Sunday, July 5, 2009

Forest City Velodrome

Good news, summer is in full swing and so is cycling in TO. Bad news, winter is just around the corner.

Winter here in Toronto with its snow, slush and bitter cold force many cyclists into hibernation from as early as November until as late as March. For many, this means losing that toned butt and superb stamina they developed over the summer, but it doesn't have to end there. Imagine being able to keep cycling during the winter in an environment free of potholes, red lights, head winds and angry motorists. The Forest City Velodrome provides one of the most unique cycling experience as riders can ride on an indoor cycling track capable of reaching speeds in excess of 60km/hr. Located 2-hours outside of Toronto in London it has been open for cyclists since 2005 and is one of only 4 existing in Canada. it is maintained by the Forest City Velodrome Association, a not-for-profit organization of passionate volunteers.

Special bikes are used to ride on the velodrome, known as track bikes. These bikes have only 1 gear ratio which is 'fixed' to the wheel, this does not allow the rider to coast. These bikes also lack brakes and water bottle cages. Though riding on the track may be a bit scary at first it is actually a thrilling experience shared by cyclists various ages and levels. Beginners must go through training sessions to understand how to ride a track bike and how to ride on the track safely. The drills are as much fun as they are necessary to enjoy the track.

Aside from the thrill from speed, track cycling offers many benefits for cyclists. Track bikes are great for improving pedal performance since the bike forces riders to constantly pedal, often at a high cadence. This helps smooth out pedaling technique and really kick the nasty habit of coasting. Workouts can also be done efficiently without having to stop or slow down for red lights or canceled due to bad weather.

I had the opportunity to visit the velodrome yesterday for the second time. During my first visit, a few friends and I went through the Track 1 Session, learning the basics of how to ride the bike on the velodrome. Yesterday, we did Track 2 working on faster riding, riding in a group as well as some really fun drills. Track cycling is definitely something every cyclist should try, especially for those who want to improve their fitness level. the FCV is open year round and is perfect for winter training.

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