It had been a while since I passed my Stage 2 Accreditation, I think it was back in November 2016 and tonight my Stage 3 had arrived. I had spent some time on the track in between with skills sessions and this seemed to pay off.
After walking the same hall as Wiggins, Cav and Kenny, just to name a few, I changed into Back On Track Cycling colours and headed to the track.
Every time I walk the ramp to the centre of the velodrome it does send a tingle down my spine. Imagining the noise of the crowd and the atmosphere as you enter must be immense. Unfortunately the 10 people sitting in the stands did not provide the same effect.
Checked in again and for the first time in accreditation sessions, I was handed a numbered bib. This was in a baby blue with a black number on a white background. I was not happy that it ruined my whole cycling image, no hiding from the coach this time. A lot of people started to arrive and was the biggest group I had ridden with, 22 in total but we ended up being split.
I started talking to other attendees and learnt getting to know each other before circling the track is a must. Rosco arrived with a very nice and new BMC track bike, Mike a TT specialist, Paul a fellow roadie and Hammy, part of the Pakistan Olympic Track Team. I say team, he is the only representative. He had flown into the UK and is taking the sessions to gain his qualifications in the shortest time possible. Quite a character, changing his sport from rugby to cycling. Mentioning that the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix are smoother than the velodrome in Pakistan. A concrete velodrome built in 1954 and has not been updated since.
Our group was first on the track, we would be assessed over 3 different disciplines. The first being half lap changes. After a few laps warm up, the group settled in to a nice steady pace. Once the group was settled the changes began to really smooth out and with 10 other cyclist going by it was best to get yourself up to the boards. Returning for a debrief as the other group started their assessment, our coach was happy and mentioned no concerns.
Back to the track for a second time and it was paired changes. This requires good communication between the pairs and the group had certainly cemented this. A lap or two to get reacquainted with the track then into pairs and settle in. Every lap the front two peel off, ride up the bank into single file then allow the rest to pass underneath then drop down onto the back. Timing is everything with changes and we needed to be within half a meter of the wheel in front. Easier said than done, no brakes and a fixed wheel means it’s all about timing. We did have a moment of bottom clenching when the pair on the front did not power away and caused the group to come off their line, it resulted in some panic and unrest. The group were vocal but soon returned back to it’s rhythm.
Our final assessment was for a team pursuit and I love this. Single file on the blue line, pedalling at a resting rate. When the whistle is blown, the first three drop to the sprinters line (black) and with half lap changes, chase the pack down. Again timing the speed to join the back of the group smoothly. With 11 riders the sprint groups rotated, I was in the first sprint team with Hammy and Rosco and Hammy has a lot of power, his rugby days have given a little bit of power in his legs. Changes were nice and smooth and with a smaller group the changes happen later on the bank and height is not so much of a requirement. I was on the front as the group came closer but I miss timed their speed and ended up doing 1/2 a lap more on the front. Happy with that sprint and slowly I moved by way up the line. We ended up doing about 4 sprints and we all pushed it. Sweating and out of breath at the end and if we were all American then it would have been a high 5 moment but we are not and totally British.
Our coach had mentioned that he was happy and gave some further advice but nothing that concerned the group. Now was time for a feedback and if we had passed. 9 people had spoken to the coach and passed. My turn, he asked how I got on and I discussed mistiming the pursuit, which he has not noticed but was happy I had recognised the fact and adjusted accordingly. The only thing he had written down against my number was bike confidence, not a negative observation. On the paired changes I rode very close to the person next to me with ease. He was impressed with this. I did not realise had done this, I looked at it that I did not want to expel too much energy on the banking but I’ll take that.
Just waiting for my card to be updated on the system and I can look at the next accreditation level but realise I will need some more track time.
Legs are feeling it this morning and I was going to ride in London but glad I did not. Need to rest them so may even venture into the gym this afternoon to spin the legs out.