Riding around the Velodrome at the UCI World Headquarters

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It’s time for a non-product post.  And given today sits in between two different in-depth review posts, I figure we’ll travel back in time to almost a month ago when I visited the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) for the CycleOps Hammertime launch event.

While many cycling brands hold worldwide launch events at epic riding locales, CycleOps decided to hold theirs in a conference room where the federation undoubtedly debates rules and other boring details.  There were nifty little UCI pens and paper tablets though on the table.  Though, they only had about 10 sheets, so you must use them wisely.

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Of course while this was a standard office building conference room (albeit with a pretty scenic view and outer decks/terraces), it was attached to a structure of far larger interest and importance: The UCI velodrome.  In fact, despite all outward photos you may have seen of the famed UCI Headquarters building, it’s actually really tiny.  The vast majority of the structure you think you’re looking at is the velodrome, and not the headquarters.

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In the image below, the headquarters is only this singular pizza slice wedge.  It’s attached to the velodrome and community rec center (with tumbling mats), which dwarf it in size.  Here, I’ve made a nifty map.  That way every time you see the UCI photo on a news story post, it gives it perspective on just how small the UCI offices actually are.

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Given the CycleOps announcement was a trainer, the best way to ride that was indoors.  So instead of taking out some new bike component into the mountains, it only seemed appropriate that folks ride indoors in an equally cool spot: The UCI velodrome.

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Now this would be the second time I’ve been on a velodrome track.  The first was a few years ago in LA at the VELO Sports Center.  In that case though, I was riding my triathlon bike on the track.  So that ends up being just a wee bit different than riding a legit track bike on the track.

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For one, a track bike has a single speed with a rear hub that doesn’t freewheel. That means that there’s no way to stop pedaling without the bike coming to complete and full stop.  So it’s kinda like a spin bike, if the wheel is moving, so are the pedals.  They are one and the same.

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In this case, they did affix PowerTap P1 pedals to the track bikes, so we could check out our power.  But to be honest, I never did that once – mostly because I was so focused on not crashing.  Be it into someone else, into the walls, or just imploding in the middle of the track.

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To get started you lined up against the wall.  This was the approved start/stop area.  Even the pros that were out there riding for a few hours before me were to start/stop there and in the same manner.  You clipped in while holding onto the railing, and then once clipped in you started pedaling.

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You’d start off slowly on the lower portions of the track, and then build up speed to get higher and higher on the wall.

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There were specific minimum speeds needed to keep from sliding down the wall, primarily in the curves.  The UCI coach man told us these speeds.  But my bike kinda sorta lacked a speed sensor (no GPS indoors).  So basically, I just kept pedaling harder and harder hoping it’d be enough.

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Probably the best way to experience this is to show it to you in a video.  So here’s a 360° video I shot using the 360Fly.  Because the 360Fly has generally crap resolution, this falls into the camp of ‘it is what it is’.  Also, it didn’t help that the building only had on perhaps 1/4th (or less) of the lights in the velodrome.  So the lighting is pretty tough.  Still, I think you’ll enjoy.  And remember, you can change the view by just dragging around in the YouTube window.  I try and commentate a bit, but eventually the wind noise becomes too much for the mic.

So there ya have it – a fun snippet of riding around the velodrome!

Thanks for reading all!

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17 Comments

  1. lin

    That video is so cool even with the crap resolution!

    • Chris

      I was thinking the same thing! With many 360* videos I’ve thought “meh,” but this one was super cool! Made it seem a little more like you were there.

  2. Rob

    I love and enjoy track riding. For me they are the best training sessions in the winter.
    Trainer riding is fine, but real riding is so much nicer.

    And the conditions are stable, no wind or other external influences. So also some nice way to detect your FTP under safe conditions.

  3. antoine

    If you like it, the national velodrome in Saint-Quentin en Yvelines is 45 minutes by train from center Paris :
    link to velodrome-national.com

  4. Jim (UK)

    Tut tut! If this were the London Lee Valley Velodrome, you would be slapped on the wrist for 2 reasons.
    1. Not looking behind you (my wrists were severely slapped for this).
    2. Taking a device on to the track (they don’t allow you to wear a Garmin or anything else that could come adrift and cause a crash). But you are Ray Maker and special rules are made for you!
    I bet you are hooked now especially with Saint-Quentin so close – you could cycle there!
    Keep up the great work.

  5. Robert

    You get to experience some pretty cool stuff, thanks for sharing!

  6. Kyle Polansky

    I really liked this 360 video, despite the quality.

    I’m not sure if this exists yet, but it would be really cool to see a program like VirbEdit that allows for power/speed/etc. overlays on 360 video. Would be even cooler to have a special video player that would render it in a consistent position on the screen, with the video able to pan behind the numbers. Would be a video version of the Varia Vision.

  7. Laurens Bloem

    You don’t actually say where it is!
    1860 Aigle
    Switzerland

  8. Logan

    I watched this using my Samsung Gear VR headset and it was pretty awesome, felt like I was riding on the handlebars!

  9. Struan Lownie

    Next time you’re in Northern England try the Manchester Velodrome

  10. John

    Hey Ray,

    Unrelated to this post and your blog, but do you have any idea why Lenovo choose to put the Fn key in the bottom left of the keyboard instead of Ctrl? I saw you use a similar laptop to my work computer, and it’s something that has always bothered me about it.

    Also, that looks like it was a lot of fun! It’s thrilling to get up on the velodrome walls for the first time.

  11. Brett

    Tumbling mats? Outdoors and several hundred meters of them?

    • No, the building indoors that the arrow is pointing to. The outdoor twists are a BMX track…which, may end up having the same end-resultant as a tumbling mat…

    • Brett

      Thanks, Ray, thought the arrow was pointing at the outdoor ribbon-looking thing (BMX track) and not the building.

      Just looked up the track length: 200m, that’s a fairly small one, explaining the steep banking.

  12. Bernie

    Minimum speeds needed to keep you from sliding down the wall?
    First time I hear this.
    How come that many sprinters are going quite slow in the first lap (even standing sometimes) and do not slide down?

    • @Bernie I watched Fosterman do sprints on our velodrome here in Cape Town its really steep, its just down to pure skill they know exactly when that wheel starts to slip.For the rest of us, Speed is your friend and the faster you go the safer it is.
      Ray this looks like an awesome Velo dude!