Cycling at the Manchester Velodrome

Jo at Velodrome

I had an email from my friend Sara. Are you interested in a free taster session at the Velodrome?

Wow I jumped at the chance! I arrived there before time (if you know me, shocking I know) and signed in and collected my shoes and helmet.

There was a group of women in business, 16 including myself, who were having this session together.

Manchester Velodrome

The group gathered and we were told to collect our bikes as they were all ready and labelled for each of us in relation to our height. We brought them up to the waiting area and hung them on hooks.

Forms signed and details given we were told what to do and what NOT to do. We lined up around the side of the circuit and were showed how to use the cleats on the shoes. I’ve always been very nervous about using them so it was good to get this experience in a ‘safe’ environment. More worryingly, the bikes only had 1 gear (fixed gear) and there were no brakes! Hence the worried face above! As it’s fixed gear, if you stop pedalling then you would crash your bike. You can not free wheel. There were big signs saying KEEP PEDALLING to remind people to do this.

Jo at Velodrome

People who know me, know I’m quite risky but it did worry me having secondary breast cancer and having a portacath in my chest as he then said what to do if you fall off. Should I really be doing it? I certainly didn’t want to risk hurting myself or have yet another hosptial visit (have enough of those) Ah well, in for a penny…

So we line up against the barrier, cleats engaged and both feet in and wait 2 seconds before the person in front has gone and off you go. The one thing what worried me as an ‘experienced’ cyclist was other people on the tract and random movements into my line of cycling. So I guessed the best way to go about this was to cycle fast and keep up on the incline that you see experienced riders go round! All good I set off at speed and was able to get onto the wooden part of the circuit straight away. Using the bikes you don’t actually turn the handle bars which seemed quite odd but you basically dip your left shoulder down slightly and momentum moved you to the left. Jo looking happier at velodromeThe reason is that the pedals actually go over the wheel so if you were to ‘steer’ your feet would hit the wheel. Great. A lot to take in but it felt pretty easy once you were doing it. Faster at the black line before the bend hits and slow down a little on the straight. This is to keep the speed up in the bend and that momentum and movement keeps you up if you are higher up the wall. We stopped after a few circuits to practice stopping (overshoot is very easy!) and then carried on again once we felt comfortable doing so.

The last photo gives you more of an idea of the incline of where you are cycling but to be honest reality when you are looking over the edge in the viewing area after cycling (which is when I took these photos) is pretty vertical! These photos definitely don’t give the perspective of how steep it is.

Velodrome inclineAll in all it was a fantastic experience, the wind through your hair if you are cycling fast and then getting up and just over the blue line was an achievement I really didn’t think I would do!

I think everyone had a really good experience and not one of us fell off which was a good result!

After the cycling we met in a small conference room where Yvonne Harding the CEO of Greater Sports talked through why we were invited and about a new initiative called Greater Manchester Moving #GMMoving.

This is the current initiative that is ongoing around exercise for the workplace and for individuals but this is about personal health, not just someone in the workplace. The health benefits for us all and the possible reduction in many types of cancer is huge if we are fitter and leading a healthier lifestyle. Cycling at VelodromeFor infographic information about cancer and why exercise and leading a healthier lifestyle is a good idea see

This is what Yvonne had to say:-
“The workplace Challenge 8 week challenge is now live (you can backdate your hours) and can be used as a focus for workplaces to encourage staff to be active as part of a new year’s health drive that so many people start at this time of year. If colleagues can have conversations, banter and perhaps some joint effort to sustain activity, employers can benefit from employees who feel more alert and healthier. Each individual records their activity and points are awarded for activity based on intensity and duration. GreaterSport will be offering spot prizes for people registering activity across the challenge, as well as for individuals and organisations doing the most activity and saving the most CO2 through active travel.”

Velodrome slope

It would be fantastic to have you and your organisations on board and its completely free! Sign up here. There is also an app people can download once your registered. Feel free also to share with any suppliers or partner organisations, this is a national challenge, we are running the Greater Manchester element!

British Cycling also have an initiative for women in cycling called Breeze so have a look at that. There are groups all over the UK that you can join.

For anyone wishing to find out more about the work for our Charity to Change Lives Through Sport have a look at this link.

Transport for Greater Manchester also run FREE adult cycling courses even with bike maintenance courses and you will find the details here.

Velodrome team shot

It was a great networking event, opportunity to cycle at the velodrome and lovely to meet all the ladies. Hope our cycling paths cross in the not too distant future!

Jo x Please share the blog with others to make them aware about the challenge activities!