#GetCycleFit A Visit To Manchester Velodrome

When I began #CycleFitChallenge a month ago, I had little idea what to expect from a coach on the end of the phone, and even littler idea whether I’d want to stick to the training I’d been prescribed in the run up to racing Red Hook Crit in London.

I’d only very recently written in my blog for Brooks England that I don’t like the concept of training – having always been involved in unstructured ‘freesports’ such as snowboarding, skateboarding and more recently BMX, to me, training came loaded with negative connotations and I found being told how and when to ride off-putting.

To combat my ingrained resistance, right at the start of this exercise I was careful not to think of what I was doing as training, but rather to look at is as a series of exercises or workouts to incorporate into cycling I’d be doing anyway, and that approach has worked very well for me.

But with Red Hook Crit nearly upon us, I’m approaching the end of the challenge and with several weeks of structured cycling under my belt, I’m finally acceptant of training – I’ve even come to like it – and really look forward to receiving my training plan from my coach every Sunday evening. Last week I was happy to receive my penultimate schedule and find it appended like this:

“There are two weeks until the race. As I said on the phone we can make this week pretty tough and stretch you a little. This is a tough week – if you start to struggle we can cut a session. Now get out, have fun and SHRED!!!!!!!!!!!”

Day #27

Despite having recently taken delivery of my new Charge Bikes track bike and the fact I’ve been training for Red Hook Crit, I’ve not actually had much chance to the bike, so last Tuesday I loaded her onto the car for a trip to Manchester velodrome and the National Cycling Centre.


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After a lot of faffing buying vinegar (to clean my tyres and prepare them for the track) and sprockets (to change my gearing and make it heavier), I finally made it to the velodrome only to be told I might not be able go on. I’m an accredited track cyclist with a British Cycling license showing as much and I’d been led to believe that an agreement between the five cities with velodromes (Manchester, London, Newport, Derby and Edinburgh) meant I’d be able to ride without any problems.

That turns out not to be true, but luckily for me, the kindly receptionist managed to sort out my problem, effectively putting me on probation until the coach was happy with my riding. So a word of caution – track accreditation remains site specific at present and you’d best phone up before you set off to avoid problems. I ended up missing half the session.

The session itself was a Structured Quality Training session for ‘B’ riders and vets, and as such was a pretty chilled and friendly way to spend the morning. The coach was super duper nice and all the other riders were so friendly and helpful – I only wish I lived closer to Manchester velodrome as I’d sign up every week!

The day continued to be really rather lovely as my time on the track was followed by a tour of the National Cycling Centre and a very exciting meeting with British Cycling, with whom I may be partnering in the future on some secret projects. It was such a fun morning – I was like a kid in a sweet shop and so overexcited to be in what to me, is a very important place for cycling – a kind of temple to all I love.

Back in the Peaks later that evening, I completed my second training session of the day which was in many ways a rehearsal for the crit. With it being a very intense workout on public roads, of course I couldn’t ride my track bike as it wouldn’t be safe, so it was back out on the Goomah 731 for a 45 minute heart rate zone 4 ride with lots of sprints thrown in too.

It was a beautiful summer evening and I pedalled up to Bakewell huffing and puffing and looking like a total lunatic. I do wish sometimes I could share images of just how wild-eyed, vermillion and drenched with sweat I get on these rides rather than just grabbing photos when I’m far more composed – it would show a fascinating side of cycling which is not about smiles and nice outfits.


Day #28



This was a hill sprint session to build strength.

“Warmed up for 20 mins then completed six 30 second hill sprints. Was extremely tough for the last ten seconds of each effort – those last ten seconds were more of a brutal grunt and struggle to keep turning the pedals than a sprint!”


Day #29


An interval sprint session for half an hour, where I sprinted for 30 seconds every 2 and a half minutes. I really like this particular workout and it’s definitely one I’ll continue as it’s ideal if you want to get the most out of a short session.


Day #30


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On Friday I finally got a second ride on my track bike at the Velopark, in what was my last practice for the Red Hook Crit. I travelled down to Devon to visit Dave and go to Kye Forte’s Green Acres jam, so the opportunity for a pretend crit was far too good to miss. As I’ve been riding a bloody road bike all the time, the gearing on my track bike felt pretty heavy, plus my legs were quite fatigued. It was a pretty painful and unenjoyable session to be honest, but it was followed by a lovely weekend of beers, BBQs, puppies and BMX!

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