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Last night I took advantage of the last night of the year when I could take my road bike to Herne Hill Velodrome for a spell on the track. I arrived early in the foolish hope that I'd be able to get more time on the track, only to find a school session with track bikes was beginning, so since road and track bikes simply do not mix I had to wait my turn. When I did take to the track it took a while to find my stride, I was immediately disappointed to find I could not really "pull the big one" in top gear, settling for one or two down. I had to pull over after a few minutes to divvy up my fiver (goes towards upkeep and insurance, so can't really grumble), sign the sheet with contact details, don the numbered elastic band (so they know who I am if unconscious!) and surrender my water bottle (made sense, don't want the distraction on a track).

Then back to the track, this time with a few more riders. It turns out Herne Hill is perfect for taking a turn with a road bike, the circuit is wider than the modern Velodrome and the banking a good ten degrees less steep, this gleaned from Wikipedia. I was determined to try an put in a decent average and tried to pace myself whilst making the odd burst and experimenting with an odd half lap here and there slipstreaming form the odd rider. At the end of the session I had put in 54 odd minute ride time and averaged 20.97 mph, which feels OK. I will certainly be extremely proud if I ever turn in stats like that on the open road!

It was quite something to discover the amount of effort slipstreaming cuts out of the ride, especially as it was a very windy day and one side of the circuit much harder work than the other. But I always chose to drop out of any group or rider I was following, wanting the personal challenge and not knowing any of the others. There was one pair of gents quite my senior whom I never could catch despite going many turns of the track - now I can see that since they were pairing they'd have an easier time keeping up a good speed! So to catch them would actually have been a big ask, even if I were fitter than I am.

The odd full on carbon bike whizzed past me from time to time, and not sure I'd ever get on with the peculiar acoustics of those in operation, sounds too much like an airfix kit on wheels for my liking. I struggled to cope with seeing the young teenager in the track class also, because he had a dreamy Pinarello road bike, full Cinelli "designer" riding gear, and clearly a far younger fitter body than I'll ever have again - felt like he had the world handed to him on a plate, and here I am aged 52 with my first decent road bike.... hard not to acknowledge some degree of envy.

My most significant consolation is, of course, our magnificent tandem and the best stoker in the world home I shall be marrying next year, God willing!

05:02 AM | 0 Comments | Tags: , , ,