As Lent term drew to a close, 14 intrepid CUCC adventurers wobbled onto to the boards at Lee Valley Velodrome in London, many for the their first time. After a seamless train journey, we arrived in plenty of time to watch the riders in the session before us riding around the track, and to check out the bankings which reach an impressive 42 degrees!
Now it was time to don the lycra and walk down the Corridor of Champions to collect our noble steeds, the hire bikes. We also had to restrain Tom and Arnav from jumping onto the mini pump-track that was set up in the track centre.
Whilst Arnav, Tom and Jess (who have ridden track before) had a great time diving up and down the track and generally messing around, the nine beginners had a pep-talk from our lovely coach, Ricky. After a bit of time rolling around the Côte D’Azur to get used the to fixed gears, they were all up on to the boars and within half an hour, everyone was riding up around the blue line (half way up the track)!
It is almost inevitable when riding on the track for the first time that you will momentarily forget to pedal, but of course the gear will keep going and so you’ll get thrown forward. If you’re unlucky this will result in a trip over the handlebars, otherwise you just get a small heart-stopping moment which is enough to stop you from doing the same ever again. Thankfully no-one took a trip over the handlebars in this session, however Rob came closest with his rear wheel hopping a good half-metre – kudos for holding that one up Rob!
After some through-and-off drills that inevitably got gradually faster and faster, we were split into three teams to end with a small team-pursuit competition. The race was eight laps and the time was taken from the last person to cross the line. Team One, comprising Tom, Luke, Matt and Rachel, came third. Team Three, comprising Rob, Ben, John and Jess came second, and the clear winners were Team Two, comprising Holly, Becca, Arnav, Toby and Johnny.
All in all, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the trip and are all keen to go back for more – even those who said “it’s just going round in circles, innit” (most notably, a certain Yorkshireman).
CUCC’s next trip to Lee Valley will be at the end of the Easter term for those that are gunning for BUCS Track. Until then, don’t forget to pedal!