Published 11 December 2013
Report: Oisin Sands
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If you’ve ever wondered how a cat feels when you tease it by swinging a cork on a string in circles above its head – and let’s be honest, who hasn’t thought about that - try sitting track centre in a velodrome while a peloton of shaven-legged whippets zip past you in an endless loop of blurry Lycra.
Exhilarated, exhausted and mildly hypnotised is how I’d describe my state a couple of weeks ago, when I had the pleasure of visiting Manchester velodrome to watch round three of the Revolution Series of track racing. I was there together with my fellow bloggers courtesy of British Cycling, and with passes that allowed us to roam at will around the centre of the track we were within poking distance of some of this country’s greatest track cycling talents, including national and Olympic champions like Laura Trott, Pete Kennaugh, Dani King and Alex Dowsett.
The highlight of the night in racing terms was witnessing a new world record in the 1km Madison TT, set by Ed Clancy and Ollie Wood of Rapha Condor JLT – a team that of course holds a special place in our hearts as the home of our adopted cyclist Felix English. (Unfortunately, Felix couldn’t be there as he is training and racing in sunny Australia at the moment – that is, when he can spare time from creating arty film shorts on Instagram.)
There was further drama in the women’s scratch race when a loud crash on the far side of the track from us signaled the end of Laura Trott’s night; a clash of wheels sending her tumbling out of the race. Thankfully Laura had recovered enough to hold an autograph session later in the evening.
The next day we all met up again for a chilly morning spin on the outskirts of Manchester. Typically I’d turned up without cycling shoes so was riding in trainers. I’d been slightly concerned about this, to the point where I considered asking the hotel reception for sellotape so I could bodge myself some toe straps. However, I decided I’d pushed my luck enough by wheeling an oily bike into my bedroom – and, as it turned out, the sellotape straps weren’t needed.
We set off from Wilmslow, taking in quiet country roads through Tatton Park and Knutsford before a café stop in Alderley Edge where, through chattering teeth, we discussed our cycling plans for the year ahead. My first sportive of the year – the Puncheur, in March – is still some time away, so my current focus is, theoretically at least, on training for that and a series of events to follow throughout the year. I’ve been lacking in discipline so far though, so it may be time to turn to British Cycling’s training programmes to provide a little structure to my weeks in the lead up to events.
I’ll report back with news of any progress. In the meantime, if you’re in need of inspiration or just fancy a good night out, you could do a lot worse than a trip to your friendly local velodrome. The Revolution Series continues with the next round taking place in Manchester on 1st February. It beats a night in tormenting your cat - trust me!
Tune in again on Wednesday 19th Feb for my next blog.....