15 March 2014

A bit of pedal power at the Velodrome

"You need to do a little dance with your foot to release it."

Doug, the coach at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow's East Side was explaining the mysteries of cleats to those of us who cycle normally with pedals only, writes Brian Byrne. He also showed us how basic the bikes used were — no brakes, a fixed hub so that slowing down is a matter of slowing the speed your legs are pedalling. And very light.

Nope, I didn't go all the way up to the steepest part on the ends, but over an hour or so a number of us novices did get the hang of the idea anyway. It's a really great facility, part of the Emirates Arena Complex built for the Commonwealth Games this summer. At a cost of £113m, the whole complex is a wonderful facility for the city and its residents. It includes a full gym and a spa, as well as an indoor arena with running tracks and netball courts.

The Velodrome is one of only five in the UK, and is named after Scotland's most successful cyclist and Britain's best medal-winning Olympics athlete. It will seat 4,000 during the Commonwealth Games, and the arena can hold 6,500 people.

Many, many more than were there to see me eventually run out of puff this morning and leave the track ... but you can't have everything.

Now for a city bus tour, at an easier pace.