A Week of Sport Discovery: Track Cycling

Sport Calgary is doing a blog series on the different Sport Calgary member organizations. This blog introduces Calgarians to sports offered in the city they can try. Ryley is an intern at Sport Calgary for the four months between the third and fourth years of her degree. She is pursuing a bachelor of communication, majoring in PR and minoring in marketing and has a passion for sport. Ryley loves trying new activities and finding different ways to get moving and staying active for life. Her main activities are hiking, skiing, yoga, running and surfing, all of which either her mom, boyfriend or dog loves to join her in doing!

I was watching the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro when I saw track cycling for the first time. The match sprints were on, and the two competing cyclists went as slow as they could, trying to get higher on the banking of the track to get in front of their opponent and then drop down to end the race in a sprint. It was so much different than anything I had ever seen and I was fascinated because the athletes have so much control and, of course, the steep banking of the track made the sport look even more challenging. When I got the opportunity to try track cycling with the Calgary Bicycle Track League (CBTL), I couldn’t have been more excited!

As soon as I got to the track I felt welcome. In attendance were several members of the CBTL, who told me stories and encouraged me to get on a bike. The president of the club got me set up on a bike and gave me a helmet, and then handed me off to my instructor for the evening, CP. CP went through safety and courtesy of the track. For example, you must stay higher on the bank if you are going slower and if someone wants to pass you they will say “stick”, which means stay “on your line” (basically in your lane even though there aren’t any lanes).

These bikes are not your average cruiser bike! They have only one gear and no brakes; in other words, when the wheels move, the pedals move, and you can’t stop them. Easy, right? CP had to hold my bike upright as I fought to get on. Then, he gave me a push and we were cruising, no stopping now!

Cycling on the flat part was easy, but every time we went around the track we went a little bit higher on the banking. My legs were tired faster than I’d like to admit, but no way I was going to stop pedaling because if I did I would have just flopped over and slid down the track.

Before I knew it, I was at the top of the 29-degree banked track with a huge smile on my face. What an exciting sport! I was so focused the whole time and I was scared for a little while, but that fear turned into excitement. When we were finished, we slowed down our bikes by rolling onto the grass and placing a foot on the ground.

CP is an experienced cyclist and an amazing teacher. He came to the Glenmore Velodrome for the first time 25 years ago and hasn’t stopped since because he loves racing and enjoys the safety and consistency of a track rather than road racing. He says that track cycling is addicting and once you start it is tough to stop. The velodrome gives many riders a place to come to be completely focused and get in a good work out.

The CBTL currently has 150 members and has the capacity for 400.  Participants range from 8 to 67 years old with both men and women. Although the club is mostly made up of men ages 30 to 40, it wants to attract more kids and women to the sport. Memberships to the club are $175 for the season, including equipment rental and insurance on the track; all you have to bring is a helmet! It offers youth sessions, women’s nights, race nights, coached sessions, team nights and try the track events.  

The Glenmore Velodrome opened in 1975 to host the National Track Championships, but has since been extremely worn down due to weather and use. The lack of an indoor track prevented Calgary from hosting any further national competition and limits the training or cross training for competitive athletes. That being said, I had so much fun trying out track cycling and I would really recommend it for anyone who likes cycling, or who is in average to above average shape to try at any age. I will be back! To find out more about track times and how to join, visit http://www.cbtl.ca/ and click on the Membership registration tab on the right side of the page. If you buy it now, membership is only $110 for the last month of the season!


Becoming a Sport Calgary Member:
Sport Calgary members have access to our resources at Sport Calgary such as marketing on social media, blog entries, features and placement on our calendar. Many other benefits will be available with the re-launch of our website in 2018. Becoming a member is easy and FREE! Go to www.sportcalgary.ca, and under the “Join Us” tab click on the link that corresponds with you or your group. Fill out the form and you will be added to our membership. Sport organizations and individuals can join.

Evans Hunt