Manchester Velodrome

One of the greatest legacy’s so far from the 2012 Olympics must be around the number of people actively taking up cycling and this has been backed up by how difficult it is to get any track time at the home of British Cycling, the Manchester Velodrome.

Thankfully though, the boys at Out of the Saddle Cycling Club kindly invited some members of my club, the Cappuccino Cycling Club to join them on a club session they had managed to book on 26th January.

Walking into the velodrome knowing that some of Britain’s greatest cyclists walk through the same doors on a daily basis gives you a real buzz.  After a quick change it is time to collect your bike (if you have hired one), drop your stuff in the collection area and clip in to your pedals before hitting the boards.

Riding the boards is a lot harder than most people imagine.  The likes of Geraint Thomas, Ed Clancy, Chris Hoy and Laura Trott make it look so easy, but it is far from that.  I ride my bike on a regular basis on the road, but turning a “fixed” big gear at a high cadence for a sustained period is something else!  The lactic acid soon fills the legs and then the pain starts to kick in – all you can do is tell your legs to shut up and get on with it.

The two hours pass quickly and it is time to warm down, shower and as was the case on Saturday go for a much deserved recovery curry on Rusholme’s Curry Mile.

A great way to spend a Saturday night!  Enjoy the video…..

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Roubaix Velodrome

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Roubaix Velodrome, a set on Flickr.

Boonen, De Vlaeminck, Merckx, Museeuw, Moser, Kelly, Cancellara….some of cycling’s greatest names have graced this small corner of northern France close to the Belgian border.

It was Thursday 13th December 2012 and I had just finished a meeting in the town of Roubaix and felt compelled to take a small detour in the taxi to the famous Roubaix Velodrome, home to the finish of the Paris-Roubaix race.

The visit was rather surreal and the velodrome almost had a spooky feel to it. This was a cold, grey day in December and I was alone on this iconic piece of concrete, with only a few minutes to take some pictures before heading off to another business meeting. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be here on the first Sunday in April, watching cycling’s hardmen finish the “Hell of the North” and the hardest of them all, finishing first with his arms aloft in celebration.

After letting my imagine run wild for a few moments, I turned and got back in my waiting taxi and headed off to the next set of offices.  At least now, when I watch the race I can say that I have stood on that hollowed piece of concrete that some of cycling’s greats have also been on.

One day I will return, hopefully to see the end of the race and maybe even have the chance to bring my bike and ride around the track.