I was at the Manchester velodrome on Thursday along with press from the BBC, the Times, the Sun, MEN and Setanta to catch up with Olympic champion track sprinter Chris Hoy who was giving interviews in the stands.
Following the interviews we all had an opportunity to ride the track and experience the daunting looking 43 degree banking at Manchester. For those of us who gave it a go it was their first time, including myself. I’m regularly at the velodrome catching up with the Great Britain team in training or photographing Revolution meetings but never had the opportunity to ride the track myself.
Nine of us took the plunge and got kitted up with one of the Dolan track bikes which are available to hire at the velodrome’s track taster sessions (one hour session £9.30 including bike hire, £7.20 concessions).
After our first tentative pedal stokes on a fixed gear bike we were soon on the boards under the expert guidance of Bob Barber, who had organised the day. We did a few warm up laps and sampled riding on the various lined zones of the track as confidence and speed increased. For the final third of the session we were brought in and readied for a timed lap. We’d all been given transponders to be Velcro-ed to our ankles to record our lap times.
Starting from the inner barrier fence at the 220m mark it was a flying start as we passed the pursuit timing point and tried to hold the black pursuit line to attain the fastest lap time.
I was first away and in the drops of the bars I sprinted out of the saddle to maximise my speed as I joined the track and triggered the timing system. I posted a time of 20.552, an average of 43.791km/h and I’m pleased to say I managed to fly the flag for Cycling Weekly and top the media challenge results.
The hour session flew by and was most enjoyable. It’s well worth giving it a go and experience in some way what it is to be a Chris Hoy or a Victoria Pendleton as they swoop round the track.
There’s more to it than meets the eye and I came away with total respect for what they do and achieve. For more info contact the velodrome on 0161 223 2244 or www.britishcycling.org.uk.
A special thanks to Abby Burton (BC’s Marketing & Communications Co-ordinator) for taking the snap of me track side.