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The FASTEST Way Around the Velodrome

Spending hours and hours training, eating well, getting yourself mentally prepared, ensuring you’re injury free and strong, etc... etc... are all paramount to your cycling success.

BUT don’t forget a few of the one percenters that can make an enormous difference - simply by being aware of them when you are training and racing.

One of those ‘one percenters’ is the way in which you ride around the track.

Whether you’re on a 250m or 333m track, the SHORTEST way around the Velodrome is riding the BLACK LINE.

This measurement line is the exact length of the track, it's the closest line to the bottom and is usually black in colour.

This is a really important tip to remember, particularly if you are riding timed events such as the individual pursuit, kilo, flying 200m, and team events.

If you’re riding above the black line you’re potentially travelling not just centimetres of extra distance, but METERS!!!

Think about it when considering these situations:

  1. A rider PIPPED you on the line by literally centimetres in the sprint.
  2. Just missing the World Record by a tenth of a second.
  3. Finishing the flying 200m just outside the qualification cut off.
  4. Missing out on a medal in the individual pursuit by a half a meter.
  5. Your team pursuit missed qualification by two tenths of a second.

The above situations happen all the time on a world stage.

When it comes down to tenths and thousandths of a second separating medal positions on the podium, it's really important to focus on key areas of performance, such as riding efficiently and taking the fastest line around the track.

So, how much of a difference does riding the black line make?

It’s a good question, no two tracks are identical, they can have different angles, bankings and structures, but one thing is for sure – there will be a definite line to take which is the fastest.

For the sake of this blog, let’s use the Manchester Velodrome as an example and we’re going to analyse times assuming a rider is following the black line all the way around the track. 

Whilst the black line is the shortest, there are some tracks and situations where it may not be the fastest (depending on angles etc.).

You may have noticed some elite riders actually travel up to the red line in the straights, and then back onto the black in the bends, which in their situation, is the fastest way around.

It is very track dependent and is well worth researching as you travel to and race on different tracks.

Manchester Velodrome is a 250m indoor Velodrome with approximately 42 degree bankings and the blue line is approximately 5 meters higher than the black line.

With a 5 meter differentiation from the black to the blue line, the calculated difference in the 250m perimeter is approximately 15m.

That’s right, approximately 15 METERS!!!

This is the extra difference you travel when riding on the blue line as opposed to the black line.

Here’s another one...

On average, if the width of the sprinters lane is 0.9m (about correct on Manchester Velodrome), the difference between riding the black line and riding the red line is an additional 5.7meters per 250m.

So if you ride the red line as opposed to the black line per 250m lap:

  • Your 500m time trial will be 511.4 meters
  • Your 1000m time trial will be 1022.8 meters
  • Your 4000m pursuit will be 4091.2 meters

See how important it is to stay close to the black line?

For the fun of it, let’s equate that to speed and time assuming the following circumstances:

Can you imagine, riding 6.8 seconds faster in your Individual Pursuit over 4 kilometres just by hugging the black line all the way around the track?

It’s an easy win, and definitely worthwhile practicing and keeping this simple tip in the forefront of your mind when you line up for your next big event.

Sometimes it can be a challenge to ride the quickest way around the track, and this can be due to a number of factors including:

  • Weather conditions
  • Using disc wheels
  • Riding in an advanced aerodynamic position on the bike

These variables can be controlled by having good stability strength.

Having strong stability strength, in particular your core, will allow you to be efficient on the bike when transferring power from your upper body through to the legs - and also to maintain good control of the bike at higher speeds on the steep backs of the velodrome.

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