Track racing is suitable to all riders and it is a fantastic training tool for the road rider to work on their bike handling and sprint skills.
Our club helps our junior riders to participate in the NJTS (National Junior Track Series) where Juniors get to compete against all the others around Australia on the timber tracks. Any one of them will tell you that it is a great learning experience.
We also have track cyclists in Elite and Masters categories and typically we run a dedicated training session on Tuesday evenings at Chandler.
There are many opportunities to try track cycling. All you need to do is to contact one of the club officials and they can point you in the right direction.
About Track Cycling
Track cycling has been around since at least 1870. When cycling was in its infancy, wooden indoor tracks were laid which resemble those of modern velodromes, consisting of two straights and slightly banked turns. Early track races attracted crowds of up to 2000 people.Track cycling is a great sport to watch as you can see the whole race while sitting in the stands and there is always something exciting that could happen throughout the events. Indoor tracks also enabled year-round cycling for the first time.
In Queensland we only have outdoor tracks at present however a new indoor track is being built at the Frank Sleeman Sports Complex at Chandler for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Track lengths to vary from the 333m cement track found in Chandler, Rockhampton and Townsville to the 250m indoor tracks that are in Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth. Launceston indoor track is a little different as it is 283m long. Each track is also different as they have different angle on the backing and the lengths of the straights.
On a dedicated track bicycle there are few components, with no need for brakes or derailleurs (and therefore shifters). In fact the only moving part on a bicycle is the drivetrain, which includes the cranks, pedals, the single chainring, one cog fixed to the hub without a freewheel mechanism and the chain itself.Given the importance of aerodynamics, the riders’ sitting position becomes extremely important. The riding position is similar to the road racing position, but is ultimately dependent on the frame geometry of the bicycle and the handlebars used.
Handlebars on track bikes used for longer events such as the points race are similar to the drop bars found on road bicycles. However, in the sprint event the rider’s position is more extreme compared with a road rider. The bars are lower and the saddle is higher and more forward. Bars are often narrower with a deeper drop. Steel bars, as opposed to lighter alloys or carbon fibre, are still used by many sprinters for their higher rigidity and durability.
Track Cycling Events
Track Cycling events fit into two broad categories, sprint races and endurance races. Riders will typically fall into one category and not compete in the other. Riders with good all round ability in the junior ranks will decide to focus on one area or another before moving up to the senior ranks.
Sprint races are generally between 8 and 10 laps in length and focus on raw sprinting power and race tactics over a small number of laps to defeat opponents. Sprint riders will train specifically to compete in races of this length and will not compete in longer endurance races.
- Sprint: A head-to-head contest between two riders over three laps of the track. Competition begins with a timed 200 metre run which decides the seeding for the knockout rounds. Racing is highly tactical yet explosive, with slow ‘cat and mouse’ tactical battles followed by all-out drag races for the line.
- Team sprint: A standing start all-out effort, the team sprint involves three riders over three laps for the men and two riders over two laps for the women. At the end of each lap the front rider leaves the track until only one remains. Races are short and thrilling, with titles decided by thousandths of a second.
- Keirin: Japanese for ‘fight’, the keirin is one for the sprinters. Riders jostle for position behind a pacing motorbike, called a ‘derny’. The pace is increased over a series of laps until with two and a half laps to go, the derny leaves the track and it’s a straight fight for the line. Often physical and explosive, the ‘fight’ always lives up to its name.
- Track time trial: A pure standing start effort against the clock, the time trial is 500 metres for the women and a kilometre for the men. Either way, it’s known as one of the most punishing of the track disciplines, often favouring sprint athletes towards the ‘endurance’ end of the spectrum.
Endurance races are held over much longer distances. While these primarily test the riders endurance abilities, the ability to sprint effectively is also required in the Madison, Points Race and Scratch Race. The length of these races varies from 12–16 laps for the Individual and Team Pursuit races, up to 200 laps for a full length Madison race in World Championships or Olympic Games.
- Individual pursuit: A head-to-head race for the endurance athletes, the individual pursuit sees 2 riders begin from opposite sides of the track, who literally “pursue” each other for 4000 metres (3000 metres for women). After qualifying, the four fastest competitors compete for the medals, the fastest two vying for gold and silver, while the third and fourth fastest qualifiers battle for bronze. In the finals, if a rider catches their opponent, the gun is fired and the race is over. Otherwise, the first rider across the line wins.
- Team pursuit: Similar to the individual pursuit but for teams of four riders. Both men and women compete over 4000 metres in this technically exacting discipline, which sees teams ride in formation often just a few centimetres apart. After qualifying, the four fastest teams compete for the medals, the fastest two vying for gold and silver, with the third and fourth fastest qualifiers battle for bronze. In the finals, if a team catches their opponents, the gun is fired and the race is over. Otherwise, the first team across the line wins.
- Scratch race: The scratch race is the simplest of all the endurance events. It’s a bunch race over a set distance and the first across the line wins. Despite its simplicity, the scratch race can be an enthralling contest, with breakaways, lap gains and bunch sprints.
- Points race: The points race is a bunch event over a set distance with points available at ‘intermediate sprints’ for the first four riders across the line. Points are also given for lapping the field and the rider with the most points at the end wins. Sounds simple but in reality the points race is one of the most physically and mentally demanding of the track disciplines, with speed, stamina, technical skill and tactical awareness all required in large amounts.
- Madison: The Madison is named after Madison Square Gardens in New York, one of the birthplaces of track racing. The Madison is a ‘relay’ event for teams of two riders who take turns racing over a set distance. Like the points race, there are points available for intermediate sprints and lap gains and as in the points, stamina, speed, technique and tactical awareness are paramount.
- Omnium: The omnium is a multi-event discipline akin to the heptathlon in athletics. An event for the all rounder with a mix of sprint, endurance, individual and bunch events, the omnium rewards consistency across two days of competition. Riders are scored according to finishing position in each event before the drama of the final event, the points race, in which riders can lose or gain points, the rider with the highest total crowned the winner.
- Handicap or ‘Hare and Hounds’: A track handicap event is one in which the strongest riders are given the greatest distance to travel in accordance with past performances with the aim of equalising the competition between all riders. Handicap events are typically held over 1000m – 2000m. Riders must start at the mark given to them by the Handicapper.
- Elimination: The Elimination, Miss and Out, or “Devil take the hindmost” is a race in which the last rider across the finish line every (other) lap is withdrawn from the race. One by one the field is whittled down to the final two or three riders then sprint for first second and third place.
N.B. Some text on this page has been drawn from Wikipedia and reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.