Cyclists on track

Wed 4 Jul 2018

So I’m well and truly on my Accreditation pathway, having completed my stage 1 and 2, it was time for Stage 3! In-between these stages I’d joined another women’s novice session to get some more track time which I found really beneficial, however the normal nerves were very much present. This session is 2 hours long, so maybe grab a bigger breakfast to fuel you for the whole event. I had my porridge so I was feeling pretty strong.

Coach Carl was leading the session and there were 6 of us taking part in our stage 3 accreditation with an accredited rider joining to set a good pace and build our confidence. To warm up we headed onto the track and went single file in our group which progressed into riding consistently within 1⁄2 meter of the wheel in front- I think I’ve finally got the hang of this, wiggling my fingers and a smile was gradually covering my face. Track really is fun! We had constant reminders of observation from Carl, this is key for safety. We then took part in changes from front to back. Completing the change effectively within 1 lap was proving to be quite difficult, but after a few hiccups I think we nailed it. Pace is super important here also when managing speed and distance between you and other riders.

We were then called off the track for a quick break and a catch up, with some feedback from Carl on how that all went. More reminders of observation, so always looking was hot topic and keeping a good speed on the bends, safety first folks!

Up next, changing in pairs! Key things to remember here are to relax, keep looking and riding in a straight line. We were asked to ride side-by-side, and move together up to the blue line, letting the pack undertake us before we joined onto the back. This action had to be completed in a lap! It’s up to us to communicate between ourselves in our pairs. Now, this isn’t an opportunity for a chat about the weather, but I do forget this. It’s so funny having another rider slotting in above you, but I enjoyed the meet and greet and bringing the more social aspect of track forward and it helps take my nerves away.

Once this activity is over I think it opens up more conversation in the group and everyone is more chatty. We were called down for another break and briefed on our next challenge -STACK. Now what is stack you say? Well, as we discussed in our group, stacks usually come in good things, for example Pringles, waffles, pancakes, so surely, a track stack could only mean something good. However, when informed by Carl that stack meant actually riding closely side by side other riders and I don’t think our theory applied. Nerves now kicking back in we headed back onto the track to perform the stack! We created a ‘stack’ of us seven riders into two groups of 3 and 4, and were instructed to change from the bottom to the top at designated points. I’m not going to lie, I wiggled my fingers A LOT! But after a couple laps I got into it, and stack wasn't so bad, I’d prefer some Pringles but I wasn’t in a position to be picky.

Kelly and Coach Carl

Back down for the last time and we were thrown another task, chain gang! This is a crucial part to stage 3 and something that needs to be done. Like stack, this was completely new to me. Carl lay out some cones to show how the process worked which was super helpful. It’s a hard one to explain, but you’re basically riding in two lines in your group closely together with riders coming off the front and then joining at the back. You end up making a sort of circular motion in your group, where you’re all constantly revolving around- like a chain even! So with a ‘here goes nothing’ attitude we all jumped back on our bikes and attempted to perform the chain gang. One lap down and it wasn’t really working out, so we were called off the track. Now this time Carl got us off the bike and lined up. Another demonstration of what a chain gang would look like, and we were let back on our bikes. This time a little more aware of what we were to do. The good news here was we successfully completed a chain gang, the bad news was it was SO SCARY haha. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it though. All done, a big sigh of relief, we all passed our stage 3, mega! Another great group of people, and super fun session, now onto stage 4!