Womens Track Workshop – Report

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The Womens Track Workshop on Sunday was a blistering success, both in terms of the weather and the range of skills acquired by all who attended!

People travelled from as far afield as Donegal, Westport and Galway to take the opportunity to learn from one of Irelands best track coaches, Sundrive’s Hugh Byrne.
We started the day with a talk on event preparation with some crucial tips on how to ensure you get the best out of yourself during a competition day. Then it was up on the bikes for a warm up behind the derny (motorbike), which gave Gen, one of our newly qualified female derny pilots a chance to practice her skills also.

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Hugh then talked us through the events in an Olympic Omnium and discussed the different types of sprinting required on the track. The Points race requires a rider to sprint and recover repeatedly so before we knew it we were back behind the motorbike again for a special Points race drill, sprinting past the derny then dropping back in behind and recovering for a few laps. This was a super exercise and there were a few tired legs at the end of it.

People were happy to sit down afterwards and listen to Hugh discuss the type of training required to ride the individual pursuit and he also discussed some pacing strategies. We all had a chance to ride a few 2-lap efforts to try and get this right with some people doing surprisingly well. Others were very fast on the first lap…! We retired for lunch and got some feedback on our pursuit performance to digest along with the sandwiches, fruit and soup, kindly provided by Denise and Steven.

After lunch Hugh talked about how to progress our standing start skills and how to train for the 500m TT. We did a number of drills first to get used to accelerating while standing with some out of the saddle skills followed by some rolling starts to full speed progressions. Great improvements were made by all during this and everyone managed to impress Hugh with their last half lap effort.

After this it was time to practice the real thing – starts in the electronic gate. This was a superb opportunity as its not too often anyone gets the chance to do gate starts out of competition. Nothing like the electronic beeps and the whoosh of air as the gate releases to focus the mind on technique.

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After everyone got a chance to do a good few gate and also some held starts we moved onto some bunch skills. After a brief discussion on the strategies required for riding the elimination race, We were instructed to do a mock race at “half pace.” This migrated into full pace after a lap and everyone gave it socks trying to avoid elimination. It was a great fun!

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Finally, to finish up the motorbike was revved up again this time for the Keirin. We discussed different strategies for this and split the group in two for two races.  There’s something really exciting about the rising pitch of the derny engine  as the pace builds before the motorbike pulls off at 45 kph and all hell breaks loose with 700m to go.

A great day was had by all and a special mention has to go to both Michelle McKinney (Galway Bay CC) and Emily Brick (Orwell) whom had only been on the track once before each for accreditation and were well able to hold their own in all the drills and races. I hope to see all the girls back to practice their skills over the next few weeks at Sundrive Velodrome.

Thanks to the Womens Comission for supporting the event and to Hugh Byrne for all the advice and coaching and all who helped out for a fantastic day. The lovely pictures were provided by Anthony Gallagher and Brendan Whelan.

Anyone interested in giving track a go email Susie Mitchell the track rep at susievet@gmail.com.