I had never ridden on the boards before and wanted to try it out. Previously, my only velodrome experiences have been Hawthorn, Edithvale, Parker Park in Carnegie and Brunswick. The one is Hawthorn doesn't really have much of an embankment where as Brunswick has the steepest of the ones I have been on. These are all outdoor velodromes (free public access).
I needed to pay for the session in advanced and as I am not a Blackburn CC member, it was $15 for the Foundation class. I packed my bike the night before including what to wear on track. As the session is held indoors, it wouldn't be as cold as my sessions at Brunswick so no need for 3/4 thermal bibs and long sleeves. I just had short bibs and short sleeved jersey which is similar to what I wear to spin classes.
I arrived early (as always) as I needed to drive along Punt Road and the route can take up to an hour. I ended up arriving at 5:30pm which gave me plenty of time to change into my cycling kit and waited around for the start time of 6pm. A few of the hardcore juniors started to arrive at the same time but their session starts at 7pm but they needed to have a warm up on rollers before their session starts on the boards.
The main coach asked me to ride around the bottom along the barriers for a few laps to get myself warmed up a bit before the foundation coach came for my session. Andrew was the coach allocated to me and we started off the session by getting my speed up so I can be more comfortable about riding up past the blue line.
So we started out with ave speeds at 25 along the black line and then for every lap we increased the speed and was in the sprinter's zone (between black and red) and along the red line (sprinter's line) and then in between the red and stayer's line (blue) for a few laps and then eventually along the stayer's line. I wasn't confident enough for the stayer's line at this point as the embankment was steeper than what I had done before and my body position on the bike was foreign.
After the warm up, the next training set was to ride on the stayer's line along the straight and then down to the black line along the turns. I was more comfortable with this as the flow of the bike seems more natural. As I was getting more comfortable about my ability to be riding along the Stayer's line, the next set we increased our speed up for 2 laps along the blue followed by a power sprint for a whole lap on the black. I got up to my highest speed of 40.3km/hr. The last session involved me riding along closer to the fence on the straights and then coming down to the stayer's line on the turns which felt more comfortable as I finally could figure out what my body needed to do to stay comfortable.
I finished the session at 7am when the normal session started for others. I stayed for a few minutes to watch and they were doing rolling turns but at a speed much higher than what I was riding at and peeling off above the stayer's line and then re-joining the back of the queue just passed the turn...it was mesmerising to watch and looking forward to the day when I can comfortably join them in this session.
|Took this photo of the main session. I am not in this group, maybe one day.|
I did have a few moments of anxiety during that evening. I was totally out of my comfort zone and in no way shape or form to be able to train with the current calibre of cyclist who race. When I was doing my session, I felt eyes on me by the juniors (90% of them being boys under 18) and this made me feel insecure and intimidated. I felt my heart rate being high during those sessions, worrying about falling off the embankment, crashing and being too embarrassed to return (the reason why I don't race CX). As I was the most inexperienced rider that day, the pressure to not f&#k things up was exponential. I know in reality it may be all in my mind but these are the factors which goes through my mind when I do something I am not familiar with coupled with menopausal hot flushes, it can be overwhelming!
I have signed up for the session again on Monday 26th June. Looking forward to learning more skills even if it is about getting more comfortable at higher speeds, cadence and being able to ride up against the embankment at the turns.