All set for fun and games at the Derby velodrome….. oh no we’re not…. oh yes we are, only it turns out it was Manchester Velodrome. Fortunately Sharrin realised her mistake at the 11th hour and was able to round up the troops before they’d all set off for Derby. The only casualty of the fracas was Alan, who decided against attending.
The lead contingent consisting of Sharrin, Stephen, Mathew and Pugwash arrived in plenty of time. Thankfully there was a café next to reception where Mathew and Pugwash were able to get a bite to eat to top up the reserves. Next up was our first look inside the velodrome. By this time the second party arrived consisting of Jonathon, Matt, Russ and Andy.
Furnished our with shoes and kitted out in our Knights gear it was time to collect a bike and head for the track. Only two of our party had previous experience of the velodrome, so there was a lot of trepidation at the start, especially looking at the steepness of the banking on turns three and four. Following a safety and information briefing from track manager Bob, it was off to gain some experience and confidence riding around the track and the art of stopping without brakes. As the speed built up at each lap we moved onto the “Cote d’Azure” strip then onto the black racing line, then up to the red line and finally the blue line. Russ was unlucky that he was unable to continue due to problems with his eyesight but still managed to provide excellent photography services.
Next up, it was time to practice the “through and off”. It actually looked like we knew what we were doing. Once we’d all had a couple of turns on the front it was time to replenish fluids. The velodrome atmosphere was really warm and combined with the riding efforts saw sweat running freely.
The next session was the standing start timed lap. Setting off individually to complete one lap as fast as possible. Kudos go to Matt with 20.77 sec equating to an average 43.4 kph.
Next in line was a new session, which although doesn’t have an official title has come to be known as the “Peal and Squeal”. The lead rider, on hearing a whistle would increase speed creating a gap off the front then on the 2nd whistle pull off to allowed the following train to pull through. There was some confusion occasionally with this “game” but we were managing to get the hang of it as the time progressed.
Our final session was a 20 lap scratch race. For the early laps the lead man pealed off every half lap until the final three laps where it was everyman for him/herself. First across the line being the winner. I believe kudos go again to Matt.
A superb time was had by all taking part and any early doubts or fears about riding fixed wheel without brakes around the steep banking were firmly set to the back of the mind.