Ride the Black Line

“Stay on the black!”

I still hear the echoes of Brett Davis yelling that at me the first few days I rode on the track.

The black line is the lowest line on the track — and the shortest (and therefore fastest) way around. The really good guys, he said, will even ride a bit under the black line.

Most of the new track riders — like me — tend to drift up higher in the turns. Like here:

So I’ve been practicing. The tricky thing is, if you’re looking down at the line, you’re going to have a hard time riding a nice, steady line. So I don’t look down. But then I see a picture of myself riding, and I see, nope, I’m not really all that close.

Trying to ride right on the black line to me feels like trying to ride right on the edge of the road, to the right of the white line. I feel like I’m going to fall off the edge.

This is one of those examples that makes it clear that there is a large mental component to physical activity. You can practice and practice but if your brain isn’t cooperating it’s going to be difficult.

So I try a few mental tricks — looking where I want to go instead of where I am, aiming for the blue apron instead of the black line. I try it, then let myself peek down at my wheel. Close but not quite yet.

Then tonight I ‘got it’. Well, for a few laps at least. Riding pretty close to the black line the whole way around. I don’t know that I can do it over and over, consistently, at race speed. But it’s a start.

And as a bonus, in the process of writing this, I discovered that there is actually a cool web site called “Ride the Black Line“.



Filed under track cycling

2 responses to “Ride the Black Line

  1. Pete baughman

    Not riding the blue line cots me a medal at nationals. 4 second separated me from the silverand in three k the black line puts me on the podium. I now ride every pace line at or below the black line. Keep up the good work. Hint look through the turn at the exit!

    • Brian

      I’ve been told that also: look through the turn to the exit. I’ve found it hard to lift my head up enough to be able to look far enough out. If I sat a bit more upright on the bike I think it would be easier, but then I’d wouldn’t be as aero.

      But something clicked yesterday, and I was actually finding myself looking at the exit of the turn, and it made a difference. (PS: emailed Tiemeyer with some questions on their track frames. thanks for the tip there).

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