Sunday, 6 April 2014

Lee Valley Velo Park - Track Cycling

Lee Valley Velo Park is open.. It opened to the public at the start of April 2014.. You can enjoy road cycling, BMX and mountain biking. However, I am going to concentrate on the track.  This 250m oval track was one of the stars of the 2012 Olympics so it's great to ride around that for a start -  let alone the thrill of track cycling anyway.. Here's how you go about it.

Currently a taster session will cost you £30 - that's for 1 hour and for that you get a tutor, a bike and a helmet. It's obviously not just you - there seems to be a 15 people per group limit.  You can book your session on their site - HERE. You will have to become a member - there is not current fee for that - once you are a member you can book other cycling sessions on BMX etc also..

After you arrive, check in at reception and they will give you a wrist band - lockers are free and the instructions for them are on the inside of the door. It's a short walk to the track after that - a walk that champions have made before - only less people will be watching your ride!  As a point, watching is free - you can bring friends or family and the can watch or take photos etc and do not have to pay.
The track bikes (above) are made by a London company - Condor. It's nice to see they are using local companies although they frames it seems are made in Italy. Remember track bikes have fixed wheels to the pedal action - they also have no gears nor brakes... They are very light weight! However, they will not stop in a hurry and this does take some getting used to.

If you have what I call "Keo Cleats" (above) they take your shoes as all bikes have these pedals fitted. They also have cages which fit to the pedals for normal trainers - if you do take trainers, my advice is to take small slim fit ones - not clunky running ones etc as they fir the cages easier and the strap has to be done up tight! You will also need riding gloves..
After some safety chat you will have a lap or two round the safe zone which is the light blue area - this has no angle, it just gets you used to the pedal action. Going up on the wood feels different and the very first section called "côte d'azur" feels very different and you can here it creaking in some places.
After more talking you are able to take on the bank as much as you are happy with... This is a weird feeling as you cannot ride slow and believe me you need a lot of effect if you intend riding up the top - however, coming down off the bank is fantastic fun!!

The Velodrome above > I took this just before a race meeting in March 2014. Some facts about the building..
"2,500 sections of steelwork were installed to form the Velodrome structure, rising in height by 12 metres from the shallowest point to the highest part of the structure. The cable-net roof lift took eight weeks to complete and features some 16km of cabling, covering an area of 12,000m2. The Velodrome is one of the most sustainable venues in the Olympic Park and the lightweight roof weighs roughly half that of any other covered Velodrome, helping create a highly-efficient building. The striking outer cladding of the venue uses 5,000m2 of Western Red Cedar timber." ( Source) .

After your time is up and you hand your bike back you will also receive and accreditation. This is level 1 of a 4 part course that if you complete, you will be able to take part in events and maybe join a club etc..  These details are a bit vague on the website as the park has only just opened but they sound like they are heading in the right direction. Overall I was really pleased with my time on the track - it gave me value for money as I included the bike.. If you own a track bike you can take it giving you a better deal (I think £10 off) .. Call them for details.

I hope this short blog gives you an idea of what to expect.. now, all you have to do is book it :)

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