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Winter road training can be a bit of a slog - the weather is unkind, you go home from a run with road salt crunching on your teeth and there is way too much bike cleaning involved for my liking. Once a week with my good friends at GGCC is about my outdoors limit and even then it's the prospect of some good banter that makes me drag myself out of bed.
Contrast that with trying your hand at track riding. In early November , just as the dark nights were getting colder and wetter I did just that at the new velodrome in Glasgow. All of a sudden I had discovered a way of riding a bike that doesn't involve climbing hills, the bike doesn't get dirty, the weather doesn't change and if you get dropped you at least get to see the bunch again... and again... and again!
I finished my accreditation process in mid-December and by that stage was well and truly hooked on the exhilaration of track cycling. I had been along to the Wednesday night Scottish Cycling track league on many occasions before Christmas to support the boys from GGCC and get a feel for racing but decided to bite the bullet and give it a go for myself at the head of 2013. To say it was a baptism of fire is an understatement - Laura Trott need not worry - but I loved it and learned a few important factors in a very short space of time.
Number one - the black line is for racing on not the blue one, number two - to hold on and even have a chance of competing one needs a slightly bigger gear than the hire bikes on offer! Solution? Add to the bike family and purchase a track bike! Well, that's what's on my 'justification spreadsheet' and I'm sticking to it.
I got in touch with the team at Dales and was put in the very capable hands of Jonathan Allan whose service has been nothing short of superb from start to finish. We had a very enjoyable conversation about the merits of different materials, wheels, geometry and all presented to me in a way I found easy to understand without being in the least bit patronising.
Within a week Jonathan had found me exactly the bike I was looking for, had it delivered to the shop and then he and two other members of staff stayed beyond closing hours to make sure the bike was properly fitted to me, cleats set in correct position, carried out that all important rear sprocket change and even carried the bike out to the car for me. Service with a smile at it's best.
So, now all that's left for me to do is get on with some racing. That might just be the hardest part of the whole process!!