My experience at the Manchester velodrome

A team pursuit team of three cyclists cycling around the wooden velodrome.

Before the Olympics I don’t think I had ever even seen a velodrome. Let alone cycle on one, therefore this year I decided it was time to try one out.

I went to my nearest one which is Manchester. but there are others in Glasgow, Newport, London and the recently opened Derby Velodrome.

I went along to the starter session where complete novices can go on.  I paid for a one hour session, bike hire and cycle shoes.  The instructor tells you the rules at the beginning such as to keep peddling and not taking drinks near the boards. Then you cycle around the blue part ‘Cote D’Azure’ and gradually go up the banking depending on your skill and bravery!

My first session was completely booked which I reckon owes more to the legacy of the Olympics. What I did not appreciate until I rode the track was you have to be constantly going at a fast pace to be able to go round the corners therefore if you are not used to it you are knackered after an hour.

Also without the brakes on the bike you have to be able to stop using your legs which I did not know being a complete beginner! Additionally I struggled with clipping my bike shoes in and out as I am not used to using clipless shoes.

I enjoyed my session.  An hour for me was enough and I felt that I had a good workout.  I was nervous about the bends of the track therefore I chickened out of moving up passed the red line. What I did enjoy was that you could cycle on a smooth track and not have to contend with pot holes and worn roads. I didn’t realise how used I was to be cycling through and around pot holes!

I went to the velodrome for the second time a few months later.  By then I had been going to my local outdoor track every week.  I was lucky this time round because we managed to get a Sunday session as another group had cancelled.  Therefore it was myself, my partner and another person there.

My cycling had improved considerably from the first time on the track.  I easily cycled above the black line and didn’t fear cycling around the bends any more.  It was almost a disappointment that I conquered my fear so soon! It was nice not to have so many people around me so I wasn’t worried about people over or under taking me!

As a bonus whilst I was at the track I spotted female Boardman road bike for sale on the noticeboard. A few weeks later the Boardman was dismantled in my car on its way to my home. I am very pleased with the bike and the price I paid for it.

Cycling sessions at the velodrome are so popular that there is a six month waiting list for beginner sessions so I will not be going anytime soon.

Want to have a try? Book here.


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