PAN AM Cycling Track Footwork

cycling track        Much as we admire road racing, the cycle sport of track racing is at another level.  Track racers don’t just put on short bursts of speed; they sustain speed throughout the race, accelerating as they go. The tracks have no corners, no hills and no head winds, so no natural ‘slowing’ features.  Raw sprinting power seeks to outpace its opponents.  Even the steep wooden banks built onto the tracks aid racers with their acceleration. The steeper, the better.  Lead riders push air around them as they race ahead. Those in the rest of the pack jostle for advantageous positions in and out of the draft or drag of that air.

But here’s the rub.  Track bikes are minimalist – no gears, no brakes and no ability to coast. When the back wheel is moving, the pedals are moving. It is 360 degrees of continuous movement; no “breaks” for feet.

Pedaling and Braking

When hopping onto their ‘fixed gear’ bikes, track racers clip into the top pedal first, and then push off with the second foot.  It takes some coordination to slip the second foot into its clip with the pedals already moving. Toe-clips play a key role in pedaling efficiently and smoothly.  They keep feet where they are supposed to be, getting more out of every revolution.

Like in the other cycling sports, the speed of a track bike increases by pedaling forward. Unlike the others, slowing or braking is controlled by reversing pressure on the moving pedals. Some say that ‘fixed gear’ bikes actually have two brakes: the rider’s right and left feet.  Since no one else on the track has brakes, riders don’t suddenly slow down and disrupt the flow. In spite of its high speeds, the contained tracks and uniform flow of racers make it a surprisingly safe sport.

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Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.   1 Corinthians 9:25 (NIV)