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(Not so) Frosty February

Track Riding

Take 2: Wix deleted my first attempt. -.-

Hello, fellow riders! How is your year starting out? We are surprisingly busy. We have so many bikes in here right now that we barely have room to walk. (Is your bike here and ready for pick up? Pleeeease come and get it!) We have also had Covid - fully recovered, thank you. Shop is clear, no worries. Mike turned 50 at the beginning of the month and I turn 50 in October, so it's a banner year, for sure. (Is someone having her party at the Cambridge butterfly conservatory? She sure hopes so!)

You know that I spent last year talking about safety, and we will be continuing to discuss how to keep your bones whole and your brains intact, but this month I want to talk about track in this main article. Why?

So glad you asked! Mike is now riding track (I have not yet decided if I'm going to) and we were pleasantly surprised to find that it's more exciting than anticipated. We have, by now, watched almost all of the Tissot 2022 Track Nation Championships.

What is track? Basically, riding an oval with corners that can slope from 42-degrees at Velodromes like Mattamy in Milton, to the 50-degrees at our very own Forest City Velodrome (FCV). FCV happens to be the shortest permanent indoor track in the world at 138m and only one of two indoor tracks in Canada (the other is Mattamy in Milton).

There are many events in track Riding. The Tissot UCI Championships of 2022 has quite a number of them so as I go through the events, I'll post links to the races. There are two types of race in track: Sprint and Endurance.


Sprint defined: a race that uses short bursts of explosive effort to either win, take that lap's points, or wear out your opponents.

Within the Sprint category there are four events: the sprint, team sprint (also known as Olympic sprint), Keirin and time trial.

The Sprint, or match sprint, is a 750m one-on-one competition where only the final 200m are timed. The opponents start next to each other and race each other around and around the oval. It is a highly tactical race and, generally, the riders do not start at full speed. They jockey for position, saving the hardest of their work for the last two or three laps; indeed, the first laps tend to be at a relatively slow speed. They use both tactics (like slowing or coming to a complete track stand stop) and aerodynamics - like following behind and drafting. Drafting reduces the aerodynamic drag felt by the second rider then they can, with rested and refreshed legs, pop out and take over the lead. It is, as the announcer says in the video, basically a game of cat & mouse on wheels. The first to cross the finish line is the winner.

Team Sprint

The Team Sprint is not a traditional sprint event, it's closer to a time trial. There are three riders per team, lined up on opposite sides of the track. Each rider sits at the front for one lap before peeling off and leaving two riders. Then the second front will leave after the next lap. Finally, the last rider will either win or lose the race. Often, the final rider is the one with the best endurance.


This is a Japanese gambling sport that is rather exciting. It is now a part of the Olympic program.

Riders spend all of their time training, on the track, and in the weight room. The Keirin riders and trainers are extremely strict in what they need to learn, the amount of time they train and how hard they train. The race itself is started by a pacer - a motorbike or another rider, aka a derny; the derny will slowly increase their speed from 30 to 50kph for the men and from 25kph to 45kph for the women. The derny then peels off and allows the race to begin.

Positioning behind the derny is critical and many cyclists will jockey with each other, shoving each other out of position to try and get the optimum spot. This is despite having their position chosen in a lottery. The sprint really begins in the last 3 laps. The first rider, who can be doing up to 70kph, to cross the line is the winner.

Time Trial

This is a type of sprint where riders compete with each other by striving to beat the clock. Men race for tenths of seconds for 1km and women do it for 500m.

Riders start from a standing start and push as hard as they can to get up to speed, hoping they're good enough to go faster than everyone else.

The current record for the men's kilometer is 56.303 seconds. This was recorded in December 2013 by François Pervis of France. Mexico's Jessica Salazar holds the women's 500m record at 32.268 and set it at the 2016 Pan American Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico.


Endurance races are, in case you couldn't guess, much longer and more grueling races than the sprints. We have 4 types there, as well: Individual Pursuit, Elimination Race, 20km points race, 10km scratch.

Individual Pursuit

This is a one-on-one test of staying power. Riders start at opposite sides of the track and race for more than 4km (300km for the women). The winner is the one who manages to either catch the other rider (and thus practically lapping them) or has the best time.

It is said that while and explosive start is a bonus, the competition is about being able to ride at consistently high speeds over a longer period of time. The fastest four riders from qualifying rounds move up to medal rounds. It was once part of the Olympics but isn't any longer.

Team Pursuit

This is much the same premise as individual pursuit but 2 teams of 4 riders each start on opposite sides of the track, instead of one person on each side.

Team members follow one another in a tight formation, taking turns at the front. When the front rider has completed their turn, they peel off and take up the rear. It is common for one rider to take a longer "death pull" towards the end, wearing themselves out so much they cannot maintain the group pace.

There are two ways to win: either overtake the other team or be the fastest team over the finish line.

Points Race

In the points race, the rider wants to gain as many points as possible. Points are gained by being one of the first 4 riders over the finish line in each sprint lap; sprint laps occur every ten laps. Points are five, three, two and one, respectively.

Points can also be earned by lapping the entire group - 20 points are earned here; riders are awarded double points after the full distance.

Like the scratch race, (which we will discuss next), the endurance riders will try to take laps and sprinters will try to make sure there is competition for points by holding the race together. The typical distance for the men's race is 40km; it's 25 for women.

The points race is in the Olympic Omnium but the individual is not.

Omnium is an event that includes multiple disciplines of track cycling. Most often:

  • Scratch race: 15km for men, and 10km for women

  • Tempo race: 7.5km for men and women. Riders accumulate points by winning sprints or taking laps.

  • Elimination race: Every two laps the last rider across the line is eliminated until only the winner remains.

  • Points race: 40km for men, 20km for women. Points awarded at intermediate sprints and by lapping the field.

The Scratch Race

The Scratch race is basically a 'first one to cross the finish lines wins' race. It's a mix of sprint and endurance specialists where strategy and tactics play a major role.

As many as 24 riders can take a spot to race for over 15km (if you're a man. It's 10km for the women.). Endurance riders will attempt to lap the group so that the sprint riders, who will be huddling in the middle of the pack, taking advantage of drafts, can't come in on the final sprint and win it all. The Scratch race is considered by many to be the most exciting race to watch.


The Madison is named after Madison Square Gardens, where the event was first held. It is definitely the most exciting (and confusing) race to watch.

Two-man teams pile up at the starting line in a mass-start. The race is typically 50-60km and is, essentially, a long version of the points race, but competed in pairs.

The race starts with everyone in pairs but only one rider from each team is allowed in the race at any given times. Riders hand sling each other in and out of the race with the resting riders lined at the top of the banking.

Just like in the points race, the top four teams are awarded 5, 3, 2, and 1 points, respectively. Each team will have one rider who specializes in sprinting and another who is an endurance specialist. The race is often a feature of six-day races but can be held on its own.

Whew! That was a LOT of information. I hope that, having watched the videos, you are now intrigued by track.

Next month, I'll get back on the lecture podium. Soon as I figure out what to write about. Anything you'd like to see?

Open Season?

Just wanted to remind you that the season is opening soon! Gary the Goose and his mate Gretel are watching for spring to come in and the cyclists to come out.

March 6th we will be open full time again. That means our hours are going back to 7-6 Mon, Tues and Friday, 7-5:30 Wednesday and Thursday, and 7-5 on Saturday. Well, tentative hours at this point. I need to confirm the Wednesday change. Hours will, of course, be posted on the website and Google.

Bike Paths

On March 8th, the city will be having a public meeting to discuss the various plans the city has for our infrastructure. They've labeled the meeting as, "Developing Council’s 2023-2027 Strategic Plan: Tabling Draft Strategies".

And I have been asked to speak. I am a little nervous but I can do this. It'll be fun.

*coughs* Riiiiight.


That's it for us this month! We wish everyone a wonderful 2023 and an especially fantastic cycling season. Favourite quote this month: “If you do something right the first time, then it’s not hard enough.” — Danny MacAskill, Scottish trials legend

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