Life is about the journey - some roads are not always what they seem but you sure learn a great deal from them!
Published September 26th 2013
Track Cycling has been around since 1870. Back then, they did not have TV or other electronics, and Track cycling was a favourite spectator sport. Of course, a lot of betting accompanied this sport, and events such as the 6 Day event was one of the highest paid events in its era. The 6 Day event consisted of a team of cyclist to ride around a velodrome for 6 consecutive days. The team that completed the most laps won. Six day racing is predominant in Europe today; however, you will find that the setting is a little more relaxed with live music, bars and restaurants.
The Speed Dome Midvale (photo courtesy of Tony Lendrum Photography)
Over the years, track cycling has experienced a huge decline as a spectator sport. With the introduction of Television, and other entertainment, many spectators were spoiled for choice. The level of participation, however, has seen a slight increase, especially in Western Australia, over the last few years.
Marshall Major Taylor who is an iconic cyclist and defied all the odds by being the first African American to win a number of world records during the late 1800's.
Those living in Perth are lucky to have an indoor velodrome where they have the choice to watch races for FREE! Indoor velodromes, at one stage in history, could be found in almost every major city in the USA. However, with the decline as a spectators sport, these velodrome were dismantled and replaced with development projects such as hotels, apartments, or office blocks. Today, you will only find a handful of indoor velodromes in a country, if any!
The construction of the indoor velodrome now known as the Speed Dome in Midvale
Track Cycling has a range of races that can certainly entertain any spectator. The Keirin, for example, is one of the highest paid cycling events in Japan. The Madison, which was named after the Madison Square Gardens, is a very challenging race where one rider propels the other forward.
You can watch track racing on Friday Nights at the Midvale Speed Dome. To find out more about the schedule you can visit Track Cycling WA. However, to understand the types of races I have listed them below with some photographs.
This race is about speed and tactics. There are two riders that will start from a held standing position. The race is over 3 laps. When the gun goes off, one of the riders will lead out. Although he/she is in front, it is not always the best place to be because if the rider behind reacts with a sprint, it takes about a second for the other rider to respond which is often too late.
Sometimes sprinters will lead out at a snail pace, with the front rider trying to edge the other rider in front. Other times, they will lead out at a fairly fast pace and then will have a full sprint to the finish.
The track itself has a number of coloured lines on it. The rider that is riding below the red line has the lead lane. No other rider can come down into the lane. If they do, they are disqualified. Therefore, while the lead rider is in front, the rider behind has to over take the rider outside the red line and is only allowed in the lane once he/she has his whole bike in front.
From a spectators view point, you will see cyclist come to a standing position on the track trying to out wit the other to take lead. Sometimes, this is part of the tactics as the one trying to edge the other forward can often place a sprint attack catching the other rider off guard. Sprinting is probably one of the most fastest and the most exciting races in Track Racing.
The Scratch Race
A scratch race where riders start from a stationary position often aided by the guard rail.
This is the most basic of all races. Cyclists will start, often from a standing position with the aid of the guard rail. The race consists of a number of laps which will be determined by the race organiser and graded to each age category. The winner is the one that is able that crosses the line first after these allocated laps.
From a spectator point of view, you will witness cyclists jostling for the right position, cyclist trying their luck in trying to make a break away from the pack, and an exciting finale of a sprint finish.
Named the Keirn in Japan, which means racing wheels, cyclists will be paced by a motorbike over 8 laps (based on a 250 m velodrome). Riders will be held at a standing-start position and will be released as the motorbike passes them on the first lap. Riders will sprint to get into the best position which is directly behind the bike. The motorbike will increase in speed over 6 laps, and will generally leave the track when cyclists have about 600 m to go.
Cyclist being motor paced during the race. Here you will see riders getting ready to react when the motorbike is about to leave the track.
From a spectator point of view, you will see riders jostle for the correct position behind the bike. The cyclists behind the motorbike will get the most protection from the wind, and therefore have enough energy to sprint to the finish. However, there is also tactics involved, as there are 6 riders on the track wanting to win the big prize. The rider that is directly behind the bike cannot see what the other riders are doing behind him/her. As a result, some cyclists who are in position 3 or 4 can place a massive sprint the moment the motorbike leaves the track. By the time the front rider reacts, the race will be over. This is definitely one of the more exciting events to watch.
Elimination is a race held over a number of laps generally organised by the raced coordinator. The goal of this race is to make sure that you are not last. The last rider on each lap will be eliminated.
The rider that is in last spot will be eliminated. You can see the rider in black is observing his position to the rider in blue and white.
From a spectator's point of view, you will see riders sprint the last 100 meters to ensure they can continue the race. Position is paramount, because if you are tucked behind a rider, you may not have the chance to sprint pass and therefore are eliminated. This race is generally fast, and you will witness a lot of tactics during this race.
The Points Race
The race is mostly about endurance. It is generally held over a longer distance with points being allocated to the first 3 riders over the finish line during the race. Generally, points are allocated at set intervals such as every 5 laps. The rider with the most points at the end of the race will win the race.
The cyclist that cross the line first on certain laps will collect points to win the race over all.
From a spectators point of view you will see a lot of sprinting with riders trying their luck to break away from the pack. If they are able to stay in front, they will be able to collect all the points, and therefore win the race. A rider has to complete all the laps, even if he/she has the most points in order to win the race. The finish of this race is generally the most exciting part with cyclists pulling out all tactics to win the final lap, which generally has the most points allocated to it. This is a race where any cyclist can be the winner.
If you wish to watch any of these races you can head down to the Speed Dome, which can be found in Midvale. Racing starts at 7 pm and generally finishes at about 9 pm. The finish time is dependent on how long each race takes. Entry to watch track racing is free with spectator seating available. Although the seats are somewhat comfortable, I do recommend that you take a pillow to sit on. There is a commentator that will let spectators know about the race and, of course, give his comments during the race. However, if you want to know more, it is best to contact Track Cycling WA.