Velo Venture | Eclectic Cake: Velo Venture

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Velo Venture

I was hustled! The bike I’d been strapped to had no brakes or gears and I was facing a 400m time trial against an Olympic sprinter, an Ironman and a couple of bike geeks – I didn’t fancy my chances of winning the TT. So instead, I thought it best to focus on just not smashing myself on the incredibly steep Olympic velodrome track.

Of course it was going to be sloped, I’d watched the track heroes of London 2012 whizz round it on TV, but in real life parts of it looked almost vertical and high, too! I fully expected to attempt the incline, tumble straight back down (feet still attached to the bike) and land on my face. Our coach, however, was convinced otherwise and sent us off for a few test laps.

As with most things, we started at the bottom and worked our way up. The first lap was on the flat to get used to the track and the idea that if your feet stopped moving, so did the bike (you break by resisting the pedals to slow down, then madly grabbing the side as you come to a stop so you don't face-plant). With each lap, I graduated further up the bowl, focusing my efforts on my left leg as I went round each steep corner. By the time I reached the top, I seemed to have got the hang of it. Fear was no longer my driving force, instead, as the wind created by my speed was battering my face, it was sheer exhilaration.

As predicted, my legs screamed round the 400m time trial only to come last. But I was still intact, I’d not fallen over and I was desperate for more, if only to try and knock a few milliseconds off my time.

I did indeed get more but in the form of road cycling. The Lee Valley VeloPark now includes a mile-long road circuit that offers long straights, corners, lumps and bumps completely traffic (and pothole) free – perfect for speeding around or for beginners to learn their handlebars from their sprockets. I definitely fall into the later category and after an hour in the velodrome with no gears or brakes, the road bike felt quite complicated. Luckily, I could completely focus on flicking through all the gears without the worry of being flattened by a car or even by other cyclists as the circuit is quite wide. Practise makes perfect, they say and this is the perfect environment to gain some confidence on two wheels. 

To see how the other cyclists got on, have a look at the Spogo Does blog.

If you think you're brave enough for track cycling or fancy flying round the road circuit, you can book a session here. We hired all our kit including bikes.

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