Words by Amy Sedghi
Photos by www.samholdenagency.com
It doesn’t have the changing scenery of a long ride in the Surrey Hills or the winding roads of the Yorkshire Dales. There are no climbs to tick off your list and you’re not really even getting any further away than where you started. But, don’t let any of that put you off, riding round in circles at a velodrome can be highly addictive, challenging and some of the best fun on two wheels.
So what is the appeal? Personally, a few reasons come to mind: focusing on the wheel or group of riders in front is very meditative – after a session, I feel my mind has cleared of any worries or anxieties I brought with me to the track. The speed and opportunities to race are exhilarating. It’s a pure cycling community with no other vehicles to worry about and there is both a simplicity and a complexity to it, meaning there is a variety of directions you can go with it (metaphorically that is, you’ll always be going anti-clockwise on the track). And, of course, it’s great for building up fitness.
Speaking to some of the women training at Herne Hill Velodrome, where I myself attend sessions, it’s fascinating to hear the reasons that draw each of them to spend hours going round in circles.
It was whilst watching a mixed fixed criterium last year, that Hanna Wheatley, 24, already a keen cyclist, was inspired to give the track a go. “There were only four women in it and one fell, got back up and kept riding with a bloody knee and I was hooked. I thought they were the strongest women I’d ever seen.”