Oct 2016 – Herne Hill

Herne Hill Velodrome Report

20161016-dsc_4816-resizedAnd so it came to pass, on the Sabbath of October 16th 2016, that the Tunbridge Wells Triathlon Club ventured forth onto the lofty hallowed land of the banked oval.

23 brave souls had travelled through the badlands of South East London’s inner city urban decay where many properties still await the reinstallation of their wooden sash windows and front doors.

Only two people turned up late – separately for a change – so we are still unsure who is the principal culprit in that regard…

Arranged several months prior, on the back of the hugely fun session on the Sineu Velodrome in Mallorca (see PiTB ’16 anecdotes), it was agreed to do the same in the UK. Committee member Lloyd Collier kindly volunteered to arrange a Velodrome session, most serendipitously choosing not only a facility on his doorstep but also a date to suit his diary.

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Lloyd “Head Down” Collier!

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As we arrived and greeted each other the usual banter began. Would Kieran “Calves” Horstmann’s strength be decisive; perhaps Stuart “I’m not on Strava so you’ve no idea how hard I’ve been training” Williams had been getting in the sessions; or would Lloyd “I ride a fixie every day” Collier’s experience prove decisive.

For the first couple of laps it was just getting used to the bike, the fixed wheel, the absence of brakes and how, frankly, terrifyingly high and steep the banking was. Interspersed with the crazy French instructor shouting at Eric for a variety of spurious reasons.

We did a variety of drills to get us used to riding on the track, using the banking, working to draft each other and in a team, as well as a few flying laps.

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Of course the heavens opened at one point with rain so hard that it reminded us of Cap Formentor on day #2 of PiTB. Thankfully the track surface is so good that it was only dangerous from a perspective of visibility. We all got lovely clean faces off the wheel in front from that point on.

A big thanks go to the Bonners for providing support, kit rain protection, and taking these great photos; to Carol for looking after Iona and to Lloyd for organising and then inviting 12 sopping wet and filthy triathletes back to his newly refurbished flat for beer and pizza, and finally a special mention to Steve Dunkerley whose enthusiasm was undiminished by his car breaking down on the A21 and for going all the way back to Tunbridge Wells with the AA and then driving up in his other car to support!

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Carol “Smiley” Tsang!

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We learned two things for certain.

One, Triathletes make rubbish track cyclists. We were too far apart, kept getting separated, speeding up and slowing down, going off line and just generally aren’t used to cycling in close proximity and formation.

Two, track cycling is an absolute blast and we all want to go again as soon as possible and work on improving the above. When’s the next one please?

A Herne Hillian correspondent

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