After another councilling session with my trainer, I clipped myself back onto the bike and started to build up some pace around the track. This was to be my last practice before doing a solo timed lap with everyone watching so I was determined to make a little more progress this time, as I had barely ventured onto the wood panelling of the actual track so far! The main issue with track cycling is the need for speed in order to make the steep corners more stable and the main issue with that is in order to gain speed you need to have confidence and muscle power.
These were not things I had arrived with an abundance of so I needed to pace myself and leave enough energy in the tank to pedal back to a standstill. I decided to push myself a little harder “it’s only a short burst” I kept telling myself as I pushed on faster and faster with the continual shouts of encouragement coming from the side of the track.
I managed to tease the bike up a little way up the track but each time finding myself moving quickly down to the bottom of the track as I approached the downward slope of the corner exit. I felt I had failed to really gain any confidence for my timed lap and with that came off the track to watch a humiliating display of skill and speed from Robert Forstemann before I took to the track once more to time my lap.
For those of you not familiar with Mr Quadzilla, he looks like a guy who wrestles tigers and drags reluctant elephants into their cages at the zoo, rather than a cyclist. Most cyclists I know are pretty lean looking physically whereas Robert looks like a guy from an advert for protein shakes who’s assets have been modified in photoshop.
There was no camera-trickery here though, this guy was the real deal. He’s been known to pedal his bike with a dynamo wired to a toaster and successfully make toast with the power of his legs alone, so I knew he was going to put down an impressive yet humiliating display of track skills when he set off on his lap. He didn’t disappoint! He wasted no time to wind up to a flying lap and blasted around while we watched his technique ever hoping it would help improve our own attempt.
I now know what it must have felt like for James May (aka captain slow) on Top Gear when the stig would go out and set a timed lap to beat. The only word to describe my feeling was futility. I was rapidly residing myself to a humiliating lap time at the back of the pack.