Here are some beginners tips on how to ride safely on a velodrome.
Lines and marks
The track has lines painted on it, which all have a meaning and a purpose.
The White Line (Lidcombe) or Black Line (Dunc Gray Velodrome)
Is the known as the Measurement Line and is the shortest distance (and fastest way) around the track.
When racing, staying close to the Measurement Line will ensure you’ve covered the shortest possible distance.
Distance markers are placed every 10 metres and are used for starting positions in handicap races (Wheel Races).
The Red Line
Is the Sprinter’s Line and the space between the White Line (or Black Line) and the Red Line, is known as the Sprinter’s Lane.
The Blue Line
Is also known as the stayer’s line and is used in Madison races. The resting riders will circulate above the blue line until they are handslung back into action.
When warming up or training, the Blue Line is used to separate fast riders from slower riders, as set out below.
200 Metre Line
Every velodrome has a white line across the track (top to bottom), signifying the final 200 metres of the track.
In the final lap of a race, once the lead rider passes the 200 metre line, they cannot leave the Sprinter’s Lane. They must ‘hold their line’ and stay in the Sprinter’s Lane until the finish line.
If not, they will be relegated by the Commissaire (Official). Passing riders must move around them.
Entering & exiting the track
Always ‘look’ and ‘check’ the track for other riders before entering.
Likewise, always look over your right shoulder before moving up the track to exit.
On the track
Track bikes have no freehub, as such you cannot mentally switch-off and freewheel (stop pedalling), like you can do on a road bike or a mountain bike.
Riders must remember to keep pedalling, especially when they’ve finished an effort on the front of the bunch, or cross the finish line at the end of a race.
If not, riders risk being ejected off the bike, as the cranks / pedals will have too much momentum and will keep turning. Let’s try and avoid that.
Rest assured, once you’ve been riding a track bike for a little while this will all become second nature!
How to slow down?
To slow down, you slow your leg speed and once slowed down enough you can apply some leg resistance (like you are trying to pedal backwards – old school ‘back brake’) to come to a complete stop, on the fence.
Being predictable with your movements on the bike helps riders behind you, or next to you, to feel safe.
Avoid sudden movements, or changes in direction.
If you are pulling off the front of the bunch (swinging up – towards the fence), look over your right shoulder first, to check the track is clear and there isn’t a rider to your right.
Hold your line
Related to ‘being predictable’ is the need to ‘hold your line’, which means to ride in a straight line – as opposed to drifting up or down the track.
It is very important to hold your line, especially in the final 200 metres of a race, where faster riders may be sprinting past you.
Where to ride on the track, when warming up?
Lidcombe – ‘Slow high, fast low’
Slow riders, above the Blue line.
Fast riders, in the Sprinter’s Lane.
Dunc Gray Velodrome – ‘Fast high, slow low’
Fast riders, above the Blue line.
Slow riders, below the Blue line.
Why the difference?
It depends on the gradient of the track. On steeper tracks, which require riders to hold a higher speed when riding up the bank of the track, fast riders stay high on the track during warm up.