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Cycling at The Velodrome

Mar 14, 2008
Cycling is having a tough time of it at the moment. The world seems to be against everything to do with cycling, except the part that helps save the planet.

Motorists hate cyclists as they claim they slow the traffic down and take up too much of the road, for which the cyclist pays no tax for the up keep (although a cyclist would have to go some to create half as much damage to the roads as a car) as well as this it appears that probably the greatest annual cycling event, The Tour de France, is riddled with drugs cheats.

The sport's governing body appears to be getting to grips with the cheats but maybe it's too little too late, only time will tell.

I used to race bikes in my earlier years and I loved it. Unfortunately I gave up racing competitively back in my 20's due to work and family commitments but I always longed to get back into the sport.

Every year I holiday in Italy which as you may know is full of cyclists as well as the Giro d'Italia, probably the world's second most famous bike race.

Each year I see the Lycra clad cyclist's out training in the warm summer sun equipped with all the latest gear longing to be back on my bike, it's like seeing an old girlfriend for whom you still have feelings for out with her latest beau...

So imagine my joy when my youngest son got the opportunity to race with his school at the local Velodrome, I could actually get close up and involved in cycling again.

We arrived at the Velodrome in plenty of time to take in the atmosphere, it isn't that big but it's pretty impressive with its steep banking and sleek corners. I fell in love with it there and then; I had to have a go.

So it was with great excitement that I booked myself on a taster session the following Sunday. Included in the fee was bike and safety helmet hire so all I had to do was get myself some cycling shoes, although you can use trainers as the bikes have toe straps, and some clothing.

Sunday was soon here and the anticipation was fantastic. I arrived early to ensure I got a nice bike, and more importantly one that fitted me.

I needn't have been too worried the Velodrome has a good selection of bikes of all sizes. I got kitted up and away I went.

It was amazing! Flying down the wooded boarded track and into the corners you could feel the g - force holding you to the turn.

The hour that I was booked on for went by in a flash. I was like a kid at Christmas; my poor girlfriend had to listen to the same stories over and over again.

For those of you not familiar with track cycling the bicycle that you use has what is known as a fixed gear which means as you peddle the back wheel is turned but unlike a standard bicycle where if you chose to stop peddling you can free wheel a track bike chain is fixed directly to the back wheel meaning if the back wheel is going round so are your legs.

There is no free-wheeling on the track, its hard work all the way round. I've really caught the cycling bug again, my son and I go out for rides each Saturday now, I ride at the Velodrome every Sunday and my son rides there during the school holidays.

If you're looking for a sport to get into that's very friendly and is open to all levels of experience and fitness why not give track cycling a go. You don't have to put up with angry, frustrated motorists and it never rains indoors at the Velodrome.

By the way, my son won his first competition that he was entered into by his school, but he can't beat me, yet.
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Harwood E Woodpecker
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