Lee Valley Velodrome Taster Session

Date: 26th August 2015

Last Wednesday saw my long-awaited trip to the Olympic velodrome to cash in my birthday voucher for a taster session. I was both very nervous and excited beforehand – it was going to be brilliant cycling around such an iconic venue, home of Olympic heroics and Wiggo’s hour record. However, I was both a little stressed about getting there in time and about driving a fixed gear bike!

In the end I drove and parked at Westfield, only to find they had parking next to the velodrome. Oh well! We arrived in plenty of time and I had a coffee beforehand. Anna and Nicky sat in the stands whilst I went to get changed and go down to the centre of the track. After a little bit of toing and froing (eventually I decided to hire some cleats) I was given my track bike and was all ready to go. Everyone was in the same boat, a little worried about crashing without having brakes or a freewheel. Our instructor started us off slowly, doing a single lap on the warm-up area, then a couple of laps on the cote, progressing to multiple laps around the black line and red line. In our first multi-lap session I quickly got to grips with things, I had one minor wobble where the rider in front of me slowed unexpectedly and my reaction was to stop pedalling – luckily I remembered just in time! I also went a little too slowly around one of the bends but soon got the hang of the banking.

The only way to describe this session was AMAZING – I have not had so much fun in a long time! It quickly became apparent that I was faster than most and was soon happily overtaking people whilst riding above the blue line (shouting “stay” at every overtake). I lapped most of the field in the first multi-lap session, but this took a little out of me and in the second session I took it a little easier (I was still pretty quick though). It’s difficult to gauge exactly how fast I was going – in the video below I completed a lap in 25s which equates to 36km/h – it looks so slow on the video though! I did do some laps faster than that but I didn’t do any sprinting or anything, I wasn’t quite that confident!

The hour ended far too quickly and I had a huge grin on my face for the rest of the day. I’ll definitely be going back, hopefully I can save up and get my accreditation!

In this video I’m the one in second place, this was early on whilst we were still getting used to riding on the actual track.

RideLondon FreeCycle 2015

I didn’t get a place on the RideLondon 100 this year, so instead myself and Nicky went up to London the day before to take part in the FreeCycle. An 8 mile route around the centre of London is closed off to traffic and for 7 short hours the roads are owned by bikes!

We drove to Upminster and got the mainline train from there. I had been a bit worried about getting the bikes on the train – I had assumed they would be busy with others also trying to get their bikes on the train, but as it turned out there was plenty of room. From Fenchurch Street it was not far to get onto the route.

It was a fantastic day out and very enjoyable – Nicky did brilliantly, at his age I was barely out of stabilisers but he managed 30km and probably could have done more, he was a natural at picking his way through the crowds and only had one ‘off’ when he rubbed tyres with someone in front, but he got straight back on and carried on. I couldn’t be more proud! The festival sites around the route were also good, Nicky had a go at handcycling, and there were stunt bikes and other performances everywhere. Everyone had a smile on their face 🙂

I’ll upload some photos when I get a chance – there are some great ones on marathon-photos.com which I’ll buy at some point. I’ve applied for the sportive again next year but I’m sure we’ll do the FreeCycle again regardless as it was lots of fun!