
Don’t hesitate to ask for advice from experienced track cyclists or coaches. They can provide valuable tips on technique, strategy, and training specific to velodrome cycling.
Always prioritise safety. Wear the necessary protective gear, including a helmet, gloves, and eye protection, to avoid debris from the tracks. Follow all velodrome rules, be aware of other riders on the track and communicate with them effectively. Stay aware of your surroundings to reduce the chance of potential accidents.
Enjoy the process
Enjoy the learning journey, set realistic goals, and celebrate your progress along the way.
Remember, like any sport, improvement comes with consistent practice and dedication. Stay focused, be patient, and most importantly, have fun.
Get cycling insurance with SportsCover Direct
Getting out into the velodrome and honing your cycling skills takes a lot of focus. For that season, having the right mindset is key to mastering your new sport. If you’re worrying about potential accidents or injuries, improving your track cycling abilities becomes more difficult. This means having the right insurance in place is absolutely essential for putting your mind at ease.
SportsCover Direct’s cycling insurance has been designed to give protection for worldwide holidays, sportives and events. With three different policy options, you can tailor it to your needs. Our cycling travel insurance covers you abroad, whether you’re enjoying the sport for leisure or cycling competitively. It offers cover for medical costs, cancelled trips and more. If you already have travel insurance, our bolt-on allows you to add the protection you need for cycling. You can also opt for our sports accident insurance, which has been created to protect you while cycling in the UK.
Find out more and get an instant quote designed to suit you.
This blog has been created as general information and should not be taken as advice. Make sure you have the correct level of insurance for your requirements and always review policy documentation.