By Josh Cole-Hossain
At 7.00 on the 27th January, many eager and excited VCL club members took their bikes apart and loaded them into a trailer taking them to the recently finished Olympic velodrome. The bikes were driven, but the riders seemed to take every form of London transport to get to the Olympic site and once we did get there, there were even some airport-type security checks.
But finally we were on the mini-bus taking us around the site with ad-hoc tour commentary by trip organiser, Peter Cattermole. Unfortunately, we had to split up into 2 groups to ride the track. While the first group went off to ride, the second stayed in the builders’ canteen. Another minor disappointment was that no photos were to be taken inside the velodrome. However, there was a team of cameramen there who took many pictures of both groups.
But we soon forgot about cameras once we got on the track. With every rider in full club kit, it must have been quite a sight seeing the VCL string swooping around the absolutely stunning arena. Not only is the track, of course, pristine, but the lighting and climate are perfect for riding. John Scripps and Rob Mortlock made sure that everyone got around safely (well, nearly everyone) and, although there were very strict rules about how we could use the track, we all felt by the end that we’d had a really good ride. Wow!
The London Velodrome is the 53rd(!) built by former pro-cyclist Ron Webb (who is now retiring) and who’s other projects include Seoul, Athens and Sydney velodromes. The track itself was called ‘awesome’ by 15 year old Emily Kay and ‘the fastest track ever’ by other testers. Having had a decent ride around, I have to agree that it is the smoothest and the fastest track I’ve ever ridden and I’m excited that there is now a ‘local’ indoor velodrome for the kids and adults of VCL and other South-East clubs.
The team of builders (ISG) gave us 20 ‘goodie bags’ filled with a mug, calendar, badge and a piece of wood from the timber that made the track. Of course these were meant for the kids but some of the adults were quick to jump at the spares. Everyone went back feeling honoured and treasuring the time they had on the track, many wishing for another go in the near future. Thank you, Peter Cattermole, for arranging for this amazing opportunity and experience.