Why are there lines on the track? “Really what gives with the lines?”. I asked my self this question the first time I ever set foot on a track. Soon though it was quite simple to understand. Not only did it help me understand track racing a little bit better, but it also helped me to understand how to be courteous to the other people I was sharing the track with. Hopefully those who have not yet ridden the track will find this bit of info helpful for when you do get the chance to watch or ride one of the banked beauties.
The Ribbon Aka - Côte d’Azur
This is the thicker blue band around the edge of the infield and where the tracks’ banking actually starts. The main purpose of this line is to show riders where the track ends so that they can ride high enough not to hit their inside pedal on the floor. It is not illegal to ride on the ribbon, but it is Illegal to pass another rider on the ribbon.
Black line – Measurement Line
The black line is the one used to measure the length of the track. The inside edge of the line is measured along the entire track in order to calculate the distance. Hence why when watching TT track events you will notice that the riders are always trying to ride on the black line, as it is the fastest/shortest way around the track.
Red line - Sprinters Line
The red line is found 90cm above the black line and is known as the Sprinters Line. Riding in-between the Red and Black line, you will find yourself in what’s called the Sprinters Lane! As I stated earlier, staying as close to the black line as possible is the fastest way around the track, meaning you are in the Sprinters Lane the whole time. For regulation purposes, if a rider is leading a race and is in the Sprinters Lane, no other rider is allowed to pass them on the inside. Every rider must go above them and pass on the outside to get in front of the rider.
The Stayer Line is located half way up the track and is the same blue as the ribbon. This line only serves a purpose in Stayer races and Madison races. Stayer races are the races where riders follow a motorcycle around the track. When one motorcycle and rider is under the Stayer Line, the other rider can only pass above the Stayer Line. Also with Madison racing the rider that is waiting for their turn to enter the race waits above the Stayer line before coming into the race.
These lines don’t only help when racing, but also when there is open training on the track for normal people like you and me. Most newcomers think that the track is exponentially more dangerous than riding a normal road bike. This can be true if you have not been shown how to properly ride with others on the track. Just like riding a road bike in a group there is a certain etiquette when riding on the track that helps everyone stay safe but also have fun. I have broken some of them down to keep it straight and simple:
Just like riding a road bike in a group there is a certain etiquette when riding on the track that helps everyone stay safe but also have fun
Most people think it is not normal to ride in a group on the track, but that is a misconception. Riding in a group is a nice way to control your pace and also hone your group riding skills. What you should always remember though, is that on the track even if you are relaxed in a group, you need to stay focused. AIt’s important to maintain an awareness of who is around you and make sure that you are not riding erratically. It is also extremely important that you hold your line and ride predictably. At first it will seem really scary to ride on a 45 degree bank with a friend next to you, 2 people in front and 2 behind you, but once you let your nerves settle and trust the people around you, all will be ok and fun will be had.
At first it will seem really scary to ride on a 45 degree bank with a friend next to you, 2 people in front and behind you, but once you let your nerves settle and trust the people around you, all will be ok and fun will be had.
When you are riding in a group or paceline and need to stand up, you need to signal to the rider behind you. One option is to take one hand off your handlebars and place your back palm out. There are other signals that don’t require you to take your hands off of the bars but the rider behind you needs to be paying more close attention to what you are doing.
In my personal opinion when your training goal is to do a steadier tempo on the track, you should stay at or just above the Stayer Line. The reason for this is so that other people actively training at a higher intensity level will be lower on the track and will not have to focus on pushing and over taking groups of riders. Thus making the potential for crashes less likely and allowing them to get the most out of their efforts.
Sprinting is a major part of track cycling and of course needs to be trained heavily to see improvement. It should however only be carried out when there are as few riders on the track as possible. The reason for this is because if you are doing a standing start, you must stop on the tack and if an approaching rider is not paying attention they could hit you… Not good. If there are riders on the track, you need a training partner to signal to the others to ride above the Stayer Line while you do your effort. In my opinion, normally people should be riding above the Stayer Line anyway, but that’s not always the case.
Exiting the Track
When you are exiting the track and are alone, all you need to do is look over your shoulder, make sure no one is near you, move down off of the track and onto the infield. If you are riding and there are people around you or you are in a group, you should take your left hand off the handlebars and point towards the infield showing that you are going to pull out of the group and go into the infield. Again do not be erratic about your movements, just plan to come off of the track on one of the straights so that it is easier for you to control slowing your speed down.
Like I said, riding on the track is not as complicated as everyone makes it out to be. Don’t be scared/intimidated. If you are interested go out and give it a chance you just might like it.
Untill next time. #gofastturnleft