Monday, 17 January 2011

Manchester Velodrome: Taster Session

A couple of weeks ago I went on an hour long taster session at Manchester Velodrome. The omens were good as I cycled straight there from work, setting off at the same time as everyone else (all going by car) and arrived a good 10 minutes before anyone else. I rode up Ashton Old Rd then up the partially segregated lanes on Alan Turing Way. When you get to the point that you need to turn right off Alan Turing Way the traffic lights have a cyclist only phase to allow you to pootle across the massive expanse of tarmac safely. It's a shame every mega junction doesn't have this style of setup!.

There is a good number of Sheffield stands up the steps out the front, but they are on thier own,in the dark and pretty unappealling. Luckily as part of the new work being done (building an indoor BMX track nextdoor) they have installed a new sheltered cycle rack directly outside reception. It was still fenced off though - solution?....move the fence and use it anyway. Note my cunning use of a Tesco bag which I put on to protect my saddle from the rain......then I realised the shelter has a roof......

Once inside I realised that if you are willing to carry your bike down a short flight of stairs then it was ok to take your bike indoors with you, as a couple of other people had done in the session that was just finishing.

The taster session itself was brilliant. Most in our group got the hang of cycling up on the banking even if there was some apprehension beforehand. It was a bit of a free for all really, with people cycling round at all speeds and over & undertaking on both sides. I guess the idea being to let you have a feel of what it's like to cycle a fixed wheel on a track rather than learn all the rules and etiquettes.

A few random impressions:

  • Listen to the man in yellow and do what he says
  • The blue concrete is slippy as hell in daft clown road shoes.
  • Don't stop pedalling
  • Power through the bends
  • I found it worked best for me if I looked at the exit of the corner
  • Hold the bars gently
  • Shoulder checks before doing anything.
  • Pootling around daily on your slow utility bike is ideal preparation
  • Say thanks to the man in yellow afterwards.
Even if you've got no intention to become a track cycling aficionado and have never been above 15mph on your bike I'd still recommend having a go at a taster session just for the experience. Bonus points are awarded if you ride your bike to get there :-)

 When we had finished there was quite a big group of riders waiting to get on the track so I took a couple of blurry snaps of them doing things properly before heading off.

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