Following some Go-Anywhere-Biking with some randoms on Saturday, Sunday morning at 8am saw JB and I driving away from home, south, to catch a bus to take us north.
As the bus passed our houses on it’s way north we commented what a lovely day it was, and that instead of sitting on a bus going to Welsh Wales, we should really be riding out here for some general twattery in the late autumn sunshine.
We were on a coach with a gang; wait, no, it wasn’t a gang – there was definitely one of every kind; of cyclists from Mid Devon Cycling Club and we were going to The Velodrome (y’know, the one where That Geraint Thomas lives).
After a 3 hour coach trip that takes half that time in the car, we arrived. So did my nerves.
I’d been making jokes all week about needing to work from A&E on Monday due to Broken Bones, now it didn’t seem quite so funny. MDCC had laid on the whole experience for £20, to include 4 hours coaching, the track to ourselves and bike hire. While they sorted the logistics we went track side to gawp. “Fuck me sideways, that’s fucking steep burd”, I told JB. She looked at me like: well duuuh, yeah, but… I continued “It’s so Fucking Steep burd”. And it was. 42 degrees steep as Coach Brian later informed us.
We stripped to our cycling kit, got divided into groups – Been Before Group and Not Been Before group – and went and got our hire bikes. There weren’t enough to have one each so we hadta buddy with someone in another group. I got buddied with a lady slightly taller than me who insisted we wanted a 56″ frame. Not on your nelly said I, we need a 53″. “Not on my nelly”, said the bike hire man and we compromised on a 54″. He was right.
Everyone was trying out their bikes in the central area. Not me. No fuckin way. That thing’s got no brakes or gears and you can’t free wheel! I’m not getting on that, not on your life! I sat and watched as one by one people got brave and had a little go. There were no disasters. I went and stood by our bike. There. That was enough brave for now.
Eventually I decided that there was nothing for it. So I adjusted the saddle. And went and sat back down :-0 Phew. Still nothing bad.
The Been Before Group were all on track now receiving instruction from their Comedy Coach. This was JB’s group – she’s been before and knew what she was doing. I watched her do a few laps, thinking shit, that looks exciting. Before I knew it she was way up towards the top of that bloody thing and zooming round like she was born for it!. Well, double shit. I want a go at that, but I can’t unless I get on the Fixed Wheel Motherfucker.
Sure no one was looking, I dragged the FWM to the railing and blundered my way on board. Going nowhere near the shoe cages I managed a tentative few laps of the central area and, more crucially, managed to stop again on the railing.
When it was our group’s go Coach Brian had us lined up along the inside of the outside of the track, clinging to the railing for dear life. He ruthlessly tightened our toe-clips so we were One with our Fixies of Doom.
He explained the nuances of the track, “this area here is the Cote D’Azure” – that’s reassuring, I’ve been there, it’s quite nice – “this is the bank – just think of it as a hill” hahahahahahahaha – yeah, ok. Coach explained that the bank angle is the same at the bottom as it is at the top: 42 degrees, so basically if you can ride on the bit at the bottom you can ride the bit at the top. With that, we were sent on our way!
We tottered around the flat bit first for a couple of laps. (Bollox – I forgot to start my Garmin, and I can’t count laps – I can’t even count lengths when I swim – and that only ever goes up to 8). The Coach made us stop – you do this by riding at the railing as slowly as you dare and sliding you hand along until you come to a gradual stop. Get me – I’m an expert now
Off we went again this time onto the very gently banked Cote D’Azure. A couple more laps then stop. What the actual – this is FUN!
Coach said he’d have us riding up past the blue line in 20 minutes. 5 minutes to go Coach…
He sent us off again, onto the banking this time. His only advice was push a bit harder into the banking as if you’re riding up a hill; so I did. Over the black line and up to the red… Over the red line and up to the blue one! Then over the blue line and up to the top… Fuck sake Megster, don’t look down. Won’t do that again!
It felt amazing – you can only hear the boards creaking, your heart racing, and the noise of the bike and the wind rushing past! Round and round! Anyone who thinks this is boring has never tried it! What a buzz.
Get baulked a couple of times by a slower club rider – now, that’s a quick learning curve! Out on the road you’d just free wheel to scrub speed but no such luxury on the fixie – Coach yelled “go higher to loose speed” and past I went!
All too soon the first session was finished, cruised into the railing and wrestled free of the cages. Walking to hand over my Gallant Fixie to Slightly Taller Lady my legs were like jelly! It’s full bore racing, my eyes were dry from not blinking and my mouth was dry from panting!
We had two more sessions, one focused on riding in a line and then pulling off the front of the group to allow them to pass beneath you – that’s a weird sensation, and another where you have to pull away from the group and race around to catch the back of the pack. That’s hard. You’re in the red for lap after lap! JB said she was spanked after that session, I totally know what she meant!
It was a long day and the next time we go (and there will be a next time) we’ll drive ourselves, but it was so worth it. We’ve worked out that we must only have ridden around 12/13 miles but my quads are well aware of it today and my general tired level is right up there!
But I’m not typing this from A&E, and on another tab in Google, I don’t have the Planet X Website open on the Track Bike Page
Well… N+1 innit…