Originally posted on the club forum September 2017. Some details may be out of date.
London-based and want to give track cycling a go? Luckily you have access to two (quite different) velodromes – one at Lee Valley Velopark (LVVP) and the other at Herne Hill Velodrome (HHV). Both hold women-only sessions, but HHV do so on a more regular basis (weekly) than LVVP (every four weeks).
Location: Abercrombie Road, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, E20 3AB
Steepest part of the banking: 42 degrees
Location: Burbage Road, Herne Hill, London, SE24 9HE
Steepest part of the banking: 30 degrees
So why does this matter? Well, for a start, HHV is outdoors and you’ll need to dress for the weather (it can get pretty chilly!). But many people prefer to start at HHV because the banking isn’t as steep. HHV hold their track league during the summer months, whereas LVVP hold theirs over winter. Both velodromes also have different accreditation processes.
Track bikes have a fixed gear – this means you have one gear, you aren’t able to freewheel and you don’t have any brakes. The lack of brakes actually makes it much safer on the track and to slow down you use your legs to resist the motion of the pedals. Wherever you choose to start your track experience, you will be introduced to the idea that your legs will be moving continuously while you are on the track.
Hire bikes are available at both velodromes and come in different sizes but the way they are supplied is slightly different.
All bikes have pedals that are compatible with Look cleats (they look similar to Shimano but they are not the same!!) or if you don’t want to be clipped in, you can wear trainers and use toe straps
Bike hire is not included in sessions costs (unless you are doing a taster) and is an additional £12
If you have your own track bike, make sure it meets the specifications in the links below. Also you’ll need to clean tyres with white vinegar or isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) before going on the track at LVVP
Bike hire is included in the cost for all sessions
All pedals are those with toe straps. You can bring your own pedals and change them (make sure you have a pedal tool) except if you are doing an induction where that is not allowed
Padded shorts are a good idea, paired with a cycling jersey or something close fitting. Or a skinsuit if you’re feeling pro. Both HHV and LVVP suggest wearing two layers on your top half – this offers better protection in case you do have an accident
If you’re at HHV, make sure you take weather into account – you may want arm/leg warmers or longer pieces of clothing if it’s a bit chilly, or suncream/glasses if it’s on the warmer side
Mitts/cycling gloves are required at both LVVP and HHV – to hire at LVVP is £3 but you will most probably have your own. If not, it’s definitely worth getting some
You must have a helmet, which shouldn’t have any peaks. It’s a lot nicer to wear your own, but if you need to hire one then it is included with bike hire at LVVP
Shoes were briefly mentioned under the bike section. Remember if you are riding at LVVP and want to be clipped in then you need to have Look cleats, or you can pay £7 to hire some shoes
Before you book any sessions, you need to sign up for free membership (if you are not a member already) and that can be done here:
This a four stage accreditation process, known as CoreStart:
More information here: https://www.visitleevalley.org.uk/en/content/cms/london2012/velo-park/velo-track/track-accreditation/
Above all, coaches are looking to see that you can follow instructions and ride safely – observations are really important
Bike hire is available for all stages, but by Stage 2 you should know which bike you need and how to set it up
Good to know: No riding around in track centre! Also, be on time! If you’re late, that is an instant fail. No Garmins or other cycling computers are allowed on bikes until you are accredited. Nothing on wrists or in pockets.
More track time:
Getting more track time will make you more confident and better rider
LVVP has four SkillsSeries sessions on offer (1a, 2a, 2b and 3a – the number indicates the stage you must have passed in order to take part) https://www.visitleevalley.org.uk/en/content/cms/london2012/velo-park/velo-track/#trackandgrouptechniques
You can do these sessions as many times as you like or choose not to do them at all but they are very useful in preparing for accreditation stages
Once you’ve passed Stage 1, there is a women’s only skills session held every four weeks on a Sunday evening from 7-9pm
Once you’ve passed Stage 2, there is also a drop in session available to unaccredited riders. This session isn’t structured but there will be coaches around to give you tips
Monthly timetables can be found at the top the LVVP Track page (when logged in you are able to see session dates that are further ahead)
(All costs are shown without bike hire, add £12 for bike hire)
Stage 1 (1 hour) – £28
Stages 2, 3 and 4 (all 2 hours) – £22
Skills – 1a, 2a, 2b and 3a (all 2 hours) – £20
Women’s Specific Track SkillSeries (2 hours) – £20
Drop in Unaccredited (1 hour) – £10
The accreditation at LVVP is fairly expensive, especially if you are hiring bikes, but don’t be tempted to smash your way through the accreditation. The more track time you have, the better you will feel about riding. Also it’s best not to leave it too long between sessions otherwise riding on the track may start to feel unfamiliar.
The programme has also been standardised with other indoor velodromes in the UK (Manchester, Newport, Derby and Glasgow), which means you can bypass some of their accreditation process.
You may want to use sessions at HHV to gain more experience, which is fine, just bear in mind the different track geometries and how you would ride them varies also.
Before you can take part in any sessions at HHV, you need to have completed a track induction which can be booked online here https://www.riderhq.com/o/428/herne-hill-velodrome/enter
General timings are Saturday afternoons, Thursday mornings (once a month) and Sunday evenings (first of every month, women only)
Bike hire is included but you can’t change the pedals and so you will need to wear flat shoes or trainers
The accreditation process is then split into two parts – Training and Race
These also need to be booked in advance, using the same link above
On passing the Training Accreditation, you will receive a yellow card that you will need to take to sessions, when you pass the Race Accreditation it will be red
Bikes: For the Training Accreditation you are able to use a hire bike but must be able to take it from the sheds and adjust it yourself; For the Race Accreditation you must either be on your own bike or on a HHV season hire
More info can be found here: http://www.hernehillvelodrome.com/whats-on/training-sessions/pathway/
The accreditation at HHV is different from LVVP in that coaches can only read from a script – they won’t say anything more than is written down and so you are expected to know what all the exercises are beforehand. These are listed in the link above under ‘Accreditation Sessions’
If you’re wondering whether you are ready to complete Training or Race Accreditation, first make sure you are aware of the drills you will be tested on and how to execute them (these can be found using the link above under ‘Accreditation Sessions’). You can also ask coaches whether they think you are ready to do an accreditation session, but ultimately it is your decision and whether you feel ready.
More track time:
Each compulsory session (Induction, Training and Race Accreditations) unlocks sessions that you can attend in order to gain more track time
The women’s sessions at Herne Hill are a great way to get more track time in a friendly environment. These are held on a Sunday evening from 5-7pm and cost £10 (bring cash). You don’t need to sign up in advance, just turn up! These cater for all abilities but make sure you have done your HHV induction. More info here http://www.hernehillvelodrome.com/women/
What happens if it rains?
(All sessions include bike hire except for the Race Accreditation)
Induction – £20
Training Accreditation – £20
Race Accreditation – £20
Women’s Sessions – £10
The HHV Women’s Cycling Facebook page is a great place to find out about events/sessions happening and also ask any questions if you’re not sure about something
You may be thinking about how to start racing. Some events don’t require you to be fully accredited but you should be able to show that you’ve had experience on the track in bunch/high speed scenarios. Open races generally fall into this category. Also the Women’s League at HHV has a novice category for those with Training Accreditation.
Winter track league at LVVP and the main track league at HHV do require you to have full accreditation at those velodromes.
Once you’re accredited
There are lots of sessions on offer once you’re accredited, whether you want to build fitness, work on different skills or get ready for racing.