Taking up track cycling is an excellent way to hone your riding skills – but locating your nearest velodrome and wading through the information around bike hire and accreditation isn’t always easy.
Riding at the velodrome can bring your group riding skills on dramatically. You’re very often riding close to the wheel ahead, and sometimes in a close bunch.
Since you’re spinning a fixed gear continuously, pedal stroke and power will be developed with some time on the boards. And with a coach always present, you’ll learn plenty about fitness and race craft.
Are track cycling sessions suitable for beginners?
Most velodromes operate using an accreditation system. A velodrome accreditation is much like a driving test – a coach will observe the rider before signing them off. Accredited riders will take part in race training sessions, not suitable for beginners.
In the lead up to becoming an accredited rider, beginners will take part in a number of sessions – the first of which will be a taster class designed for complete novices.
During this session, you’ll learn to stop and start on a fixed gear bike before testing your skills out on the boards.
Taster or beginner sessions are particularly popular for cycling clubs or groups of friends who want to have a go together – there will always be a coach who will tailor the experience to the needs of those taking part.
At the vast majority of velodromes, you’ll be able to hire a bike, shoes and a helmet.
Indoor velodromes in the UK
Attracting elite riders and high profile events, Derby Arena also offers training and recreational options for the general public. There are specialist sessions for novices, young riders, juniors, women-only, seniors and veterans.
Track league takes place between September and November, with details about the racing posted on the Facebook page here.
Lee Valley Velopark (London)
Opened in: 2012 (2014 for the public)
Website: Lee Valley website
Telephone: 08456 770 603
Address: Abercrombie road, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. E20 3AB
Other facilities: Closed road circuit, BMX, off-road trails
The iconic venue of the London 2012 Olympic Games, Lee Valley Velopark is a shining example of that honourable but difficult aim of ‘legacy’.
Accreditation is a four stage process, after which there are a host of ‘Race Ready’ sessions available. Those preparing for accreditation can also attend drop-in sessions.
The track league takes place in the winter months and is organised by Full Gas.
For those after extras, there’s indoor training sessions, off road riding as well as the BMX circuit and a road race circuit.
The Chris Hoy Velodrome (Glasgow)
Opened in: 2011
Capacity: 2000 permanent plus extra 2000 temporary
Telephone: 0141 287 7000
Address: Emirates Arena, 1000 London road, Glasgow. G40 3HG
Other facilities: Sports arena, spa, gym
Built as part of Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games bid the track in Glasgow hosted that competition along with a junior world championships, a track world cup and Revolution meetings.
Designed by German track builder Ralph Schuermann it is the only indoor track in Scotland.
Accreditation is a four stage process, after which it’s possible to attend a selection of race focused training sessions. It’s also possible to book the velodrome out for group events.
Opened in: 2003
Website: Newport Velodrome Website
Telephone: 01633 656 656
Address: Newport International Sports Village, Velodrome way, Newport, South Wales. NP19 4RA
Other facilities: Speedway track
Opened in: 1994
Telephone: 0161 223 2244
Email: Contact form on website
Address: The National Cycling Centre, Stuart Street, Manchester, M11 4DQ
Other facilities: Olympic standard indoor BMX track. Clayton Vale Mountain bike trails.
When the Manchester velodrome opened in 1994, as part of Manchester’s 2000 Olympic bid, it was branded a white elephant, a soon-to-be underused facility that would waste council money. Over twenty years later it is the beating heart of British Cycling’s ascension to the top of world cycling and the self-styled ‘busiest track in the world’. Multiple world and Olympic champions, a Tour de France winner and world renowned coaching and talent spotting setup can all be traced back to this venue.
Manchester Velodrome hosts Team GB, so there are quite a few ‘out of bounds’ time slots. But it also runs sessions for beginners and intermediates as well as SQTs (structured quality training) for accredited riders – there are time tables here.
Opened in: 1997
Telephone:023 8089 2077
Email: Contact form on website
Address: Calshot Activities Centre, Calshot, Calshot Spit, Fawley, Calshot, Southampton SO45 1BR
Other facilities: Recreational climbing wall, dry ski slope
Calshot Velodrome is housed inside a old aircraft hanger at Calshot Activities Centre. It’s a wooden velodrome but is famous for being just 142.85 metres long – which means the bankings have a 45 degree angle, and the straights are at 20 degrees.
The air hanger also houses a dry ski slope and indoor climbing and there are more outdoor activities on offer as well as the chance to sail along the coast just outside – so it’s a good place to take the whole family.
The velodrome offers taster sessions as well as group bookings and advanced training. It does have a reputation, however, for being quite cold – so extra layers are recommended.
Watch: Beginner’s guide to team pursuit
Outdoor velodromes in the UK
Telephone: 01202 458 889
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or richardeastham@ for track league
Address: Slades Farm Open Space in Ensbury Park, Bournemouth, BH10 4HG
Other facilities: Public green space with pitches, skate park
Located in Slades Park Open Space in Ensbury Park, Bourenmouth Velodrome is managed by Active Dorset in partnership with Bournemouth Borough Council, British Cycling and local cycling clubs.
Annal membership to the velodrome can be purchased for £60 (adult, £50 under 18s) – this allows use of the track at any time outside of planned sessions and entry to track league, which runs from June to August.
Non members can still take part in the track league events, in 2017 this was charged at £5 per event. There’s a wide range of sessions on offer, with information available here.
Herne Hill Velodrome (London)
Opened in: 1891
Telephone: None provided
Address: 104 Burbage Rd, Herne Hill, London SE24 9HE
Other facilities: Cyclocross circuit
Nestled in the residential roads around Dulwich in East London, Herne Hill Velodrome is a 450 metre track with a banking gradient of 30 degrees.
The track was built in 1891 and hosted the Olympic games in 1948. The track is supported by the Friends of Herme Hill Velodrome and Herne Hill Velodrome Trust, organisations striving to maintain it as a much loved venue for present and future generations.
The velodrome crowdfunded to raise money for a new pavilion, built in 2016. It hosts regular training sessions for juniors and adults or all levels, with women and vet only sessions as well as half-term holiday clubs and corporate events.
Track league runs on a Wednesday night through the summer months, and requires race accreditation which is a two stage process – Training and Race Accreditation – the first of which allows you to attend Intermediate training sessions on Saturday morning. Basic skills sessions on Saturday’s are available to those preparing for Training Accreditation.
Palmer Park Velodrome (Reading)
Opened in: 1988
Website: Info at www.readingvelodromeracing.co.uk/training/ (no official website)
Telephone: 0118 937 5080
Address: Palmer Park Sports Stadium/Wokingham Rd, Reading RG6 1LF
Other facilities: Athletics stadium in the centre
An outdoor track measuring 459 metres, Palmer Park Velodrome has hosted national events including the British National Derny Championships.
The velodrome was closed in 2002 due to subsidence and disallowed from holding races in in 2015 when it failed a safety check. Training was permitted however and racing was re-allowed following repairs.
Website: welwynwheelers.org.uk/track-league for session info, or www.better.org.uk/leisure-centre/welwyn for facilities
Telephone: 01707331056 for Better Leisure Centre, or 07831 402076 for Welwyn coach coordinator Francis Gallacher
Email: email@example.com for track league and training
Address: Gosling Sports Park, Stanborough Road, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, AL8 6XE
Other facilities: Gym, athletics track, fitness, classes, gold, tennis and dry ski slope all managed by Better Leisure Centre group
Early training ground of Laura Kenny, nee Trott, Welwyn’s velodrome at the Gosling Sports Park sits alongside a raft of other leisure centre offerings.
Training sessions are organised by the Welwyn Wheelers cycling club – with track sessions from March until September and cyclocross and road bike sessions in the winter. Details of sessions can be found here whilst info on the summer track league is here.
Preston Park Velodrome
Opened in: 1877
Website: Brighton and Hove website or Sussex Cycle Racing League (SCRL) website
Telephone: 01273 290000
Email: Form on SCRL site or Brighton and Hove website
Address: The Ride, Brighton BN1 6LA
Preston Park Velodrome is thought to be the oldest velodrome in the UK, having been built in 1877 though the surface was replaced with tarmac in 1936. It was closed to cycling in 2015 due to safety concerns, but re-opened in 2016 following refurbishment. The track has four straights, of unequal length, and is 579.03 metres long.
Track league is organsied by the Sussex Cycle Racing League (SCRL) and takes place on Wednesday night from April to mid-August each year. There are also training sessions on Saturday mornings and Friday evenings.
Velodrome accreditation, training sessions and track league timings are likely to change. If you’re aware of inaccuracies or know that things have changed since our last update, please let us – and everyone else – know in the comments. We’ll update this page regularly.
All velodromes in the UK:
|Aldersley Track||Aldersley, Wolverhampton|
|Bournemouth Cycle Centre||Bournemouth, Dorset|
|Calshot Velodrome||Calshot (near Southampton)|
|Forest Town Welfare||Mansfield, Nottinghamshire|
|Gosling Sports Park||Welwyn Garden City|
|Herne Hill Velodrome||London|
|London Velopark||Leyton, east London|
|Long View Leisure||Huyton Knowsley, Merseyside|
|Lyme Valley Stadium||Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire|
|Middlesbrough Sports Village||Middlesbrough|
|Halesowen Velodrome||Halesowen, West Midlands|
|The Mountbatten Centre||Portsmouth|
|Palmer Park Stadium||Reading|
|Poole Park Track||Poole, Dorset|
|Preston Park||Brighton, East Sussex|
|Quibell Park Stadium||Scunthorpe|
|Roundhay Park||Leeds, West Yorkshire|
|Richmondshire Velodrome||Richmond, North Yorkshire|
|York Sport Velodrome||York, North Yorkshire|
|Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome||Glasgow|
|Meadowbank Velodrome||Edinburgh – now closed|
|Tommy Givan Track||Orangefield, Belfast|