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Beginning with the best: An introduction to track cycling with Huub-Wattbike

Learning from the best for a first session on the track, but what does the future hold for world beaters Huub-Wattbike?

Myles Warwood
13 Feb 2020

To keep motivation levels high and help bring those fitness goals closer to you, one thing to do it try something new, or shake things up a bit. This month, I tried out track cycling, I was welcomed to the home of the team pursuit world champions and former world record holders, Huub-Wattbike.

If you’re unfamiliar with Huub-Wattbike, I think John Archibald, rider on the team, sums them up best, 'we aim to find the best solution to a problem, regardless of what’s been done in the industry before us. The team has found the most productive way to support fast team pursuit riders, within the boundaries and budget restraints we have.'

The steepness of the banking at an indoor velodrome will be a bit of a shock if you’ve never ridden on the track before. It looks and feels a little bit weird to be headed towards the corner and thinking the bike will get around. A quick chat with the guys beforehand meant that I knew I had to be doing 24kmh to go around the corners on the banking otherwise I would have fallen off.

Without any device on the bike, how fast was 24kmh? Was I going quick enough? Maybe I had to go a bit quicker, hmm… maybe quicker still, I don’t know if this feels like 24kmh. I didn’t fall.

A track bike is different to your road bike, the wheelbase is much shorter meaning that if you were to try and turn the bars completely your wheel will hit your downtube and you’ll fall off, probably. This shouldn’t be an issue though because small adjustments on the handlebars mean big movements, you should never need to turn your bars so much on the track, if you do it’s likely that you’re trying to avoid a crash and you in turn will likely fall off, too.

I was lucky enough for Huub-Wattbike to lend me one of their bikes for the session on track with them, not their TT bike though, never having been in full superman position before maybe that was just a bit too much to ask and definitely too big of a gear to turn.

The bike I was on already had a 60-14 gear ratio which was enough for me to maintain, thanks. A full carbon fibre bike which was slammed at the front making the riding just a bit more daunting. Not to mention the fact that I’ll be riding it with British Champions on my wheel, just days before they retained the national jersey.

Riding track is a constant, there is no rest, no coasting on a fixed gear bike, if you need a rest you have to go slower. Which makes it even more impressive seeing guys hammer around in a time-trial, holding those watts and pushing on each lap, going quicker and quicker still.

Even more so impressive when you consider a track event like the Maddison which goes on for a couple of hundred laps for the men – you’ve got to choose a gear which you can go the distance on and also sprint with, meaning slowing down comes at a cost of turning the gear.

If you’re inspired then find out where your closest velodrome is, follow the advice of the Huub guys and get stuck in with a track accreditation session. John Archibald was 26 when he first rode track, now look he's a multiple national champion on the track and banging on the door of Team GB, if they’d let him in.

If it’s speed on a bike which thrills you, look no further than track, you can be doing 65kmh in a race with many other riders around you relying on bike skill, luck and ability to make it around.

If it’s endurance there’s a race for that. There are also team events, solo events, long distance team events and more. Basically, there will be something for everyone on the track.

Each of the Huub-Wattbike guys said the same thing, try it, go to an accreditation session, see what is for you. There’s no purchase necessary to ride track, all the equipment can be hired there, on the day for your session.

Track cycling caters to all abilities and all budgets and as you get more and more confident and want to progress further you can gain further accreditations and look at joining a team to see how far you can go.

Definitely give it a try, I find it’s one of the most enjoyable disciplines in cycling – there are no hills!

What does the future hold for Huub-Wattbike?

But what next for Huub-Wattbike? Well, the UCI has shifted the goal posts and effectively barred trade teams from riding World Cup events, which have been cut from six events down to three for the 2020/21 season. This means the team from ‘Derbados’ will be no more.

In an open letter to the UCI, Huub-Wattbike said: 'As a multiple World Cup-winning trade team, which has broken records and developed world champions, the announced changes have severe implications for us and will ultimately kill off the existence of trade teams completely.'

The letter, signed by the team's riders and sponsors, went on to say: 'Charlie Tanfield, John Archibald and Ashton Lambie, possibly three of the greatest pursuiters of all time, have come through our team and putting our personal situation aside, we feel the changes are brutally destructive for the sport we know and love.'

Huub-Wattbike plan to end on a swansong, with none of the riders being selected for Team GB, they will head to Bolivia where they will attempt (and we hope get) a new World Record.

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