Track 1.3: First Laps
The most important thing that people doing their first laps need to know is not how to get on, but how to get off. This is something that should be explained to them before they get on.
Gather everyone together, tell them they are going to go up on the track, and explain how they are to get off once they are up there. They get off by reducing their speed, dropping to the coté and then to the apron as they do so. It is best to reduce speed on the finishing straight (tell them this can be identified by the presence of the start/finish line), descend down to the coté through turns 1 and 2 (explain that these are the turns following the finish line), and exit the track following the black line from the back straight.
Tell people the two most important rules of track riding:
• don’t get up on the track if you are going too slow
• don’t come off the track if you are going too fast
We want to see people get on and off the track quickly from the back straight, but this is a skill that takes practice to develop and that learners cannot be expected to have. It is better that they get off the track in the turns or the front straight than that they try force an exit on the back straight by riding too slowly through turns 1 and 2 to get there, or get off there at too high a speed to be able to avoid slipping on the concrete or crashing into the track on the approach to turn 3.
Stress that being properly positioned on the track for the speed you are traveling is more important than exiting smartly on the back stretch.
Tell everyone that when they go to get off the track for the first time we will shout “stay up” at them if they are going too fast through turns 1 and 2. They will have to stay up on the track for another lap and try again to slow on the finishing straight the next time around.
Likewise, tell everyone that when they go too slow we will shout “speed up” or “get down.” “Get down” means, do not go above the coté (or get down onto it). “Speed up” means either get your speed up or get down onto the coté until you can.
Most people want to be alone on the track for their first laps, but it is too time consuming and often too cold to do this. As a compromise, get two people up on opposite sides of the track. Explain to everyone that this is not a race. If one person catches up to the other, they are to slow down, come back down onto the apron (without worrying exactly where they do so), wait to re-establish distance, and then resume the effort.
Riders start by going easily around the apron, maintaining a ½ lap separation. Then get them to increase their speed and move up onto the coté. Then get them to increase their speed along the straights, let the bike rise up the track in the turns, and bring it back down to be on the coté in the straights. Tell them that there should be no bumps and no thumps. The bike should rise gradually up and down the track in the turns. If it doesn’t, they need to slow down and work on getting the line right.
As riders get comfortable, get them to go faster and rise higher on the track. Once they are touching the black line, have them stay on the black and continue to do a few laps, then come off.