With the first snow of the winter arriving in town last week it seemed fitting to be embarking on a winter of track cycling at the excellent UCI track just down the road in Aigle. My new club VC Montreux are part of a block booking each Thursday evening with an excellent coach, and I have been lucky to get a winter season pass for public sessions at various points in the week.

My first visit was the day after watching Ross Edgar crash in the Commonwealth Games.

Having assured the wife there was no way I would be doing full on Keirin racing on my first trip to the track I was in for quite a shock. After a few laps of getting used to a fixed again and remembering the basics (look behind, don’t stop pedaling, don’t go slow on the banking etc) it was straight into drill number one. This was simple enough, ride in a single line on the line bleu then when the bell rang the rider on the front takes a sprint for just one banking. After this warm up, we lined up behind a derny and set off relaying, which was actually more technical than it looked.

Finally I was horrified to find the third and final drill was Keirin racing! The first race I sat at the back and watched, realising that I was probably one of the faster guys in my group. The second time I played with positioning but found myself at the back and out of it, so the final time I went for the long one as the bike pulled off, getting a big gap but then went far too low on the final banking slipping on the Cote d’Azure, having a mild heart attack and just holding on as the equally scared riders behind me came around to finish things off. All in all a steep learning curve, but great fun.

Last week was the formal induction by the staff at the velodrome, a much more sedate affair, but all in French so probably better for language skills than riding. This induction opened up the public sessions, where various groups steam around in pacelines, and you can get a pretty good workout as well as adjusting to the demands of riding at close quarters on the track.

As the snow settles the masterplan is to use not only the track, but also XC skiing and Ski-touring to build a solid base. I’m hopeful to do some track racing as well, we’ll see what comes.

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