British velodromes

Thinking of taking up track cycling? We give you the skinny on some of the velodromes of the UK

Taking up track cycling is an excellent way to hone your cycling skills.

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

Derby Velodrome

Opened in: March 2015

Capacity: 1700

Website: www.derbyarena.co.uk/cycling

Telephone: 01332 640011

Email:derbyarena@derby.gov.uk

Address: Derby Arena, Royal Way, Pride Park, Derby, DE24 8JB

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 Velodrome (London)

Opened in: 2012 (2014 for the public)

Capacity: 7,000

Website: Lee Valley website

Telephone: 08456 770 603

Email: velopark@leevalleypark.org.uk

Address: Abercrombie road, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. E20 3AB

Other facilities: Closed road circuit, BMX, off-road trails

Perhaps the most beautiful velodrome in the world, probably the most energy efficient, definitely the iconic venue of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Lee Valley Velopark is a shining example of that honourable but difficult aim of ‘legacy’.

There's off road riding as well as the BMX circuit and a road race circuit.

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. 

The Chris Hoy Velodrome (Glasgow)

Opened in: 2011

Capacity: 2000 permanent plus extra 2000 temporary

Website: www.emiratesarena.co.uk

Telephone: 0141 287 7000

Email: emiratesarena@glasgowlife.org.uk

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.

Newport Velodrome

Opened in: 2003

Capacity: 500

Website: Newport Velodrome Website

Telephone: 01633 656 656

Email: sportandleisure.bookings@newport.gov.uk

Address: Newport International Sports Village, Velodrome way, Newport, South Wales. NP19 4RA

Other facilities: Speedway track

Newport’s indoor track was built as a training venue to keep the budget down, but it is said to be Ron Webb‘s (the worlds most renowned track builder) favourite track. Although the 500 capacity doesn’t allow for major competitions to take place it is well used and track sessions here are booked up months in advance.

The British team used it as it’s pre-Olympic holding camp ahead of Beijing 2008 and London 2012. Newport is also one of the reasons there is a disproportionate amount of talented young Welsh riders in the British track squad.

There's a selection of sessions for seniors, men over 35, women and juniors. Track league takes place in the winter months from October to March. Track league and SQTs (structured quality training) are for accredited riders only. Track tasters for beginners and corporate sessions are available, too.

Manchester Velodrome

Opened in: 1994

Capacity: 3,500

Website:www.nationalcyclingcentre.com

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. 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.

It may not look like much, and it may be situated in an unappealing part of Manchester, but the recent building work, that includes an Olympic standard indoor BMX track, bigger cafe and light, spacious entrance has improved it no end. Events are regularly run here from the well established Revolution series to World Cups and World Championships.

In fact a visit here for an international level event is a must for cycling fans as the knowledgeable home crowd always makes for an electric atmosphere – especially when the Brits are doing well.

The velodrome hosts sessions for beginners and intermediates as well as SQTs (structured quality training) for accredited riders - there are time tables here. 

Calshot Velodrome

Opened in: 1997

Capacity: Unconfirmed

Website: www.hants.gov.uk/thingstodo/outdoorcentres/recreation/velodrome

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

Bournemouth Velodrome

Opened in: 

Website:www.activedorset.org/velodrome

Telephone: 01202 458 889

Email: info@activedorset.org or richardeastham@hotmail.com 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 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)

Photo: Daniel Gould

Photo: Daniel Gould

Opened in: 1891

Website: www.hernehillvelodrome.com

Telephone: None provided

Email:info@hernehillvelodrome.com

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.

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.

Reading Velodrome Racing hold a track league series and provide information on training sessions and the Palmer Park Velo cycling club is also based here.

Welwyn Velodrome

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: trackleague@welwynwheelers.org.uk 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

Other facilities:

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.

All velodromes in the UK:

VelodromeLocation
Aldersley TrackAldersley, Wolverhampton
Bournemouth Cycle CentreBournemouth, Dorset
Calshot VelodromeCalshot (near Southampton)
Derby ArenaDerby
Forest Town WelfareMansfield, Nottinghamshire
Gosling Sports ParkWelwyn Garden City
Herne Hill VelodromeLondon
London VeloparkLeyton, east London
Long View LeisureHuyton Knowsley, Merseyside
Lyme Valley StadiumNewcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
Manchester VelodromeManchester
Middlesbrough Sports VillageMiddlesbrough
Halesowen VelodromeHalesowen, West Midlands
The Mountbatten CentrePortsmouth
Palmer Park StadiumReading
Poole Park TrackPoole, Dorset
Preston ParkBrighton, East Sussex
Quibell Park StadiumScunthorpe
Roundhay ParkLeeds, West Yorkshire
Richmondshire VelodromeRichmond, North Yorkshire
York Sport VelodromeYork, North Yorkshire
Caird ParkDundee
Sir Chris Hoy VelodromeGlasgow
Meadowbank VelodromeEdinburgh
Carmarthen ParkCarmarthen
Maindy StadiumCardiff
Newport VelodromeNewport
Tommy Givan TrackOrangefield, Belfast