Back in Manchester on Monday for my "Taster Improver" track session - basically the 2nd stage of 4 for getting track accreditation
There were about 15 riders in total looking to progress - I was slightly taken aback by the number of them that had done the session before - their lack of progression was perhaps an indication that getting a pass was not going to be straightforward
The first exercise involved creating a chaingang with changing from the back, and on the inside, with the group starting on the blue line and overtaking on the black line. My first error of the day was probably starting too close to one of the coaches who was riding in the session. We were told to stay close - between half and a full wheel behnd the rider in front. The exercise seemed to go well enough but we were informed after it that only 4 or 5 riders did it to a suitable quality, with too much closing the gaps quickly and then slowing down too quickly. I was one of the guilty parties, as I'd been more focussed on maintaining the "correct" distance from the rider in front, and the differing abilities of the riders made the pacing very erratic, making it difficult to keep it steady
The next exercise involved riding the blue line and changing every half lap, meaning there would be perhaps 3 or 4 riders moving back from the top of the track at any one time. The coach would be pacing us from the black line. I started at the back - the changes seemed very slow. By the time about half the riders had moved up the track I still had another 6 or 7 in front of me. Then one of the riders at the top of the track came off, sliding down into the bunch and taking out one rider, with the next one unable to avoid the carnage. I was the first rider not to fall, but after a couple more laps whiel they checked out the fallen rders the exercise was curtailed
The final exercise involved groups of 3 or 4 moving from the blue line onto the black line and picking up pace to take a lap on the field. I was in the back group - it was originally going to be a group of 2, but we were eventually joined by the first group (of 2 again) and formed a group of 4. Everything was so slow however that we obly managed to gain half a lap before we were all called off the track.
So to the results - a failure. In fact only 4 or 5 were passed, and I suspect most of those had done the session previously. There was a definite feeling of not knowing what was expected of you - a bit like taking a driving test without having had any formal lessons
I'll give it another go, but it's not a major issue if I don't get accreditation - I've no intention of doing open racing on the Manchester track - the main purpose would be to allow me to ride the vets Structured Quality Training sessions. Having said that, I thnk that for the type of racing I do want to do (pursuiting and TTs), the skills they train you are not so important. I do think I'll have a much better idea of what is expected next time.
I was back in Manchester yesterday and took in another taster session. It was not a session I normally do (last night was my first experience of competitive first-team football at Old Trafford on a Thursday night, making a daytime Thursday session viable), and there did not seem to be any "regulars" there, so I just did my own thing, which was basically an hour TT (63 and a half minutes to be a bit more accurate). I rode alone throughout and got minimal drafting benefit. I still managed 38.4kph for the full session, and 38.8kph for the hour ignoring the speeding up and slowing down laps.
The Strava record is here. If you go into the detailed analysis you can see the spikes in speed and elevation where I overtook the main bunch (not so much in the middle of the session when most of the riders left the track for a rest). Strava suggests an average power of 268w, which ties into the hike calculator for my overall average speed. That increases to about 285w for my "best hour". There will be an element of drafting benefit, but I spent at least 5% of the time on the hoods which would more than compensate for that, so overall I reckon that was my best ever 1hr power output