Walking through the doors of the Emirates Arena in the east end of Glasgow, I have to pinch myself that I’m about to walk out onto the boards of Scotland’s first indoor velodrome. While I don’t have my riding kit with me, just being here is enough to have the little kid inside me jumping up and down with excitement. Until now, track riding in
Scotland has required the patience of a saint and the meteorological fortitude of Ian Macaskill. A legacy of the 1970 Commonwealth Games, the outdoor velodrome at Meadowbank in Edinburgh has served Scottish Cycling well but the vagaries of the traditional Scottish summer have seen Scotland’s best and brightest desert it for Manchester and beyond. Riding the boards is an exhilarating and addictive experience but add in rain stopping play and it becomes a tough sell to both novices and elite racers alike. Fast forward to 2012 and with Glasgow the host city for the next Commonwealth Games in 2014, the ante has been well and truly upped and a genuinely world class facility has been created.
With the success of Team GB still fresh in the minds of everyone who watched the London Olympics, whereas the London Velopark is still to be opened to the public, Glasgow is living up to its commitment of delivering a genuine legacy and stolen a march on London by opening up the Velodrome almost two years prior to the Games themselves. For anyone wanting to get on a track, whether they are an eight year old boy or girl who has been inspired by watching the likes of Trott, Kenny, Wiggo, Armistead or the Guv’nor, Sir Chris Hoy, to the seasoned track rider, the message is simple. The velodrome is open for business and wants you to be riding the boards.
Gathered with the assembled press pack, we were ushered through the box fresh new central atrium area past the rows of pristine lockers and without ceremony or introduction, we found ourselves trackside. It was here the cycling journos (ok, just me then!) could be discerned from the regular press pack. While others shuffled furtively with cameras and sound recording equipment, I found myself immediately drawn to a fairly plain, almost non-descript track bike resting at the side of the track. Plain black carbon, Mavic wheels, deep drop carbon track bars – the temptation to take it for a spin was almost overwhelming though catching sight of the discreet Union Jack flag and C Hoy decal on the top tube, I decided discretion was indeed the better part of valour and chose to snap a few pics of the product of Team GB’s finest secret squirrel brains instead. So this was the bike that the French seemed to think had extra round wheels eh? Zut alors!
With the Guv’nor’s arrival imminent, I took a quick wander round the track. At one end, I found the ubiquitous supply of Henry Ford special black Dolan track bikes glistening away in that just built and ready for their first outing kind of way while elsewhere a pair of red and blue Derny’s (the white one must be in the shop) rested against the glass wall that separates the track from the pit area. High above, the exposed pipe and ducting of the temperature control system can be seen, ready to be adjusted with finite precision to help contribute to what the Guv’nor would later refer to as being a very fast track.
With a flurry of activity and the tell-tale snapping of SLRs the Guv’nor appeared in full Team Sky outfit. If you think his thighs are big on the TV, try standing a couple of feet away and try not to stare! Laughing and joking with the assembled journos, it was fascinating to watch him work the crowd. Being arguably the greatest British Olympian clearly earns you a healthy level of respect and as he spun round the track at an easy pace for the expectant snappers for the desired Guv’nor on the boards shot and gave a series of radio and TV interviews, his quiet charm and self-effacing persona came through. Will you ride in 2014? What are your thoughts about the new track being named after you? Who will win Sports Personality of the Year? All were dealt with in the same personable and accommodating manner. They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes but judging by this performance, I doubt there would be any cycling fan who meets him that doesn’t come away with a very positive impression. Naming the velodrome as the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome would still have been a very smart move even without the long list of titles that he brings.
Meeting the Guv’nor in the flesh was great but what you, the reader, really want to know is “How can I get track time?” Courtesy of the friendly face of the velodrome, Rebecca at Glasgow Life (the organisation responsible for operating the velodrome), you can book yourself onto taster sessions, accreditation sessions etc. by first registering through the following link.
You can find full details by logging onto
The velodrome will then contact you with regards to confirming session times. In terms of costs, the pricing structure is something of a bargain. An hour long drop in session which will include bike, helmet and shoe hire is only £10 for an adult and £7 for a junior. If you already hold track accreditation status, you can enter the Scottish Track Cycling and Thunder Drome Event from the 26th to the 28th of October 2012 or log onto www.britishcycling.org.uk/scotland where you can purchase tickets as a spectator and may even get to meet the Guv’nor in person (just remember not to stare at his thighs too long!). If you were one of the lucky ones to have gotten tickets for the World Cup track event on Friday 16th to Sunday 18th November, you’ll get to see Team GB’s finest pit themselves against the rest of the world.
Alternatively, Scottish Cycling are holding a series of four regional road shows which are focused on undertaking a business and governance review on how cycling as a sport is run in Scotland and are keen to hear from anyone who has an interest in cycling and for their voices to be heard and counted. The road shows started in Edinburgh on Thursday 4th October and culminates on Tuesday 23rd October at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome so are an easy option if you wish to come down and see the velodrome for yourself and the not inconsiderable facilities on offer in the rest of the Emirates Arena.
If you build it, they will come. I’ve got news for you; they’ve built it so you’d better get yourself down there as there are an awful lot of riders out there who have been waiting a very long time for this day. Just be sure you get behind me and my curiously familiar carbon fibre superbike in the queue! And if the Guv’nor asks, you never saw me.