Cycling on the track
Autumn has blanketed the country, and this is not a truly happy prospect for many cyclists. The days only get shorter, which means going for a ride after work in the twilight, something that is not always exactly safe. Plus the weather does not always cooperate. Rather than putting a light on their cycle or getting out their rain gear, some amateur cyclists try to get in their exercise on rollers inside. Others find that this is too boring… and just set their cycles aside for a few months. This is unfortunate because there is actually an alternative for riding your cycle in the autumn and winter. The indoor track!
Admittedly, not everyone has an indoor cycling track right next door. There is just the one indoor cycling track in Flanders: the Eddy Merckx Flemish Cycling Centre in Ghent. At the same time, there is a certain amount of initial resistance or fear of failing among many. Will that work, in those steep curves? And they ride such weird bicycles there. There are no brakes or gears, and you cannot coast along there. However, it does bear thinking about because even though it looks complicated, you will get the technique down in no time at all. Moreover, it’s the perfect way to maintain your condition. Cycling on the track is namely very intensive. It requires a great deal of power and endurance. After all, you must continue to pedal at all times.
Because you are rarely the only one cycling, there are a few rules at the track. Naturally, wearing a bicycle helmet and gloves is mandatory. Contrary to the rules of the road, you must always pass on the right. This is only logical; suppose that the person in front of you falls – he or she will most likely start to slide towards the bottom. You cannot brake and are therefore dragged down with this person. You also may not slow down in the curves; on the contrary, it is precisely in these sloping curves that you must increase your speed. In order to stop, you ride down to the bottom of the track – the flat part – and ride a few laps until you are going slow enough to grab on to the railing and click out of your pedals.
You can at least give it a try at the Eddy Merckx Flemish Cycling Centre. Everyone is welcome on the hardwood, 250-metre long cycling track in Ghent’s Blaarmeersen Sports and Recreation Park. The track is also open to amateur cyclists and starters for a couple of hours every weekday. A day pass costs 7.50 euros. You can rent a track cycle on site, which costs 8.50 euros. It is advisable to bring your own pedals and cycling shoes with you; the materials manager will mount them on the rental cycle for you.
In addition to the indoor track in Ghent, there are also eight outdoor cycling tracks in Flanders – definitely worthy alternatives for riding your cycle during dry, winter days. You can find these tracks in Ostend, Bruges, Roeselare-Rumbeke, Beveren-Waas, Wilrijk, Elewijt, Hulshout and Peer.
Take your pedals and cycling shoes and come ride in the 'Eddy Merckx Flemish Cycling Centre'!