Thursday, 7 June 2007

Up and Running (even Cycling) at Herne Hill

The track is in full flow now. I've actually managed 2 sessions on the trot at Herne Hill Velodrome. It's terrible how you go one day and then the next day it's off due to the rain. But I actually managed to go yesterday evening for the Wednesday Track League, and today for the Derny paced riding session. Fingers crossed the weather will be ok for me to go on Saturday.

It's nice to have a bit of continuity in my training sessions too. Once you've got the habit of going it just becomes a reflex, rather than a slog to get over the inertia and mentally psyche yourself up about going. The VCL coaches now know my name and say "how are you" rather than just a simple, "can I help you". And when I leave it's "See you Saturday" or "See you next week".

If only this could all be matched by half decent efforts on my bike ! I can feel myself improving, little by little. I'm getting used to using the banking to control my speed. I have even managed to ride out of the saddle. But I am still p1ss poor ! I still need to learn to sprint, get closer to the derny, feel comfortable near other riders, and get nearer the front, rather than dangling off the back and getting dropped all the time. Hopefully things'll get better.

Hanna from Agisko Viner was at the track again yesterday, as was Tamar from Addiscombe CC. We were of similar ability, though Tamar's time trialling skills meant she had a slight edge over the other two of us. Hanna was good at giving me encouragement and tips. She's really kind. Funnily enough, even though I was the weakest rider, I still didn't get the Lanterne Rouge. It went to Tamar as she slowed up at the finish line during the 20km scratch race. I was so bad I couldn't even make a decent job of coming last !

At today's derny session I rode better, even if I was a little tired. Derny paced riding is fun. Riding behind a big bloke on a small motorbike and watching his ass for half an hour may not sound that exciting, but it's actually quite fun ! It's safe, as these people have an idea of how to pace the ride and how far they can push it to make your ride faster. They keep a regular speed so you're not accelerating and then suddenly having to slow down. Apparently if your front wheel hits the derny it just bounces gently off the mud guard of the motorbike without any further incident. I can't say I'm confident enough to test out that theory though ! I hope that by just turning up regularly I WILL get better. It's all money in the bank for future races. Who knows - this might have even helped me for Sunday's crit at Brentwood. And boy, will I need all the help I can get for that event !
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