Most of us have a road bike in addition to our track bikes and will head out on the road for different types of training rides to assist with our track cycling development.
The road bike is also extremely handy when you’re incorporating a recovery ride into your training program. Road bikes allow us to pedal faster whilst travelling slower aiding in recovery by taking a heavy gearing load away from the legs.
They also allow us to complete a progressive warm up before lining up to race a track or road style event without needing to change gears on your track bike several times - saving valuable time on race day.
The benefits of having a road bike in addition to the track bike are aplenty, but what surprises us when we arrive to coach at a track event is the number of athletes who only bring their track bikes on race day. Sure, bringing your road bike may be a logistical nightmare, but if it’s possible - we’d highly recommend you travel with it on the way to the velodrome.
If your warm up encompasses achieving target cadences on the rollers at certain time intervals, coupled with a few warm up efforts - the road bike is perfect as it allows you to manipulate the gearing to achieve your target cadences before turning to the track bike for any final warm up efforts. This is especially useful if you only have a few gear choices in your track tool bag as the road bike will allow you to start on smaller gears and warm your core body temperature and muscles up before increasing the gear ratios - minimising muscle damage early on. Additionally, with bigger events encompassing lots of competitors, accessing the track to complete your planned warm up efforts isn’t always possible - therefore, if you have a road bike with you, you’ll be better prepared to complete your warm up off the track.
If you’re a sprinter, you’ll really appreciate the luxury having a road bike at the track gives you between sprint rounds. Particularly if the mechanic, (partner-mechanic, friend-mechanic, or anyone else assisting you on race day) is busily changing you gear ratios over before the next round - usually a short 20 minutes later. In this scenario, the road bike allows you to hop off the track after your race, jump on the rollers on your road bike (pretty well straight away) and start clearing lactic acid accumulation before your next race.
The ‘pits’ or ‘infield’ is a pretty big area to walk around and when you need to get from the far side of the infield to the centre or other side, walking around on race day does waste precious energy. If you have a road bike to get from A to B navigating the infield is easy and preferable over riding on your track bike where you run the risk of attaining a puncture more easily on the infield.
If you spend a whole season training for your track event, arriving on race day well prepared and giving yourself the best chance possible to achieve your goals is crucial. The benefits as highlighted above in having your road bike handy on the day will ensure this is possible - so where you can, always take your road bike on race day!