Track Cycling

Track cycling involves a range of events ranging from anaerobic sprint events but longer events require a high level of aerobic fitness and tactical skill. All events are raced on an indoor or outdoor circular track called a velodrome on specific track bikes which are single speed and have no brakes.

About Track Cycling

Track Cycling events include the sprint, individual time trial, Kieran, team sprint, individual pursuit, scratch race, points race, Madison and team pursuit. The omnium is competed over two consecutive days and involves six different events. Track events last from under 30 seconds up to an hour for sub-elite riders reaching speeds of 50-60km/hr in some races. Track sprinters do the majority of their training at the velodrome in addition to specialized training on a stationary bike and weights sessions in the gym.

Training Diet

Sprint track cyclists should have a training diet that promotes optimal power to weight ratio. Therefore, promoting recovery from strength and long, intense track sessions is essential while ensuring energy intake is does not cause excess weight gain. This can require careful planning.  Sprint track cyclists have lower carbohydrate requirements compared with road cyclists because of the nature of their training. 3-5g/kg is likely appropriate depending body composition goals and phase of the season. Carbohydrate intake should not be compromised around training sessions to ensure maximal training adaptations.

Protein containing foods should feature regularly throughout the day to optimize recovery and maintain lean muscle mass. Protein requirements will be similar to other strength athletes around 1.6 – 1.8g/kg per day (this may be higher for teenage athletes who are still growing). This can be met by including adequate serves of lean meat, low fat dairy products (or alternatives) or vegetarian sources of protein such as tofu, nuts and legumes. Recovery products like whey protein powder formulations may be convenient, but are not essential as a well-planned diet will provide sufficient protein requirements.

Fluid Needs

Environmental conditions, including whether the velodrome is indoors or outdoors, will influence fluid requirements.  Indoor velodromes are often heated for competitions to provide a ‘fast track’ for the riders while outdoor velodrome may be hot, cool or windy depending on the climate.

There is a lot of sitting around between races and cyclists should ensure that they are not over drinking from boredom or nerves or may feel bloated and uncomfortable. Cyclists need to remember to replace fluids lost during the warm up, especially if the weather is hot or humid.

There is no need to consume fluid during short races. For longer races, it is essential the cyclists start well hydrated and use the time between heats and finals to rehydrate as track bikes do not allow athletes to carry drink bottles.

Eating before competition

If an athlete has eaten sufficiently to replenish their carbohydrate stores over the training week carbohydrate stores are not a limiting factor for performance in sprint track cycling events, thus carbohydrate loading or large pre-event meals are not necessary. The most important thing about the pre-event meal is that the cyclist feels comfortable to push themselves to maximal intensity.

The meal prior the event should be consumed approximately 2hrs before the warm up. The pre-event meal and any additional snacks should be low in fat and fibre, easily digested and very importantly, trialled in training first.

Eating and drinking during competition

When multiple events are raced in one day or evening, total energy needs must be considered. Small frequent snacks will help with recovery as well as preparation for the next event. Foods such as cereal bars or bananas are convenient and appropriate options. Where time before events is short, sports drinks may be useful.

Recovery

Recovery after long training sessions (on the bike or in the gym) or a day of racing is very important, especially if the cyclist is going to train or race again the next day. It is important to kick start nutrition recovery with a meal or snack containing carbohydrate to replace muscle glycogen stores; protein to speed up muscle repair and fluid to replace sweat losses within 30-60 minutes of finishing training or competition. If it is not possible to consume a recovery meal within the hour of finishing the session the cyclist should be prepared with recovery options for the drive home, such as a lean meat and cheese sandwich or milk drink. This should be followed up with a meal containing lean protein, nutritious carbohydrates and vegetables or salad.