Recap: Track Cycling Clinic

By Cathy Frampton

Many women are collecting in the field house at the Ed Rudolph Velodrome in Northbrook. The Northbrook Cycling Committee is holding their annual Women’s Track Clinic which 2014 Rider of the Year and Chicago Women’s Elite Cycling (CWEC) Development Manager hosts.

Chicago Cuttin’ Crew is assisting most of these women—fitting them to loaner track bikes. The room is filled with bikes. Tires are pumped, flats are changed.

I am standing around somewhat nervously waiting to experience my first time on a track bike. I have my own bike—my  red devil. I ask Francine if I could head out to the track and ride around a bit. She gives me a sideways glance, “Sure, if you feel comfortable enough.” Huh? It’s just a bike… right? 

After my years of riding every kind of bike that coasts, I have developed my own “dance” for getting on my bike… stand on the left pedal, start rolling the bike down the street, and then swing my right leg over my bike and hop on—oh, then clip in the right foot. 

Hop on a fixed gear bike—there is no “stand on the pedal and coast down the street”… that pedal is turning! I felt like a clown at the circus. Once I figured out a new way for getting on the bike and clipping into my pedals—both of them—I was rolling around the track.

What a cool sensation to feel the constant pressure of the pedals turning the wheels beneath you. It’s one of those feelings that I hope I don’t take for granted.

I spun around the track again. Time to get into the clubhouse for the start of the clinic. Uh-oh—how do I get off this thing? I unclipped one pedal and started slowing down but my other leg kept spinning—with each roll down the track, the pedal went around. How do I stop? I passed the field house, unclipped both feet and soft pedaled around trying to figure out my plan. As I came to the final turn, I had my plan – into the grass infield I road and came to a stop. Ok, Francine – I know one of the first things I want to learn!

The clinic was fantastic. About 25 women, some new to track bikes, some with a little experience, all enthusiastic and supportive. Francine explained the markings on the track and some of the basic protocols. Being a predictable rider on the road is important for safety—even more so at the track since you will be moving at a pretty fast clip. We learned to look over our shoulders, to use the banking to control our speed, to “float” on the pedals, and pace line.

A special treat was 1:1 coaching from Gordy Kacala on standing starts. His wife, Rita, a world record holder – and therefore World Champion! – demonstrated what the start should look like. Have you seen the video of the guys that did bat spins then hopped on their bikes? Coming off the start line, I looked like those guys after they hopped on their bikes.

Then we raced!  

I am looking forward to more days at the track. The Northbrook Cycling Committee is hosting beginner clinics on Monday nights from 6:30PM-9:30PM, and advanced training on Tuesday nights. If you're looking for a ride out there, please comment on the CWEC Facebook page! There is always someone headed up.

For all interested bike riders, keep an eye out for the upcoming Chicago Women’s Elite Cycling Development Series Events 3-5 held at the PSIMET Fox River Grove Omnium May 14-16, 2015. We have a special guest throughout the weekend—the one and only Alison Powers!!!


NCC page for new riders:

Next Clinic open to all riders on Saturday, May 2 1-6PM

Opening night at the Northbrook Velodrome: Thursday, May 14th!

NCC Clinic on June 6 8AM-1PM:

On-going open track nights for training: Monday & Tuesday 6:30PM-9:30PM