Track Cycling 101

14 Aug

As promised I’m posting a more in depth review of the track cycling sport. So sit back and enjoy reading. I’ve used several references for this post as well as from my limited experience, so pardon the errors.

Track cycling is raced on tracks called velodromes. These can be indoor or outdoor and are usually 250 – 500 metres in circumference.  Track bikes are fixed gear bikes without brakes. In sprint events, athletes generally use large gears which take enormous amounts of power to get going! With fixed gears, cyclists are forced to continue to pedal, even when slowing down. Speeds of 40-60 km/hr are common in endurance track cycling events.

Track cycling involves a number of sprint and “track endurance” events.  Both individual and team events exist. These include pure sprint events such as the individual and team sprints; long sprints such as the 500 m and 1000 m time trials and the Kieren; middle distance events such as the individual and team pursuits; and endurance events such as the Madison, scratch, handicap and points races.

Training varies according to the type and number of events being raced. Sprint track cyclists generally focus on short high quality repetitions with long recovery, as well as strength training to build lean body mass. For longer sprint events, athletes also include some longer sessions and endurance rides. Longer track events such as the Points Race, Madison, and Kieren are generally suited to endurance trained road cyclists, who compete in these events in their off season or during major events such as Olympics and World Championships. With a good endurance base and short periods of sprint training, road cyclists can excel in track endurance events.

Elite track cyclists compete at World Cups, World Championships, Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games. Cyclists are often required to complete a number of heats and finals over one or many days. Competitive recreational cyclists may compete weekly during the racing season. Cyclists often compete in several events and are required to contest a number of heats and finals.

The physique of sprint track cyclists is characterised by large muscle mass and low body fat levels. A high percentage of fast twitch muscle fibres helps maintain high cadences. Endurance track cyclists are typically leaner and lighter, similar to road cyclists.
As written in the previous blog post, most track cyclists are ectomorphic mesomorphs with sprint cyclists being more mesomorphic. In the above pic, Robert Förstemann, A German track cyclist and Olympian, has a mesomorphic body build much like other sprinters in his category including Olympic champion, Chris Hoy as seen below.
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