Olympics 2012: how to get involved in track cycling


When the Thighmaster himself, Chris Hoy, clinched his sixth Olympic gold track medal, he topped off an achievement that all the haters (mainly the French) said was impossible, as Britain dominated the track cycling for the second Games in a row. This was despite changes to the cycling events some might have seen as designed to wrongfoot the new world power. Britain has traditionally been better on the track than the road, with current Tour de France champ Bradley Wiggins cutting his teeth in the velodrome and contributing two golds to our Beijing total.

The basics

A sport for those already proficient at road cycling, the track form consists of a number of sprint and endurance events, conducted on bikes designed to minimise drag. It’s a fantastic spectator sport, since all the action is contained within the varnished wooden oval, while watching road cycling can be anticlimactic to say the least, since unless you’re on a circular course the competitors only pass you once.

Health benefits

As with all cycling, a superb cardiovascular workout. The specific benefits vary according to the kind of ride you specialise in.

Equipment, costs and practicalities

Track bikes are extremely light – often weighing as little as 7kg – and narrow, and lack brakes and gears, which makes for hair-raising riding in a pack. The wheels are often filled-in and made from carbon fibre. As it’s a specialist sport, opportunities for beginners to get involved are slightly more restricted. British Cycling invite you to get down to the indoor tracks at Manchester, Newport and Calshot to take part in taster sessions, for which proper track bikes can be hired and coaching is provided.

Trendiness rating: 8/10

We’re very good at it, but track cycling only seems to surface every four years, when our athletes emerge from their training bunkers and win everything. A sport for the serious rather than social rider.

Inside line

Jon Norfolk, British Cycling: “The fast and exhilarating sport of track cycling is accessed through a number of indoor and outdoor tracks around the country. Most tracks and associated clubs offer coaching and kit hire to equip you with the skills you’ll need to get started. Britain’s indoor tracks – Manchester, Newport, Calshot and Glasgow – all run regular taster sessions where newcomers are taken through the necessary skills by a trained coach. The sessions are fun, cheap and easy – anyone over the age of 12 can take part. More technically and physically testing training sessions are also available. Britain also has a number of outdoor tracks which are used in the summer. You can find your nearest using the club and facilities finder on the British Cycling website.”

Find out more

britishcycling.org.uk – the home of British Cycling.

Chris Hoy on his sixth Olympic gold medal win.

You may also like

Road cycling, athletics.

You might hate

Water polo, judo.

Over to you

Are you a track cyclist? Help us build up this resource by sharing tips, videos, links to clubs and anything else that beginners might find useful.

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