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Attention Road Riders: How Track Cycling Will Help Your Road Cycling Performance

Question: Bradley Wiggins, Rohan Dennis, Mark Cavendish, Taylor Phinney, Jack Bobridge all have what in common?

Answer: They’ve all been champions in BOTH track and road cycling environments.

Track cycling isn’t as common a sport as most would think, in fact there seems to be a perception that track cycling doesn’t cater for the recreational market.

However, if you’re a road rider, and haven’t experienced riding track, you’re missing out on the benefits that track cycling lends to road cycling performance.

Here's 3 of the most important benefits that track cycling will have on your road performance:

  1. Efficiency
  2. Physiology
  3. Bike Handling

Efficiency

When we refer to efficiency, we are talking about a number of areas such as:

  • A rider’s ability to reduce unnecessary movements to ensure a direct power line
  • A rider’s ability to maximise all areas of the pedal stroke, and the consistency of generated force from left to right
  • A rider’s ability to retain consistent power outputs over determined periods of time

When you only ride a road bike, pedal stroke rates are subject to change based on the added variable of the free spinning wheel and multiple gearing combinations.

When riding a track bike, you take away the rider’s ability to both free wheel (stop pedalling) and change gears whilst riding, which improves pedalling efficiency.

When riding on the track, you also take out external variables such as road surfaces, hills and frequent directional changes allowing the rider to focus almost entirely on the rate of force production throughout each pedal stroke on a pre-determined gear. 

Physiology

Track endurance events, particularly the pursuit and points race, are high intensity events which make for an ideal environment for road cyclists to develop their aerobic system.

The pursuit is an event that usually lasts within 2.5 and 5 minutes (depending on the gender and age bracket of the rider).  This event is heavily reliant on a well developed anaerobic and aerobic energy system, which is something that isn't usually experienced in road racing environments unless key events happen within the race such as attacks, priemes and hills. 

In road racing events, whilst the volume is usually very high, it’s often in the key events (crosswinds, primes, attacks and hills) that the race is usually won or lost.

If you're a road cyclist, then spending more time training in higher intensities on the track, will help you better capitalise on key events that occur within road races when it counts the most!

Bike Handling

Track riders don’t have brakes and thus have to use their bodies and the track bankings to either increase or decrease speed, change directions and navigate themselves around other bike traffic.

In developing these skills, track riders gain the confidence to be able to retain full control over themselves and their bike which is really important when jumping into a road environment.

In addition to navigating the roads and other riders, cars, buses and truck traffic are added variables that road riders are forced to negotiate when out riding, and the demand for rider safety increases substantially.

Whether you’re training to ride in a road charity event or just amongst your mates, having a good set of bike handling skills will set you up for riding success.

You’ll not only feel more confident, but you'll also reduce the risk of injury to both yourself, other riders and traffic.

Are you a road rider that trains on the track? If so, have you experienced the benefits on the road from training on the track? Leave us a comment in the box below! We’d love to hear from you.

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