Search

Riding a ‘fixie’ around the Olympic Velodrome — Parklife reporter Freddy Mayhew goes for a spin

12:48 14 March 2014

Reporter Freddy Mayhew on the track at the velodrome.

Reporter Freddy Mayhew on the track at the velodrome.

Archant

“It didn’t look that steep on TV”, I say to myself while nervously strapping both feet into a bike with no brakes.

Reporter Freddy Mayhew on the track at the velodrome.Reporter Freddy Mayhew on the track at the velodrome.

Voicing my concern to one of four coaches I’m told that while to my eyes the two corners of the indoor cycling track look like a sheer wall, they are in fact banked at an angle of 42 degrees.

There’s little comfort in this new knowledge but no time to reflect as I’m ushered over to begin some basic training with the fixed gear bike which is to be my trusted steed around what has been billed as the fastest indoor track in the world.

I had never ridden a “fixie” before and it’s an odd thing to get used to.

For those who don’t know, the speed of the bike is entirely controlled by how much or how little you peddle — in essence your legs are the brakes.

Reporter Freddy Mayhew on the track at the velodrome.Reporter Freddy Mayhew on the track at the velodrome.

As both of your feet must be strapped to the peddles at all times for proper control, you quickly develop a dependence on the central hand rail to stop without injury (although falling over is still an option).

After a few laps of the track in the flat “safety zone”, me and my fellow novice riders move up to the “cote d’azure” — the blue-painted bottom edge of the track which in a competition is not part of the race track.

Not long after getting used to the sloped wooden surface we are encouraged to move higher up it, into the body of the track where Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton powered to victory some 18 months earlier.

Climbing the wooden piste is a surprisingly difficult feat, not least because your brain is naturally advising you against what your about to do, and any potential “wall of death” scenarios, as a matter of precaution.

Reporter Freddy Mayhew on the track at the velodrome.Reporter Freddy Mayhew on the track at the velodrome.

I fight against the sensation that I might topple over at any moment and heed my coach’s cries to “keep up the pace”.

The final lap comes as a relief, by now I am exhausted and can feel my legs burning.

I wobble off the track, leaning heavily on my bike which has doubled as a handy walking support.

The Team GB riders certainly make it look easier than it is.

This isn’t simply riding a bike as fast as you can, it’s a serious test of strength, stamina, skill and stability — and that’s without the pressure of trying to win.

• For more news on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, check out the Parklife section of the Newham Recorder

0 comments

Latest News Stories

The Connaught Urinal (picture: Newham Archives and Local Studies Library)

The fate of Newham’s Iron Lung – an ornate Victorian urinal used by dock workers – has long been a mystery. But now, after some detective work, its whereabouts can finally be revealed...

Newham Council
08:00
NoFit State

Have you always wanted to find out what it takes to pull of those talented circus tricks that the performers take on so effortlessly?

Yesterday, 08:00
Bollywood Brass Band

Head East to enjoy a weekend filled with music, dance, theatre, and various circus performances at an upcoming festival.

Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 16:30
Reporter Mark Shales in Beijing

Reporter Mark Shales is in China on a tour of facilities operated by ABP, the company that are developing a business district in Newham’s Royal Albert Dock. Here he blogs for the first time about his experience overseas...

China

Most read news

Competitions

Get your hands on some fresh trainers!

Need some new shoes to head to work or some new heels for a night on the cobbles? London24 has teamed up with online retailer Sole Trader to offer £100 worth of shoes to one lucky reader.

Read more
Take in the stunning sites of London from the summit of the O2!

Up at The O2 has teamed up with London24 to give one lucky reader the chance to experience urban mountaineering this summer with an exhilarating 90-minute climb across the roof of one of London’s most iconic landmarks.

Read more

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Newham Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder