Odd Down coaching proves successful

A group of cyclists goes faster and further by the members often going slower than they are individually capable of. Which is easier said than done. That’s why Velo Club Walcot uses a professional British Cycling-accredited coach and the purpose-made Odd Down Circuit to hone group riding skills in safety.

The most noticeable characteristic of a group of inexperienced cyclists trying to ride together is that they will often be spread along and across the road as they either try to assert their superior strength by riding at the front, or nervously avoiding risk of collision by hanging at a safe distance.

The resulting dog’s breakfast takes up too much space on the road and leaves a trail of exhausted riders as one-by-one each drops off until the last is left wondering where all their friends have gone. It’s not pretty, and quite the opposite of what an experienced group is able to achieve.

British Cycling-accredited coach Felix Young of Avid Sport teaches that, counter-intuitively, making an effort considerably below your maximum potential and focusing instead on riding in as compact and relaxed a way as possible eventually results in higher average speeds, especially if you’re planning on longer distances. “But it takes practice,” says Felix.

And that’s where the smooth and wide tarmac surface at Odd Down Circuit comes into its own. No potholes, gravel patches or motorists trying to overtake at inopportune moments. It initially seems repetitive but everyone says the same thing after multiple laps of the twisty loop: you gradually go faster on the corners and smoother in a tighter, more purposeful pack with less temptation to grab the brakes as confidence grows.

According to new member Matthew Sage, “I’ve attended all the sessions so far and have thoroughly enjoyed each one. Huge benefit of learning to ride in a group and how different the pace and power input can be depending on position in the group. Cornering on previous sessions also good for practice.”

The final session in this autumn coaching series takes place at Odd Down Circuit at 9.45 for 10am on Sunday 19th November 2018. Free to Velo Club Walcot members and £5 for non-members.