Knowledge Level: Beginner
With six indoor velodromes now open to the public in the UK, Calshot, Manchester, Newport, Glasgow, Derby and London, and more outdoor facilities being given face lifts or built from scratch, there’s never been a better time to get involved in track cycling.
Most tracks offer public taster sessions where you can usually hire a bike and, with instruction from a coach, take your first few laps around the track. To progress you then have to work through an accreditation system. On passing this you’ll be qualified to take part in more advanced structured training sessions and to race.
With the introduction of a UK wide accreditation scheme for indoor velodromes, each venue will be providing data of accredited riders on existing customer databases to British Cycling membership services. Therefore if you are a current British Cycling member, and have a current indoor track accreditation then you will get an endorsement on your British Cycling membership card (UKIVA).
If you are accredited at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome Glasgow, Lee Valley VeloPark London or the Wales National Velodrome Newport, and you have a “UKIVA” endorsement on your current British Cycling membership card, you can apply for Probationary Accreditation at other main UK indoor velodromes.
The exact accreditation process will differ from venue to venue but the end result of making you a safe and competent rider will be the same.
The outdoor velodromes are not currently part of the UK wide accreditation scheme and each will have its own accreditation process. For information contact them directly or find a Cycling Club near you that offers track riding.
Here are some top tips for successfully working through the accreditation process at any velodrome.
Whether you’re on your first taster session or an experienced rider on an SQT (Structured Quality Training) session, listen to the coach. Even though their feedback might be negative and they might not sign off your slip to allow you to progress to the next level, they’re telling you something that you need to know to become a better rider.
Sometimes experienced road riders come and expect to breeze through the process and then get frustrated if the coach pulls them up. Be receptive, act on their feedback, don’t think that you know better and remember, the coaches want to put you through.
One of the first and most important coaching points you’ll get is to always look before you move on the track. Constant observation and awareness of other riders is crucial for both safety and success on the track. Make a conscious concerted effort from your first ever lap and it will soon become second nature.
It’s a thorough process for a reason. All of the coaches are active riders and the question that they’re constantly asking themselves is would they be happy taking part in a session that you were riding and following your wheel.
You have to reach a standard that makes you safe to be on the track with other riders. Unfortunately we live in a litigious society and, if you’re not safe, the track might be held responsible if you cause an accident.
Get on the track regularly
Regular track time is essential for making it through an accreditation process. You’ve got to practice the skills and techniques so that you become relaxed, confident and safe on the track. If you leave weeks or months between sessions, you won’t progress. Even if they’re aren’t other suitable riders on the session to allow you to demonstrate your skills to the coach, practice dummy changes and looking and moving up and down the track. No time on the track is wasted time, even if you don’t get your slip signed off.
Find some friends
Find a group of four or five friends to work through the accreditation process with. That way you’ll always know there will riders of a similar standard at the sessions you attend, who want to demonstrate the same skills to the coach and who’s wheels you’re confident to follow.
Join a club
If you’re lucky enough to live near a velodrome, look into which local clubs offer track riding. They’ll often book club sessions where you can work closely with a coach and work through the accreditation process with a group of club mates.