Velodrome Technique.. Tricks of the trade

I raced @ my first track meet on the friday just gone… Loved it but had no idea what the hell was going on! Haha! Went out waaaaay to early and then got reeled in and mowed down every time… Loved it but would like to gain a better understanding of technique, styles of racing and how to ride these races…

The only advice I was given in regards to track was “When the pedal comes up… push it back down again…” …sooo I was left quite mystified…

For example, in a 15 lap scratchie with 10 laps controlled and 5 laps uncontrolled… When should I sprint? and when sitting on someones rear wheel, where should I place my wheel? above, below or behind? What are the other types of races? Like, ah… what is a Madison?

and what about body positioning… should I ride with my hands in the bend in the drops or on the flat lower part of the drops?

any advice at all would be awesome!

When do you sprint?
Hard question, it’s different every race. I’ve one after sprinting from 3 laps out and suprising everyone, I’ve also waited till the last 100m holding someone elses wheel and rolling them on the line.

As you race more, the more you’ll understand how a race unfolds, idealy you want to be second or third wheel with a couple of laps to go. Then you are towards the front, but not taking the wind so you have beans left for the final sprint. This can backfire though, if someone behind you comes round then you end up getting boxed. The best way to get out of this is wait for them to just pass you and then swing up onto their tale and use them as a leadout man and then go round them coming out of the last bank (on a 250m track this works very well)

As for wheel position, ideally you want straight behind. But if you’re still a bit new and nervous always stay a bit high. You can always swing up more, but you runout of track pretty quick going the other way.

If you’re ever going to submarine a rider, you want them at least higher than the top of the sprinters lane, and even then you want to be dead sure they aren’t coming back down again. (I’ve had a race where I managed to come from 15th to 3rd in a lap and then go on to win because the whole field was staying high to stop people going high round them, but instead they just opened the bottom door for me to come through) Some people frown on this technique, but you’ll figure out when it’s kosher or not after a bit more racing.

Hand position?
Where ever is comfortable. I usually have my hands at the front of the bends when rolling around behind someone, but when I’m sprinting I’m trying to rip the grips of the flats of the bars while I crank away. You’ll figure out where works for you over time.

For more explianation of the races, like the madison, check this site:

Some of the races are only raced at the FNWTR series, but it’ll give you a good idea of some of the different ones. (My favourites are the one lap screamers)

Keep an ear out to some of the more experienced riders out at the track to pick up some more tactics. It’s not always the strongest rider that wins, it’s the one with enough legs to pull off some smart tactics. An example is a bloke named Kieth Oliver at FNWTR, he’s 67 and raced in div2. He was racing against guys who were half his age and much fitter, but every race with a lap or two to go, he was second or third wheel and in the hunt for the final sprint. He managed to come up second overall for the series (and then won a World Masters a few weeks ago at Dunc)

Keep at it, it’s awsome fun and the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be with how to race and when to go.


ps. I really should get the track bike out again after being off it for 6 weeks >_<

Thanks so uch for the reply Garth! It really helps. I checked out the link you gave me and also had a kick around on wikipedia and found a bit more info that helped…

was a little unsure about what you meant by ‘submarine’??

Am already finding out that the fittest or strongest rider doesn’t always win… I ride my fixie to town from Margate over the bonnet every day on 76 gear inches which is a 56km round trip and I compete in mtb xc events and ride socially most days so I’m bloody fit… lead out by myself for 6 laps of a 15 laps scratchie but got mowed down by the pack… and in the 2nd last lap I went early and took the lead only to be caught by the following group on the line… lots to learn yet!!

As a general rule, when you pass a rider you do it on the outside. Submarining is when you sneak up the inside, but if the other riders come down the track you run out of places to go but the duck-boards (coloured boards below the sprinters lane) or worse yet, the concrete. So we you go undersomeone you want to make sure there is plenty of room to do it. If the start coming down, make some noise to let them know you’r there so you don’t get pushed down.

Someone told me that you save about 30% of your energy sitting someones wheel instead of taking the wind yourself. So sitting in the windby yourself for 5 laps of a 15lap scratchie, your gonna be baked by the end of it. Whereas the guy coming after you in the bunch at 2nd wheel, will still be fresh and roll you at the line.

You should read this on a few tips of how NOT to do it…,3009.0.html


Yeah… only ever have been a MTB’er so I was un-aware of just how beneficial ‘drafting’ is for energy conservation… I rode my 1st track race like a dirt crit or short track mtb race… just took off! Stayed out by-melf for waaay to long… did the same in a er… ‘points’ race but that tactic paid dividends and I took the line first on the first two sprint laps but got mowed down again…

I spoke with a few seasoned trackies afterwards but didn’t get much advice other than don’t go so early…

and I did ‘submarine’ once… ended up mowing the grass for about 10mtrs before regaining the track… oops… but now I know… Ta heaps Garth…

Haha! I feel for ya mate… looks a shit load like my first race… and my 2nd and 3rd for that matter…

You just gotta DO it :slight_smile:

Watch the experienced riders (they really stand out) and talk to them after each race. Let them know you are a muppet and usually they’ll be more than happy to let you know where you went wrong.

Find out if your club runs coaching or skills sessions and make use of the club coaches.

We have a session here every Sunday with [theworldshardestworkingvolunteercoachandallroundtopbloke] Joe where we go through all sorts of technique stuff. You get to learn new things, and then apply them at the next race night - usually it doesn’t work, but at least you get to see where it fits in.

Some of the best advice I’ve had so far:

“try to be aware of where everyone is on the track at any time”
“plan your race beforehand and then commit fully to your actions”

and best of all:

“make lots of mistakes, but make a different one each time”

Ta ndf

Haven’t really had a chance to eyeball the experianced riders yet… as I’m mostly on the track with 'em rath than on the sidelines eh… but will try and catch 'em for a yarn post race and hopefully pointers and dissection of my race…

My club (Dirt Devils/Hobart Wheelers) doesn’t do coaching clinics or have coaches as far as I know… but I think a few blokes might be availible for help if I hit them up…

Very very good advice here.

The great thing about track racing is you get the opportunity to screw up/learn four or five things every time you rock up because the races are so short. With road riding you can make on mistake and then have to ride another 50k’s living with it.

best advice I got was front littlewheelsandbig.

He taught me how to throw a bloke over the side of a fence…

ahhh the old swing hard right trick, get’s 'em every time

haha … I think Rhino is referring to the old knee under thigh body lift :slight_smile:

Yeah thanks for the demonstration the other weekend Nath, it’s scaaary!




did as you guys suggested… kept my eyes peeled @ the last track event for a seasoned track dog… found one and hassled him until he revealed some of the tricks of the trade…

he gave me one pointer that helped straight away… ah, he told me where to look… I was looking at the rear wheel… but he suggested I look at the front wheels hub… immediately I was able to ride better whilst on someones tail…

As in your front hub, or the person infront of you?

As the confidence builds up (and as you progress up the grades and ride with better riders) you’ll feel a little more confident to look around a little more. I’m usually looking about 3 riders ahead to make sure I know what’s happening at the front.

Another trick for looking around is if you want to check if someone is behind you, look back between your legs. If you look over your shoulder, you almost instantly slow down and swing a little bit the way your head turned. (not to mention it’s kinda tricky when ripping through a bank with the extra g’s) Again, it will take a bit of confidence and practice, but yet another handy skill. Try it out just riding around by yourself to start with


Watching the motorpace the other night, there were a number of guys riding on the tops of their bars rather than the drops. Is there a rule regarding that or do you just do whatever works best for you?

What night were you there?