here's the thing. i live in central california smack dab between LA and SF, and i've been wanting to hit the drome for a while now for a training session. i'm guessing San Jose will be my best bet, as it's the closest (i believe) track. i'm willing to make the 3 hour drive up there...but my main concern is --- will it be worth the drive?
i guess i'm wondering how intensive an intro practice session is. i'd really love to make a trip if it means being able to ride for a few hours until my legs feel like they're going to fall off, and learning some about technique, etiquette, etc. on the track.
if they're just going to throw me on my bike and take me on a few laps around the track and call it a day, maybe i'll reconsider.
Well, I would wait a couple weeks for Hellyer. The New Years storm took down some trees in the Park, and there was damage to the fence. They did a ton of work this last weekend, but it is not yet gauranteed to be open for this weekends beginners session(they hope to get it fixed during the week, or else on Saturday..but are dependent on the weather, supervisors, and contractors to do the work)
With that being said, the beginners session is a pretty fun time.
They get all the riders together and talk about the lines on the track, etiqutue for safe riding on the track, etc. The do not really focus much on "technique" since there are all sorts of races on the track, and the beginers session is actually an intro to riding on the track as opposed to a track racing clinic(Though we have those coming up in Feb.)
It typically starts out with a 30-40 lap warmup run as a paceline, with each person taking a 1 lap pull. It starts slow, but builds until the last few laps often have people being dropped.
After the warmup, each individual supervisor(different each week) will do their own program.
They often will have you pair up and do "bumping drills" to get used to contact on the track. After that you will do madison slings-showing you how to do the exchange for the madison.
Another drill is the ribbon drill where you have a group of 10 or so people following the leader, up and down the banking so you get a feel of how your speed bleeds off when you go up, and you pick up speed as you head down.
We have also done 4 person TeamPursuit style excercises where you have a team on each side doing a 4K pursuit, doing exchanges either half lap or full lap depending on strength.
Another drill is to do 200 meter leadouts...2 each group(of 2 riders) so each gets to be the leadout man, and the "sprinter'
Another common drill is to "take a lap" that is when the whole group of riders rides as a pack with it being divided into groups of 3..after a couple laps, the whistle will be blown and a group of 3 will jump off the front, form a paceline and take a lap on the field, after a suitable time, the next group will be sent off.
We have also done flying 1 laps(in groups of 4)
Depending on how much time is left, there have been australian pursuit races-all riders go up to the rail at a lightpost hopefully equally spread out around the track..the whistle blows and people are knocked out when passed..it continues until 1 is left...or sometimes after it is down to only a couple left, they will put a couple laps on the board and run it as a scratch race.
After that is done they usually have 1 or 2 scratch races in lenght from 5-10 laps.
The session officially runs from gates opening at 8:30 to 11:30..but I often am just leaving the track around noon or so. I am ALWAYS tired at the end..if I am not, that just means I did not push myself hard enough in the efforts.
Custom Richie Ditta Track Bike, Eddie Merckx Corsa, Marioni Custom Pista, Dolan Cyclocross
If you've ever wanted to ride on a track, you need to do it. The saturday morning sessions at Hellyer are a blast.
I loved riding the beginner sessions at Hellyer. You definitely get a lot of track time, a lot of time to work on skills such as exchanges, using the banking for speed, pulling etc. The coaches (esp Terry Shaw) are excellent and theres normally one or two very experienced riders helping out and guiding you.
I would go home really knackered after a 3hr session but grinning like a fool.
Theres normally a very mixed ability and age group at the beginners sessions which is great and keeps it from being overly competitive. It also means that for the team racing practice, you have to work as a team or you will lose.
They also have a pretty decent rental fleet if you don't have your own bike but I would get there early to get a bike that fits well. If you are bringing your own bike ensure that you have a gearing suitable for the track (48x15) or similar. Will need drops and obviously no brakes.
Bring your own pedals and helmet. Also found that a pedal wrench and a set of allen keys are invaluable when dealing with the rental bikes, but generally someone has brought some tools and is willing to share.
Oh and pack a little snack for afterwards as Hellyer is right on the edge of San Jose and you'll be starving
I forsee myself and hopefully a sf/east bay posse heading down not this weekend, but the next. there's a lot of skiing to do this weekend, but asap i need to do my 3rd morning session so i'm checked out to race.
or you could come to l.a. for the weekend and ride two tracks-encino and the adt center.
at encino we have a madison training class on sat mornings
the adt has a schedule posted somewhere, but you have to take a class to get certified to ride on it. you might want to have some other velodrome experience before you hit the adt center though-those 45º wood banks can be intimidating
I've ridden both tracks in one day more than once-- it's about 40 minutes to 1.5 hours (depending on traffic) between them. They're both very different, but both a lot of fun, and have different but complementary programs. The first time I did it I was tempted to head to San Diego and sneak onto their track, too, just to say I had ridden all three in one day.
For ADT if you're an experienced racer you should check into the accelerated class-- sometimes you can do that, and then ride at Race School right after. If you haven't raced and you're totally new to track, you might want to go for the longer class. People I know who've taken it say it's really good-- you get a lot of time with Roger Young, who is a great coach and really supports people at all levels-- a lot of people who ride there for fun don't race track (or not much). There's also a "First Ride" deal that's by appointment, and gets you a taste of it for $15 (and probably leaves you wanting more). Don't be afraid to have your first track experience be ADT-- once you're up on the boards it's flat (at least locally). Lots of people learn on tracks like that, and it's *way* fun.
The racing school is a lot of fun, and really has helped my racing over the past year. You usually get 3-4 fairly intense practice races, often longer races than the typical local omnium includes.
The Encino intro classes are also pretty good, and will get you started comfortably. You would probably have to work at it to slip off encino, and depending on your fitness level it probably won't kick your butt, though if you're not used to a fixed gear it could be harder on your legs than you realize.
Encino also has various training sessions that are good-- tuesday night practice races, and on weekends there has been Keirin school, run by a former Keirin pro. Right now there's a madison series on saturday morning that has been a lot of fun. You should be comfortable riding close to other people at moderate speeds to do the madison thing, but no prior madison experience is necessary.
thanks for posting the links. i was too lazy to take a minute and post them.
i'm doing the madison thing now at encino. the whole point is to get people with no madison experience out there and learn how to make the exchanges. we actually had one of the top racers at encino show up for the practice because even though he wins most of the races he's never done a madison before and wants get practice so that he doesn't do something stupid in a race
I was doing the exchanges with Eddie during the warmup paceline this past sunday. I've only been doing madisons for about a year, and not that many (about 5 races), though I've done a bunch of the training sessions down at ADT, too. I got hooked after a few sessions down there.