The Velodrome

15 Aug

One of the notable differences between road and track cycling is the venue. Track cycling is held in a velodrome. Tracks vary in length, banking and other characteristics. looking the picture above, you can see pretty clearly how steep the banking is – just shy of 45°. The straightaways are also banked, but not nearly as much.Shorter tracks can be even steeper than this one, and longer tracks are invariably less steep in the corners.

Apron: The flat interior section of the track is called the apron. It is not used during races, since riders at speed cannot get around the corners on a flat surface. Riding on the apron during races is illegal– and dangerous, even on the straightaway. Not all tracks have an apron like this – it’s there for convenience when warming up, and for getting on and off the track.

Cote d’Azure/Blue Line: This wide blue line at the base of the track defines an area that is “out-of-bounds” for competition. As a practical matter, if you momentarily stray onto the Cote d’Azureduring a race, you will probably not be penalized for it. If however you pass a rider on it, you will almost certainly disqualified and may be penalized for dangerous riding. This kind of pass is dangerous, because you will have to come up-track into the rideryou’ve just passed when you hit the next corner, and that’s likely to cause a crash. So – at speed in a race, stay away from the Coted’Azure.

Black Line/Pursuiter’s Line: This black line along the lowest perimeter of the track defines the distance of the track, and is located 20cm up from the Cote d’Azure. In auto racing, this would be called the pole line – the shortest distance around the track. It’s called the pursuiter’s line in track cycling because it is the fastest line for pursuiters and other time triallists.

Red Line/Sprinter’s Line: The next line up the track from the black line is red. The red line is the upper boundary of the sprinter’s lane. The sprinter’s lane has a great deal of significance in track events, particularly in the match sprint – so much so that I can’tattempt to describe all the rules that apply to it. But the essence of these rules is that a rider in the lead occupying the sprinter’s lanehas a right to the lane – another rider can’t cut underneath him,come down onto him, or impede his progress. If you are passing a rider in the sprinter’s lane, as a general matter, you must be clear of him before moving down into the sprinter’s lane. The flip-side of this is that once a rider occupies the sprinter’s lane during a sprint,he must continue to stay in the lane – no coming up-track to impede another rider’s progress.

Stayer’s Line/Motor-Pacer’s Line: A little less than halfway up the track is a blue line that serves no purpose in most races – but it’s avery important line to know about. First, the intended purpose of the line is to provide a sort of second measuring line (like the black line) for motor-paced events. In Europe, particularly in Six-Day races, races paced behind motorcycles are common, and because of the speeds involved the racers use the top part of the track only –above the blue line.

Railing: Along the very top of the track is the railing. In the corners the railing doesn’t have much significance – you won’t be up there very often on the banking. But on the home straightaway (and the back straight during a Madison) the railing is used at the start of mass start races to line up the riders before a neutral lap. Typically riders will be “called to the railing” at the start of a race; the railing is something to hang onto while getting clipped into your pedals, and a place to idle while the officials issue race instructions before rolling the group off. After this, riders complete a neutral lap, and the race will be started if the group is reasonably compact at the end of the neutral lap.
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