Summer just wouldn’t be the same without the three week insight into Le Grande Boucle that David Duffield provides us with. Every day he can be heard on the television for up to 7 hours a day commentating for Eurosport on the Tour de France without a break. Very often he is assisted by either his nemesis Russell Williams or his hero Sean Kelly but he will always have more to say than his co-commentator and very often he says it at the wrong time. How many times have we shouted at the screen when David is hunting out obscure facts from the 1950s:
“Dave , the break! ”
“Dave , look , Pantani has blown!”
“Dave, fer chrisakes tell us what is going on.”
Only for David to tell us that “Aah , something is going on here….” which we guessed might have been the case already.
For those of you who have never come across David before, this might sound off-putting, but have you ever considered how difficult it is to commentate non stop for 7 hours whilst sitting in a windy gantry at the top of an Alpine mountain, trying to find the apple that was going to sustain you throughout the rest of the day which has just dropped on the floor and rolled under the desk of your German colleagues? No, I bet you hadn’t but these are the sort of things that David has to get through every time there is cycling on the television.
We are very lucky to have someone of David’s calibre entering into our homes bringing us the latest news from the peloton. Sure he gets it wrong from time to time but you get used to it and you admire the way he gets himself out a pickle in the same way Will Hay would always come out on top against heavily stacked odds. We need characters like David; motor racing has Murray, boxing had Harry , cricket had Johnners, football has Motty and thankfully cycling has Duffers.
With this in mind we would like to dedicate a small part of our Agreeable World to David Duffield.
“Hats off to you David!” or “Chapeaux” as you frequently say.
If you have got any more info on David we would love to add it to our list. Likewise we would like you to send us any Duffield speak that you hear on Eurosport.
A keen Taiwanese cyclist nicknamed the ‘Tainan Tony Stark’ fitted a jet engine to a custom built bicycle, took it for a test spin at 81mph(130km/h) down his local street, and received a visit from police after footage of him breaking every speed limit on the island spread on social media.
When Wang Nan was growing up he always dreamt of having his own jet engined model aeroplane, but never had the means of affording one. Fast forward to 2021 and Taiwan resident Wang went one better and made a jet engined bicycle that could actually be ridden.
Finding a bike that could accommodate the thrust of a jet engine was going to take some work so Wang got in touch with Taiwanese bike company RoxCycle, for a specialist carbon fibre frame that would be up to the job.
He then tapped into the expertise of local academic professors who came up with a solution that could handle the external forces a jet engine would place on a carbon bicycle frame.
The whole project took Wang and his team about three weeks to assemble, mainly because of upgrades needed to the braking system on the bike to ensure it could cope with the high jet powered speeds involved.
He also had to source upgraded tyres that could cope with the higher forces while providing grip when attempting to slow down from 80mph.
Wang’s team also faced issues with storing jet fuel on the bicycle. Regular sized tanks were deemed too heavy so the team went with a smaller 700ml bottle giving around 30 seconds of full jet propulsion which would be enough to get Wang up to 82mph.
Wang opted to test the jet powered bike himself wearing only regular aerodynamic lycra cycling attire, with the only nod towards safety equipment being a standard cycling helmet, which generally aren’t tested or approved for use in jet powered cycling accidents. Protection for Wang’s private area, should there have been a catastrophic accident on the road, was completely absent.
Opting to use a local residential street late at night, the jet powered bicycle shattered the peace in the genteel neighbourhood by emitting 133 decibels into the quiet night air as he embarked on his first test run while hitting 81mph(130km/h).
Footage of the high speed test-run subesquently went viral on Facebook with commenters calling Wang the “Tainan Tony Stark”, after the daring protagonist of the Ironman movies.
Taiwanese Police then visited Wang after viewing footage on social media, but initially struggled to find a law that had been broken, before settling on a small part of the Taiwanese Road Traffic Management Regulations and Penalty Act; namely article 72, paragraph 2:
Should a slow-moving vehicle be altered without permission, or its safety equipment such as brakes, bells, lights, or reflective devices not kept intact and in good condition, the vehicle’s owner shall be fined NT$180.
And if you’re wondering how much the fine for this daring feat of bravery is going to cost Wang, NT$180 works out to about $6.50USD or £4.71…
It’s all well and good having the best of the UK tracks and trails on our doorstep but sometimes we all start longing for a change of scene. If you’re you good at maintaining and fixing bikes and ready for a serious change of scene then a dream job could be awaiting you in the cycling paradise of the Spanish Canary Islands.
Club La Santa, the go to destination for cyclists, triathletes and fitness athletes the world over, are looking to recruit a cycle mechanic to support their clientele while at the resort. If you’ve had enough of the talk of UK lockdowns potentially returning, sitting in pub gardens never knowing if it’s going to be t-shirts or two coats and a brolly and you’re ready to take things up a gear, this could be the right position, at exactly the right time, for you.
If you’ve got experience in cycle mechanics or retail, and want to work surrounded by committed athletes, in a warm, sunny, cycling friendly environment (who wouldn’t??!) then read the spec below and check out the application process here . Although salary isn’t specified, it does say that subsidised accommodation is provided, and to be honest, I’m so keen to get out of the UK right now and ride somewhere a)warm, b)different and c)away from the local South London boy racers, that I think I’m going to apply myself on the strength of the Saturday job I had at London’s On Your Bike when I was a teenager and the way I can handle a 10mm socket set these days.
Anyway, if you’re more qualified or experienced than me, check out the spec below:
Club La Santa is the world’s largest active holiday paradise, built on exercise, health, sports, wellness, and plenty of social activities, in the warm climate of Lanzarote, Spain. The combination of excellent facilities, professional training and instruction from our dedicated Green Team not only gives our guests the opportunity to be immersed in 80 different sporting activities, but to also improve their performance and techniques in their desired sports. We want to provide our guests with the best active holiday experience in the world, built around sport, a healthy and active lifestyle and social activities. As well as providing a first-class service to our guests, you will also have the chance to experience the buzz of several annual events such as the IRONMAN Lanzarote and IRONMAN 70.3 Lanzarote, 4 Stage Mountain Bike, Volcano Triathlon & International Running Week.
If you are interested, this is a fantastic opportunity for an experienced bike mechanic to join the Green Team here at Club La Santa, Lanzarote. Working within the bike center team as a bike mechanic at Club La Santa you will be responsible for the daily maintains of our bikes, as well as deliver the very best experience to Club La Santa guests. The minimum period of employment for this job is 9 months, and we are always looking forward to receiving applications from interested applicants.
Cytech Level 2 qualification; City & Guilds Cycle maintenance; Graduation Certificate from Herningsholm College Denmark; or equivalent experience
Minimum 3 years’ experience working within the cycling retail environment
Work to uncompromising standards with the principle aim to always find solutions
Fluent in English
Exceptional customer service skills
Benefits Package Includes
Subsidised accommodation within Club La Santa resort
Full use of world class sporting facilities at Club La Santa
Spanish Residency allowing for discounted travel within the Canary Islands and mainland Spain
Ongoing training and Continuous Personal Development (CPD)
We’ve been overjoyed to see so many people out enjoying cycling during these uncertain times.
Whether its more key workers using the bike to commute while avoiding the risks of public transport, or families re-discovering the joys of cycling on quiet roads to get their daily exercise, the numbers of riders on UK roads definitely seems to have increased during the pandemic.
If you’ve been thinking about getting a bike and joining them, then read on, and welcome to the Bikesy guide to starting cycling during the lockdown…
What your bike needs to do…
When you’re starting out you generally want a bike that’s comfortable to ride, with a more upright leisurely position to give you the ability to look all around you easily in case you have to ride in traffic.
You want a bike that is robust enough to handle UK roads and potholes but not so heavy as to be hard work pedalling.
You want a bike that isn’t going to break the bank, but is still responsive and a pleasure to ride. If you’re just starting out, now is probably not the time to splash out on an extreme downhill racing mountain bike or Tour de France level road bike – a general bike that lets you enjoy travelling on it is perfect, and any future upgrades can be done at a later date when you have more experience in the area you want to move towards.
You want a bike that fits. This is really important.
You want a bike that is reliable, with somewhere to get help if it doesn’t feel quite right or if you want it checking over after a month or so. This probably discounts buying a second hand bike unless it is from a trusted friend who will be there later on if you have any questions.
Generally, the vast majority of our website visitors are experienced sports cyclists, so we can make recommendations to buy discounted exotic bargains from mail order bike shops from far flung reaches of the British Isles, but we recognise that isn’t the best advice for someone who needs a reliable set of wheels right now that meets the criteria above, so that means picking a good bike from a trusted high street outlet.
Best Beginner’s Bike Brands We Recommend in 2020…
Our preferred price point for a reliable commuter or leisure bike is a RRP of around £250 – £450.
You can get cheaper bikes than this but maintenance can be an issue further down the line. You can get more expensive bikes than this but they are overkill for local commuting and family rides – from the perspective of a beginner you can start getting into diminishing returns if you increase the budget drastically.
As a beginner, you also want a bike that isn’t going to take a lot of assembly on your part to get up and running, so we are looking primarily at retailers who have a current store presence, or who supply bikes by courier that are easily prepared for use.
Carrera Hybrid Bikes
Carrera are Halfords own brand, and probably the most popular range of bikes in the UK. You get good value for money, backed up with a high street presence in the unlikely event that you get a problem. Order online, make sure you select the option for them to assemble the bike for you, and then collect in your nearest store where you can make sure you’ve got everything you need and are happy with it. Currently Halfords are the only big nationwide high street retailer where you can collect a bike rather than have it shipped to you.
You’ll notice none of the bikes above have suspension forks. At this price, and for commuting, we don’t really recommend suspension – it adds extra weight, complexity and cost, for something you don’t really need for local journeys, but if you do want something a bit more rugged, check out the Carrera Mountain Bike range as well.
Pinnacle Hybrid Bikes
Pinnacle are Evans Cycles in-house brand of bikes, and if you’re lucky enough to have an Evans Cycles near you, they are currently open for collection and servicing so you don’t have to wait in for a courier or do any tweaking or bike fine tuning yourself – their staff can take care of all of it.
I’ve personally been using a Pinnacle Hybrid for the last 18 months and cannot fault it.
Calibre Mountain Bikes
Another firm favourite of ours are Calibre bikes – originally only available from Go Outdoors chains, more of the range is now appearing in Millets and Ultimate Outdoors as well. The Calibre Rail mountain bike is well made for the money, for someone who wants something a bit more rugged for both on road and off road use.
If you’re looking for something a bit faster and more sporty, while still offering all of the benefits of a hybrid over an out and out race style bike, then the Calibre Stitch is definitely worth a look. It’s at the higher end of our preferred budget, but the specification makes it an enticing prospect
CARRERA Mountain BIKES
If you love the look of the Carrera Hybrid bikes, but want something a little bit more rugged to take off road or in the local woods, then the range of Carrera Mountainbikes with their wide range of gears and grippy off road tyres will be more suitable. They are also a good option if you want a bike that is ready assembled but aren’t having any luck finding Carrera Hybrids in stock near you.
We love the Carrera Vengeance – with its suspension forks, 16 gears, disc brakes and lifetime warrantied frame, this is a lot of bike for the £325 RRP.
For anyone that loves the look of a sporty road bike, but still wants the freedom to venture off road on tracks and paths then the Voodoo Men’s Limba adventure bike ticks all of the boxes – A mix of a cyclocross and road bike, it can easily be ridden on road, towpath and farm tracks due to its nimble frame, disk brakes and 16 speed Shimano gears. With a RRP of £450 this is at the upper end of our recommended limit but you get an awful lot of multi-use bike for your money.
We’ve got to give recognition to the outstanding quality of Boardman Bikes at this point. They are a little over budget, generally starting at the £500 RRP mark, but if you can find one discounted, or if you don’t mind paying for the premium features that they come with, then they are definitely worth a look.
Other Stuff That Will Be Useful To Know…
If you’re commuting to work
Probably the hardest part of switching to cycling to work for many is finding a cycle friendly route that you really enjoy taking. Generally speaking I try to avoid busy main road in favour of quiet backstreets, but I’ll also look for routes with dedicated cycle lanes or shared use paths.
The first step to planning a cycle route is to use Google Maps – enter your start and end destination and choose ‘cycle’ as the mode of transport. Google will often show you cycle friendly routes first.
Secondly, I’d check Komoot to see if other people have uploaded a route with inside knowledge that Google isn’t aware of
If possible, it can also be a good idea if there is an experienced cyclist from your workplace or household who can do the initial rides with you. You never know what you can learn from following someone who is experienced.
Sometimes there are unavoidably uncomfortable sections of roads and junctions, unfortunately its part of the UK transport planning. This isn’t going to please the hardcore regular cyclists, but I off an walk anything I don’t feel safe on. Sometimes it’s dodgy junctions, other times it’s roundabouts where I don’t trust that all cars will do the right thing and stop. Get off, find a safe crossing point if you need to and walk across, or push on the pavement for a bit to get that part of the journey out of the way. It’s better to be safe than sorry. If there’s anything you don’t feel comfortable riding along, I’d advocate doing the same.
Also, I never go fast on my commute.
You never know who’s going to pull out, or open a car door, or run out from between parked cars. I never take chances, I don’t do a manoeuvre that leaves me hoping for the best, and I always assume the motorist approaching a junction up ahead hasn’t seen me, and ride accordingly until I can be convinced that they have. If you choose to ride the same way, it might add a couple of minutes onto your journey, but you’ll enjoy it more. It can sound daunting, but if you can choose a good traffic free route and ride accordingly then your commute to work can suddenly become a great too for improving your general fitness and mental health.
Unless you can bring your bike indoors with you to keep in an office, you’ll also need a lock. The reality of bike thefts is no lock is unbreakable – thieves use portable angle grinders that can cut through anything, a better lock just means it takes longer to cut through. Always lock your bike somewhere that will preferably discourage a thief from getting an angle grinder out, and get a lock that will take longer to cut through.
We generally recommend U-locks (or D-locks as they are also known) over cable locks.
My personal preference for locking my own bike is one U-lock for the rear wheel and frame, and a chain lock for the front wheel and frame, but you’ll want to weigh up the level of risk at your workplace. Remember, the convenience of having a bike with quick release wheels for you is also convenient for a thief who is going to steal an unlocked wheel. All bike shops tend to sell decent locks, so it’s probably easiest to order one at the same time that you order your bike. If not, click here to browse through a large selection of locks.
There are two types of insurance you might want – 3rd party insurance for you incase you cause an accident while out on your bike, and regular cycle insurance incase your bike gets stolen.
Neither are legally mandatory, but we would strongly recommend the former, and advise you get the latter if you are worried about your bike getting stolen.
3rd party insurance
In the unfortunale event that you cause an accident and have a pedestrian or car driver claim against you, you want to be covered. You may find your house insurance, or other insurance policies you have already cover you for this, but if not the easiest way of getting cover is to join one of the national cycling organisations and get their blanket coverage as a membership benefit. Popular ones include British Cycling, London Cycling Campaign, and my own favourite – Cycling UK. If you’re an NHS worker, both British Cycling and Cycling UK are doing special FREE three month promotions that you may want to take advantage of.
If you’re worried about your bike getting stolen, you’ll probably want to get it insured. There are plenty of companies offering general cycling insurance, and you may be able to add locking your bike at your place of work to your household contents quite easily, but if not then I quite like Yellow Jersey dedicated bike insurance – its simple and geared solely for the needs of cyclists.
Iconic British motorsports manufacturer has joined forces with Hope and British Cycling on their latest track bike which they hope will beat the world’s best at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Coming twenty eight years after Chris Boardman famously rode a revolutionary Lotus bike to gold medal in the Barcelona Olympic pursuit, these new Lotus bikes bring the same sense of radical design once again.
Featuring immediately noticeable super wide seat stays and forks that wouldn’t look out of place on a fat bike have surprised many by passing UCI approval.
Take a look at the video below. What do you think about this shift in design? Do you reckon it will transfer over to the road bike market? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page
This photo angle of the new bike below really highlights the shift in design ideas, where the previous notions of close ‘cigarette paper’ clearances are discarded in favour of huge gaps and aerofoil type structures
In order to get UCI approval for use in the Olympic Games the bikes have to be ridden in events in the lead up to the games. Luckily for us British fans we get an opportunity to see them in action on home ground for the first time at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Glasgow, on the weekend of 8-10 November.
Remember the success the original Lotus track bike from the 1992 Olympics was? Let’s hope Lotus and Hope have the same success in Tokyo
The Mountain of Hell event in takes place every year at the end of June in Les Deux Alpes giving riders from around the world an MTB derby that starts at the top of a mountain glacier, with 2500m descent over 25 bone shaking kilometres.
The route takes in snow, ice, shingle and rock, and every year the organisers change the route to add adrenaline and spice to the competition.
The final event is on Sunday is the highlight of the weekend. The riders set off in a massed start from the glacier at 3400m, and then it’s downhill in the snow to 900m – giving an incredible 2500m of altitude drop.
With 700 riders ready to hurtle down the mountain it’s like the starting blocks of the 24 hours of Le Mans and you’d be right in thinking there might be a few spills, but this is another level.
We’re glad to hear from friends on the ground that everyone is generally ok, which is something to be very thankful for given the severity and the speeds involved
. The event was eventually won by Frenchman Kilian Bron who was quoted in the French press as saying he reaches speeds of 125km/h which is a whopping 78mph, on the glacier.
Last year I remember, it was about 125 km / h on the glacier, there were 1000 people around me. You had to be in it, no choice. It is much anticipation and do not let yourself run on adrenaline, […] you have to reason, to do things intelligently to finish in front. “
You can watch his entire race winning awesome run here
If you want to get started in mountain biking we’d recommend getting hold of a Rockrider MTB or a Vitus MTB heading out to your local woods or bridleways to start out with. If you live in a hilly area and don’t like the idea of tiring climbs, take a look at electric mountain bikes from the likes of Specialized or Trek, or if you just want a good no nonsense MTB that is more than capable for anything then check out the range of Voodoo Bikes as well. As you gain more experience you can try out a long distance trail such as our favourite South Downs Way or venture out to trail centres in Wales to see how you get on in big mountains. If you find you have a real penchant for hurtling down mountains at high speed you can also enter the MegaAvalance or Mountain Of Hell yourself! Good luck!
Track cycling is one of the fastest growing disciplines in UK cycling right now and definitely accessible to all. We’ll take you through getting started on the track, getting kitted out, and how to progress to racing. You never know, with the fantastic British system in place, you might even make it to Team GB!
So What Exactly is Track Cycling?
Track cycling is the familiar term for riding on a velodrome, the oval shaped bowls made familiar during the Olympics.
A velodrome usually consists of two long straights and two steeply banked corners at either end to complete the circle. They are designed for speed and the banked corners are necessary for maintaining the speed of the bike as the rider negotiates the turns, allowing them to hold contact with as much of the surface as possible.
If you think about it, you can imagine riding a bike fast around a running track, but when you get to the turns, you would either have to brake hard to slow down, or lean your bike to impossible angles (much like motorbike riders when they put their knee to the ground). The velodrome’s steep banks permit you to maintain a fluid speed and realistic riding angle. And we all know, more speed equals more fun!
Such a specific arena requires a specific bike. Apart from at the occasional beginner sessions, a velodrome is ridden on a track bike. Fixed-wheel, no gears, no breaks and dropped handlebars, might sound a little scary but they really are the ideal (and safest) bike for the job. The bikes give you individual freedom to ride fast and find a rhythmic pace or bursts of speed, as well as the safety of riding in a group (or peloton) with the knowledge that nobody will suddenly touch their brakes and cause unexpected movements.
It’s still a niche discipline within the overall world of cycling as a whole and over the decades it has seen peaks and troughs of popularity. Right now, track cycling is entering a new wave of popularity, although it is still marginal compared to it’s heyday in the early 20th Century. The 2008 Olympics in China saw Team GB bring home eleven medals from the velodrome alone and nine medals on home soil in 2012 at the purpose built London Velopark.
Such success and euphoria put the spotlight on track cycling and saw a surge in revamped old tracks and fully booked beginner sessions. The infrastructure, community and resources surrounding track cycling in the UK is now at a professional and well-organised standard that is bringing the sport to the masses.
But simply having more people being aware that track cycling actually exists and is available to have a go is not a recipe for popularity. Let’s delve into why it has captured the imagination and hearts of so many new people in recent years.
Velodromes are an extremely safe, fun and controlled environment. There are no cars to worry about and every activity is conducted under supervision with a known set of rules. Imagine the freedom of riding your bike as fast as you can in a totally traffic-free arena! It’s special and you can feel like a child again, whizzing around and around on two-wheels. It’s extremely fun for adults and children alike, and as such there is a huge number of kids clubs nationwide.
There aren’t many (if any) tracks that you can just rock up to and start riding, most riding time is in designated sessions that are structured to specific groups and ability. So kids clubs will be full of games and lighthearted races, mind you, not that much different to adult sessions to be fair!
Beginners sessions will obviously be dedicated to teaching the basics, which once you’ve mastered you can move on to training and race sessions.
Training sessions focus as much on skills and etiquette as they do on fitness and women’s sessions are designed to break down the old-fashioned boys-club of cycling and cultivate friendships and involvement.
Race series are categorised into level and ability. So in a nutshell, what’s not to like? Fun, fast, safe, controlled and dedicated, track cycling is literally for anyone who enjoys the thrill of turning two wheels.
Despite certain universal traits (circular shaped with banked corners), velodromes actually come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on what you happen to have locally is likely to be what you ride first, but experiences of track riding can be vastly different.
Take Preston Park for example, it’s a huge outdoor velodrome near Brighton, the oldest in the UK (built in 1877) and barely even legitimate to call oval shaped to be honest. It’s tarmac banks are shallow and would feel nothing like riding indoors at Calshott Velodrome, the smallest and steepest in the UK, with a wooden surface. Riding at Preston Park would give you a huge sense of history, riding in an arena that used to attract 10,000 spectators in the 1950’s, compared with riding at the shiny new London Velopark, which has also seen it’s share of spectators in recent years with the 2012 Olympics, World championships, International 6-day and is where Bradley Wiggins set his Hour Record, and is kitted out with all the latest mod-cons.
Track enthusiasts, or “trackies” as they’re affectionately known, will travel to different tracks for races and learn to adapt in radically different environments. Certain tracks will suit certain people and call for a choice of gear selection and evolving race craft and technique to suit the specific track. As hinted at, not only does every track have it’s riding differences, it also has it’s own atmosphere, history and community. Where you fit in best may just be a matter of geography, or you may want to seek out a track that clicks with your riding style and sense of social belonging.
Indoor and outdoor tracks have their own blend of variety, too. Many tracks now, such as the Herne Hill Velodrome have been surfaced to be ridden in “all weathers”; so long as it’s not blowing a gale or pouring with heavy rain you can get a ride in (if you want to, well that’s a different matter!). Some tracks are even floodlit to allow evening riding throughout the winter months. Indoor tracks are temperature controlled and obviously, unaffected by the weather and tend to be a little more expensive to ride.
Use the map below to zoom in and find your nearest track
Your First Go On A Track
So, now you’ve decided that track riding sounds awesome and of course you want to give it a go, how can you get started yourself? Well, it’s easier and easier these days with the cycling world making a concerted push to welcome more members. Google is your friend, so have a nose around and find out which track is closest or most appealing to you. In general, there are certain things you can expect from the majority of tracks (although it is worth checking before you head on down).
How to ride your first track session 1) Find your nearest track from the map above 2) Find out when their introduction sessions are 3) Turn up with the required kit 4) Keep pedalling and keep checking over your shoulder. 5) Have fun!
Track cycling is it’s own art and has techniques and rules that you will not have experienced anywhere else in the cycling world, so you need to get to grips with these before being let loose in open sessions.
Taster sessions are the first port of call, even if you’re an experienced cyclists. Perhaps you already ride a fixed-wheel bike, but you need to be aware that past cycling experience although helpful, does not translate to immediately being able to leapfrog the learning sessions.
Most velodromes offer hire bikes, sometimes for a small fee on top of the session. Turn up early (or book on in advance if available) because sessions are hugely popular and you don’t want to be left disappointed before you even get a chance to ride!
Sometimes, you can bring your own track bike if it meets the requirements. Each track is different but usually you need to at least ensure you have removed any brakes, fitted dropped handlebars and removed any tri-bars, computers or bolt-ons.
If you are hiring you might want to bring your own pedals. You will be expected to be clipped in, so flat pedals are a no-go. But clipless or clips-and-straps are the standard. Most places don’t hire out shoes (this isn’t bowling!) so bring your own and matching pedals that you are comfortable with. If you don’t have any of your own, just bring some sensible trainers, make sure the laces are tied up and tucked away and you’ll be shown how to use clips-and-straps.
For taster sessions you don’t even need specific cycle clothing. I’ve seen many beginners riding in leggings or joggers, it’s less comfortable in my opinion but so long as your shoulders are covered and anything loose or flapping is secured you’ll be good to go.
Anyone can turn up. Truly anybody, from corporate days out, to kids, sportive riders and anything in-between, track cycling is truly inclusive. You don’t need to be a member of British Cycling or any governing body. Just you, your free-will and a love of cycling is enough for you to be welcomed on-board and get going.
Things to take to your first track session
1) Helmet 2) Jersey and base layer (two layers are recommended in many indoor velodromes 3) Cycling mitts if you have them 4) Cycling shoes if you have them 5) Pedals if you want to use your specific shoes
Follow Up Accreditation
After a taster session and you’ve most likely fallen in love, it is time to go on an induction course and get accredited. There are certain skills that you need to demonstrate that you’ve mastered before you can get a pass to join in with training and race sessions. So, lets have a look at what you will be learning.
As we’ve mentioned, track bikes are fixed wheel; this means you can Never.Stop.Pedalling.
You’ll be taught how to get started safely and ease your way onto the track either from the top or the bottom and from that moment, until you stop, you need to keep your legs turning. It’s very natural and easy but whilst you are learning, this truth will be drummed into you and reminded constantly until it becomes second nature. You control the speed of the bike with your pedalling, so you will be taught how to slow yourself down and come to a smooth, controlled stop at the edge of the track.
Whilst you are riding on the velodrome there is a strict etiquette for your safety and the safety of other riders. You will hear “hold your line” repeatedly and it means that you cannot just change your position on the track without checking it’s safe to do so. You’ll need to be able to look over your shoulder whilst riding and check what is happening behind you before you choose to leave a group or change your position. You will also be shown how to re-enter a group by moderating your speed and seamlessly joining in with the slipstream.
The most biggest importance underlying every skill taught in the accreditation process is safety. Track cycling is essentially safe when everyone knows what they are doing and playing by the rules. Much like being out on the streets, the danger comes when someone isn’t concentrating or makes sudden and unexpected movements. No matter how good you are at cycling already, it is essential that you learn the specific rules of the track before you are given the independence to join in with more advanced groups.
One of the greatest things about track riding is that it is guaranteed to make you a better bike rider in anything that you do. Your bike handling skills will improve exponentially and you will find that you develop a smoother pedalstroke on your road bike. The most adaptable road riders tend to be those who have experience riding on a velodrome too, the quick reactions and rider awareness skills you pick up will benefit you in any on-road situation. You will also become fitter with regular sessions and find that you are better able to throw out quick bursts of speed.
Once you are accredited and up to scratch with riding on a track (no pun intended – the trackies here will get it!) you can start going to training sessions at most tracks. The majority of training sessions are actually really fun and focus on warming up, practicing certain skills and lots of mini races. Weekend sessions are really popular and once you become a regular you’ll make a ton of friends and integrate yourself into the routine. Professional coaches lead the sessions and tend to keep things varied, controlled and of course, safe.
Ready To Race?
Track riding really is a race-oriented discipline, the point of it is to go fast, develop skills and use them in a competitive environment. So naturally, most people who stick the course and end up going to weekend training sessions will feel tempted to join in some racing.
You’re basically racing at every session anyway, so it is a natural progression for many to join a race league. How seriously you take this is totally up to you, but there is prize money up for grabs and clubs/teams start to congregate together and create tactics and tribes.
You don’t need to be part of a club to race (although you will need to pay for a race licence) but many people choose to affiliate themselves with the local track club. If you’re already part of a road club, that’s fine too, you can race in your club kit and your club affiliation should cover race insurance (although you should check first).
Racing is structured in local leagues, with a weekly meet-up giving you the chance to accumulate points throughout the season. There is no commitment that you have to turn up to race on any given day, it is totally up to you how much you want to join in. You can also find regional and national track meets (as race days are called) and get info about that from your local track as you build up.
Everyone has to start somewhere. We all know the big track names such as Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton but did you know that many of our GB road stars also harp back to earlier track racing days? Sir Bradley Wiggins grew up racing at Herne Hill Velodrome.
Whatever your ambition, to be the next Olympic gold medallist or simply to improve your cycling fitness and skill track cycling is open and accessible.
Want to find out more?
Check out this interview with British Cycling’s National Cycle Centre coach Peter Deary
Their name might be shocking, but the Stop Killing Cyclists campaign group certainly know how to capture attention.
The London based campaign group take their initiative from the Dutch movement of the 70s called ‘Stop de kindermoord’ (stop the child murder). It’s certainly a direct approach to campaigning but their peaceful protests get results that we all benefit from.
We heard that they were organising a “National Funeral for the Unknown Cyclist” and given the recent spate of tragic cycling accidents that have happened in London, we completely agree with their calls for the government to set aside £3Billion build a national protected cycle-lane network. That may sound a lot but bear in mind that the new East London car tunnel under the Thames in Silvertown will cost £1Bn to increase congestion in another part of London and you realise that spending £3Bn to get the UK more active will save fortunes in the long run with cleaner air and a more healthy population.
We set off for the meeting point at Holborn’s Lincolns Inn Fields and were amazed to see how many other cyclists had given up their Saturday afternoon to come out and make their voice heard.
The organisers had certainly pulled out all of the stops – at the front of the parade there was a horse drawn funeral carriage complete with a coffin. Following it was the loudest cycling sound system I’ve ever heard playing some sort of bagpipe lament.
The procession set off at a walking pace and we made our way down to the Embankment and on to Parliament.
The procession makes its way down the Embankment
£3Billion is not a lot of money when you realise the cost savings to the NHS from having a more active population.
The Pedal Me bike taxis and delivery service were out supporting. I hadn’t seen a cycle trailer as large as this before.
Seeing young kids on the ride made you realise how many roads in London aren’t safe for kids to safely use cycles on.
People had been creative with their signs. Some of them really made you stop and think.
Outside Parliament the procession stopped and every one laid in silence on the ground for ten minutes in the form of a ‘die-in’. In a city as busy as London it is a disarming sensation to witness so many bodies laying in the main roads. The quietness is noticeable as well, without the constant roar of traffic, and with hushed voices of those passing in respect to the funeral scene, you get to hear, well… peace and quiet. Which in London is rare.
We really want safe roads for kids like these to ride their bikes on.
The ride proceeded to St John’s Smith Square for a minutes silence, laying of flowers and then speeches.
The flower ceremony was carried out by family members of those lost to road accidents in London and needless to say was very moving.
It’s important to note that despite the somewhat macabre name of the campaign group, this is still very much a celebration of cycling. A celebration of the freedom that cycling gives us, a celebration of the health benefits we get from cycling and a celebration of the fact that cycling is the greenest and most eco-friendly way we can all travel.
Following the speeches which were very informative and moving, we went to the pub. All in all a very worthwhile afternoon spent on the bike in London.
It was interesting to see that the two times we could hear emergency vehicles trying to get by, how quickly cycles can clear the road. I don’t think the ambulance on the Embankment has ever been able to travel up it so quickly, nor the fire engine that was able to whizz between the parting cyclists.
With cycling reaching such giddy heights of popularly, it is hard to get a truly unique bike these days. High-end Specializeds, Treks, BMCs and Pinarello’s are commonplace on many club runs and chain gangs. Unless you go to a custom builder, the chances are you’ll find someone else with the same bike as you out on the road. But what if you could own a bike that was truly unique? And not only that but something with a heritage and class that other bikes simply don’t have?
We could talk for days about the aerodynamic properties of framesets, about lateral stiffness, about vibration dampening characteristics. We could even talk about all of these factors that when combined in the right amounts give a bike a soul of its own. But let’s cut to the chase here…
WE’VE FOUND ANDRÉ GREIPEL’S BIKE FOR SALE!
Yes, that André Greipel. The sprinter with 11 Tour de France stage wins under his belt. The holder of the Vuelta a España 2009 points jersey. The man who is simply known as ‘The Gorilla’.
If there was ever a rider who was fully reliant on having one of the best bikes in the world, it’s André.
Andre Greipel Ridley Fenix SL Lotto Soudal Ex-Team Road Bike
It comes with 11 speed Campagnolo Super Record EPS
All Team Issue
The Belgian pro-team Lotto Soudal have just made available a selection of their previous season’s team bikes. We’ve tracked them down and we can tell you, it isn’t just Greipel’s machine on offer…
WE’VE FOUND ADAM HANSEN’S FORMER RIDE AS WELL
What could be cooler than owning the team bike of one of the world’s most consistent pro riders out there? With twenty consecutive grand tour finishes under his belt, Adam is in a league of his own when it comes to distance riding.
Adam hansen’s Ridley Helium SLX Lotto Soudal Ex-Team Road Bike
And the best thing is that these bikes are priced at a level that many fans of the sport will find agreeable. Greipel’s machine is available for £3,275 which is ~$4,380 USD or ~$5,780 AUD, while Adam Hansen’s bike is available for £3,999 (~$5350 USD, ~$7060 AUD)
The machines themselves are being sold on behalf of the Lotto Soudal team through a UK cycle retailer and everything about them is literally team edition.
Based on the Ridley Fenix SL and Helium SLX framesets, these are bikes that you know can be ridden comfortably all day, day after day. With Lotto Soudal being a Campagnolo based team you can expect to find 11 Speed Super Record EPS throughout.
Team wheels often get held back by the team for re-use so Greipel’s bike comes with brand new Forza 4ZA wheels, designed and made in Flanders, as you’d expect for a top flight Belgian team, while Hansen’s bike comes with Campagno Zondas.
Not only have we found the bikes belonging to these two legends of the sport, we’ve also found a few more used by the team.
If you saw the Strade Bianche this year you’ll have been very impressed with the winner Tiesj Benoot. As a young rider he’s got plenty of potential to go onto massive success later in his career so the opportunity to get one of his team bikes this early on could make for a canny investment.
Tiesj Benoot Ridley Fenix SL Lotto Soudal Ex-Team Road Bike
Maybe you’d like the bike ridden by a winner of the Dwars door Vlaanderen, Jelle Wallays. Or one of two bikes from multiple Giro d’Italia stage winner, Tim Wellens – a Ridley Helium SL Custom or a Ridley Helium SLX, both equipped with Campagnolo Bora Ultra 50s.
Or how about former Belgian national road race champ and all round classics hardman Jens Debusschere’s Ridley Fenix SL
We’ve also found the team bikes of Marcel Sieberg, Sander Armée, Kris Boekmans, Nikolas Maes, Frederik Frison, Yelle Vanendert and Jasper De Buyst (These bikes have been sold but you can check out more Ridley road bike deals here.)
Whether you’re buying one of these bikes to race on, to ride on, or to even hang on your wall and keep as an investment, you’ll know you’re the proud owner of a piece of unique cycling history.
Its not often you get the chance to get your hands on a world record setting rider’s bike. Its even rarer when the rider in question is famous for making his own unique one-off creations that are known and revered throughout the cycling world
However, if you’re a fan of British cycling now is your chance to do just that and acquire some iconic parts of cycling history.
Former world champion and world hour record holder Graeme Obree is selling an extensive collection of kit and memorabilia.
Pride of place for the serious collector will be Old Beastie, the recumbent cycle Graeme designed and built in his kitchen that featured in the documentary Battle Mountain. With a guide price of between £10K-£15K we thing the bidding will be hot at the auction in Glasgow next Saturday 23rd September 2017.
Also on offer is a time trial bike designed and built by Obree for his comeback season in 2006. With a guide price of between £2K-£3K the auctioneers describe it as :
…built using Reynolds 653 and is silver soldered using cut down lugs and joining pieces for lightness. The bare frames weighs less than 1,300g. The forks are Hotty speciality from 1997 with titanium steering column and carbon blades. The handle bar arrangement and seat post were formed from solid 6082 aluminium and hand made by Graeme. Graeme considers this frame to be a work of art rather than cutting edge machine. He rode it at Donington Park motor racing circuit in 2009 at the BikerRader event with different forks and full bike set up and set the 2nd fastest lap on it. It is striped down to it’s bare minimum minus wheels and oily bits for artistic purity
If you’re not as familiar with British cyclists exploits on the world stage in the 1990s it’s safe to say, in the current era of Team Sky and marginal gains, that world hour record holder Graeme Obree was the finest maverick cyclist this country has ever produced. As the auctioneers describe him
Born in 1965, Graeme Obree’s career has been an inspiration for cyclists across the world from cycle tourists to elite cyclists such as Sir Chris Hoy. The two-time world hour record holder, who was named BBC Sportscene personality of the year in 1993, developed a keen interest in cycling as a youngster and regularly won senior races as a junior. Inspired by the hour record set by Francesco Moser in 1984, Obree went on to break the record using his own ‘crouch’ position, which was banned twice, riding ‘Old Faithful’ the bike he hand built using parts from a washing machine.
When Chris Boardman used heart rates and power cranks to train for the hour attempts, Graeme Obree took to the hills of Scotland, old school. Obree – famed for his innovative techniques, re-invented the rulebooks so many times that the UCI locked him and his designs down. He is in the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame as well as the British Cycling Hall of Fame, recognising the massive contribution he has made to the sport.
If you want something a little more affordable there are two of Graeme’s national champion’s jerseys and a distinctive Scotoil skinsuit that are guided to go between £100-£200.
There’s other racing memorabilia too with a collection of RTTC medals that Graeme had won over the years. Of particular note is lot 340 which is described as
A yellow-metal British Cycling Federation National Championship gold medal
the obverse inscribed British Cycling Federation National Championship, the reverse lettered Time Trial 1997 with ribbon
This was the last title won riding ‘Old Faithful’ and the last victory of note in Graeme’s career. It was especially important since it was won with no special position and according to the latest rules
If you want something bigger to display in a cabinet you can get this salver presented to Graeme by the BCF
in recognition of his achievement in setting a new World One Hour Record 51.596 KMS, Hamar, Norway 1993, 31cm wide
Also on offer are movie props used by Jonny Lee Miller who played Graeme in the film Flying Scotsman, movie posters, Olympic memorabilia and even a Through The Keyhole key that was awarded to Graeme after he appeared on the programme.
Guide prices for the Obree lots start at just £30 and we hope many of the items will be bought by charitable UK collectors who will make them available to be displayed in museums, velodromes and other public spaces.
We’ve had no news from Graeme on the reason for this momentous sale but we wish him well in whatever his new endeavours are. He really is warmly loved in cycling circles.
If you’re interested in purchasing get along for viewing at 1291 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow G14 9UY, this Thursday or Friday or email [email protected] to register for online bidding.
As well as the national junior road race championships, contested over one day, the top junior male cyclists in the UK also get to compete in a season long competition that aims to find the most consistent young riders in the UK.
Racing for the prestigious Peter Buckley trophy, named in honour of a promising Manx champion cyclist who died aged only 24, this series sees the best Juniors from around the country competing on anything from 5 to 12 events depending on logistics. In recent years the competitors also do battle over the multi day Junior Tour of Wales, allowing the calibre of the country’s future international stage race winners to shine through.
We’ve gone through our archives to build what proves to be an interesting list of the cream of the UK’s top young riders. We’ve highlighted which ones went on to ride in the Tour de France, which ones became senior world champions, which ones are in cycling families, which ones ended up riding for Team Sky and which ones set world records.
We’ve had some incredible riders break through on the world stage in recent years. We can only wonder what would have happened to more of the youngsters of the 70s and 80s had their been the support their is now.
Anyway, let’s enjoy their achievements and wonder what success the current crop of youngsters will win for GB on the world stage.
James Griffiths & Graham Hughes
Richard Heath & Jamie Alberts
Joint 1st Place
& Tom Southam
Joint 2nd Place
Tao Geoghegan Hart
Max Walker Lewis Askey
Joint 2nd Place
Strong cycling family
Became a senior world champion
Won Olympic medals
Set a UCI World Record
Rode the Tour de France
You might have noticed some surprising names missing from the list. No Robert Millar, Chris Boardman, Mark Cavendish, Mark Walsham, Ed Clancy, Rob Hayles, Roger Hammond or Dean Downing. Some developed their endurance later on, others concentrated on track or time trialling and for some travelling the length of the country as a teenager just wasn’t viable. But that’s a feature for another day. Want more old school cycling knowledge? Check out our pages on the legendary cycling commentator David Duffield