So today, I have completed my first session on the Lee Valley Velodrome! The same track used in the 2012 Olympics, the same where so many of our sporting greats have created and broken records. It was surreal being in the middle of the track getting ready for my session, and taking in the 360 degree view which is the velodrome. Its a lot bigger inside than it looks on the outside, its a real Tardis effect. It shocked me at first how big the track actually is.
When it comes to riding on the track, first of all the bike you use is completely different to a normal conventional bike. The bike is super light, and usually is made of a lightweight metal like aluminium. The bike only has one gear, this sort of set up I am used too because my bike only has one gear so I anticipated that! Now this part scares people, they are brakeless. To slow down you put resistance on the brakes and you will feel yourself slowing down and then you grab the rail in the safety zone at the middle of the track to come to a complete stop. As your cleats will be clipped into the pedal its advised if you are going to go back on in short succession leave them clipped in, as its safer.
So when I got on the track, I led the first inaugural lap, on the blue part of the track, and then we gradually gone up the track from the black line, to the red and then to the top blue line. The best part was the 30 minute free style we had. Just free time riding and getting used to the track and finding our style. 30 Minute may not sound like a lot but gosh, I had to pause briefly twice to gain my breath as the atmospherics in the building were also very different, to preserve the track, which is something Ill get to on a later date when I know more about it! I started on the black and stayed there while the more experienced raced past. I learnt the communication needed when overtaking, shouting ‘stay’ when we pass to make sure the person in front knows to hold their line and not do move as they could crash into us if they are not careful. I hit the blue for a good five laps, I never anticipated how hard it would be to hold the blue line, the corners are so steep! It shocked me, you can’t get a good view on TV or pictures, when you are actually living it and on the track you see their full glory. You also need to keep your pace up and not slow down when you are on the top corner as you will literally slide down and crash, something I was told before we did it and I can now see why!
This was a truly amazing experience and I will be writing more about my future sessions and hopefully races!