VC Bristol and the Newport Velodrome experience

Report by Phil Davies

It had been talked about for a while and interest now was getting near fever pitch, VC Bristol was going to hit Newport Velodrome in a big way to experience, the thrills of the indoor track and fixed wheel cycling with no brakes!

30th December was the first available date and everyone was happy, but we did have a couple of months to wait. With the humorous banter on the VC facebook page and numerous conversations at Webbs of Warmley the time flew by, Christmas seemed to come and go and before we knew it we were all heading over to Newport.

This banter had now turned into serious questions about “how steep is the banking”, “will I slip in the corners”, “what is it like riding a bike without brakes” – all these questions and more were about to be answered.

On arrival, hire bikes were collected, everyone changed into their club kit and then we all gathered in the track centre ready for our briefing. Chris Davis was coaching the session and with the mixed abilities and talents of riders was going to have a very busy and probably exhausting time – to control the Chris Hoy, Laura Trott wannabes and new to track riders safely can’t be easy?

Chris split us into 2 groups, those who had ridden the track before and those who had not. First up on to the track were the more experienced track riders, after a safety briefing and explanation as to what we were going to do we were off. Riding the blue line and changing on the front every lap or so for our warm up the pace was nice and steady, we kept this up for a good 10-15 minutes and all the while Chris was keeping his eye on us. As we came round the next time Chris asked us to “up” the pace and change from the front to rear of the group every half lap, this was now turning from a warm up to an exercise and all of a sudden in less than 3 laps the pace was quite hot. Beads of sweat were now starting to appear on the brows of many, the close group formation was holding well and speeds were increasing lap on lap – somebody had to blow soon. Charley was next on the front and the pace was stepped up another level – no slouch is our Charley when on the track and our lovely formation was slowly bring ripped to pieces. This was now a “full on” hard session and riders were pulling out every half lap and within a few more we were all done, Chris blew the whistle to advise riders the exercise was over and for us to make our way off the track. Pulling into the track centre and once everyone had recovered, the smiles starting appearing and the whole crazy experience was the topic of great conversation!

Next up were “new to track” riders and those who had a only done a small amount of track cycling, Chris gave a briefing and explanation as to the exercise and then off we went. I led the group out as everybody was going to be following myself around different parts of the track, the point in this was to let the riders experience riding high on the banking close to the barriers and moving across the track in different areas. Well what can I say apart from ‘fabulous’, once everyone was on my wheel the whole exercise went superbly and all rode fantastic.

We rode from the black to the blue, to the red, to the blue and then all the way to the top skimming the barriers all the way round, everyone stayed on the wheels and I’m sure we looked like members of the 2012 Olympic squad in training!! The time flew by during all this fun and before we knew it Chris was calling us back down for a rest, the smiles were unbelievable and all those doubts of riding high on the banking were gone in a flash.

The whole evening was flying by now with the 2 groups taking it in turns to complete different exercises Chris was setting them, all riders were getting a good workout and also gaining valuable experience at the same time. The track centre was alive with giggles, banter and fast talking conversations about riding on the boards, track bikes and everything velodrome orientated – Fun was being had by all.

Being quite a regular to the velodrome, one thing which was really nice to see and something which is not very common on my visits was everyone in their club jerseys, to have all the riders wearing the VC Bristol kit was fabulous. A constant blur of white circled the track all night.

Looks like the next trip to Newport will be high on the agenda of things to organise and I’m sure everyone will be there just itching to have another go. A very big “Thank you” goes out to Chris for coaching the session and keeping us all under control and also to Ron Bradley for helping along the way – Thanks again chaps.

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