Track Bike… Is that you?
How to prepare for a return to the velodrome.
It has been a challenging year to ride our track bikes consistently. This is probably an understatement. Hopefully we will be able to resume programing in August and September, by which time it will have been six months. For others it may have been since the first lockdown in March 2020- a full year and a half! When we finally get to blow the collective dust off of our track bike here are some things to be aware of!
- Check your tubulars!!
Your tires (and centrifugal force) are the only thing holding you to a 45-degree banking- having poor condition tires can have catastrophic consequences at speed on a fixed gear. You should check your tires every couple months regardless, but especially when you’ve not been on the bike for a prolonged period such as this. Check the tires to make sure the rubber is in good shape and that the tread is still snuggly glued to the casing, examine the sidewalls for scuffs and in general asses the condition. Then check your glue – it will have hardened over time and if you can push the tire off the rim with your thumbs when the tire is semi inflated you absolutely need to reglue the tire. If in any doubt replace the tires. Cycling Canada’s mechanics write the dates on their tires in pen, so they know when they’re due to be replaced.
- Fresh cleats!
Your pedal interface is critical for both performance and safety on the track- pulling a foot out can have catastrophic consequences at speed on a fixed gear (this is a theme of this article). Check out those cleats and if they are looking worn or have little flapping bits of rubber it is time to replace them! Especially if you have been using the same shoes on the road where you are more likely to be waling around in gravel, or up and down your driveway, you can go through cleats fast. Some riders avoid this by having track specific shoes (additional benefits include being able to leave them in your locker so you do not forget them and keeping white shoes extra minty).
- Give the whole bike a once over!
Remember how you were in a rush to leave provincials and just pulled off your aerobars and popped you’re drop bars on thinking “I’ll finish tightening that up this Tuesday,” and then they locked the building and you have not touched your bike in 18 months? No? Ya, better off checking over everything (bolts, wheels ect) to make sure it’s all snug and tight. That way you can avoid the above-mentioned catastrophic consequences at speed on a fixed gear.
- Go up a tooth.
This one does not have catastrophic consequences, but if you have been on your road or track bike a lot, then the high cadence of a track bike will feel choppy at first. Start off in a little bigger gear than normal and then drop it back down after the first ride or two. When you start to get comfortable try and do at least some of your training under geared – the leg speed gains will pay off in efficiency when things start going fast on the blue line in the drop-ins or in a race!
- Put white handlebar tape on and tape the whole bar including the tops.
There is no actual reason for this other than it’s just the way it is.
Elia Viviani only gets part marks for bar tape here, but he’s winning the Olympics so we will let it slide.