The task facing Shanaze Reade?s opponents in Beijing just got a whole lot tougher. Not only did the two time senior BMX world champion wipe the floor with them at the world champs earlier this year, she now has a new track to train on.
Reade?s preparations for the inaugural BMX competition at the Olympic Games were being hampered by the lack of practice facilities. Competition level BMX tracks in the UK are few and far between, and none of them are anything like the track in Beijing.
The Super Moto course in China has a colossal 20m, near veritcal start gate, and the only existing replica is at the UCI?s headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland. With that track fully booked up by other nations going to China an alternative had to be found.
"We knew that familiarity with the start ramp was critical for success in Beijing," said British Cycling's Performance Director Dave Brailsford. "So we decided to build one and thereby remove the fear of the unknown."
"We spotted a vacant plot of land near the Velodrome and persuaded Manchester Council to let us use it. We still needed to build the jumps and convinced local Firm Manchester Tippers that it would be an ideal place for them to get rid of any unwanted top soil." All they then needed was someone to build the track
?We contacted Tom Ritz, the American guy who built the Beijing track and asked him to come over and build it,? BMX coach Grant White explained. Ritz duly built the track from memory, only referring to his plans at the end of the process to check his measurements were correct.
It turned out he?d built it from scratch to within a couple of inches of the correct specifications. Concrete powder was then raked in to track and asphalt laid on the two corners.
The course only features two straights and two bends, but is sufficient to give Reade, and GB's solo men?s entrant, Liam Philips, the practice they need before they fly to China.
If Reade can bring back a gold medal, it might just be enough to convince the Council to keep the track. ?The track only has temporary planning permission at the moment,? Brailsford said, ?but we would like to keep it as we?re expecting a large growth in BMX post Beijing.?
Shanaze Reade doesn't look too worried at the top of the start ramp - not even with that jump at the bottom!
That's one very high start ramp.
Reade checks out one of the jumps on foot with BMX coach Grant White.
World champions have a knack of making everything look so easy.
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Editor of Cycling Weekly magazine, Simon has been working at the title since 2001. He fell in love with cycling when channel surfing in 1989 and happening across the greatest ever edition of the Tour de France. He's been a Greg LeMond fan ever since. He started racing in 1995 when moving to university in North Wales gave him more time to train and some amazing roads to train on. He raced domestically for several years, riding everything from Surrey leagues to time trials, track and even a few Premier Calendars. In 2000 he spent one season racing in Belgium with the Kingsnorth International Wheelers.
Since working for Cycling Weekly he has written product reviews, fitness features, pro interviews, race coverage and news. He has covered the Tour de France more times than he can remember along with two Olympic Games and many other international and UK domestic races. He can still be seen at his club's evening races through the summer but he still hasn't completed the CW5000 challenge!
SIMON IS CURRENTLY RIDING
Road bike: Pinarello K8S with Shimano Dura Ace
TT bike: Specialized Venge road bike with FFWD wheels and Easton Attack TT bars
Gravel bike: N/A
Training bike: Rourke custom hand made with Reynolds 853 steel
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