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I have been asked to do a write up about yesterdays trip to the Calshot velodrome, so here goes …
Firstly, a brief history lesson. Calshot is located on the western side of Southampton Water, about as far south as you can go without ending up in the Solent. It’s a spit of land, so is surrounded by the sea. There is a castle, built by Henry V111, and a complex of buildings that were Royal Naval Station Calshot. This was first built in 1913, and is the historic site where the Schneider Trophy seaplane races took place. Also Aircraftman Shaw, better known as Laurence of Arabia served at Calshot in 1929. The Air base was shut in 1961, and stood derelict until 1994, when Hampshire County Council, along with the Lottery invested £5 million in creating the Calshot Sports Activity centre. This includes sailing, 3 indoor dry ski runs, a massive climbing wall (with lots of horrid looking overhangs) plus shooting ranges, Archery, the cycling track, and a bar.
The first track they installed was a “cut down” job (I think from Holland) but the track did not turn out to be useable, so another one was built by Ron Webb (who also designed the tracks at Manchester, Newport, and London 2012 amongst others) It was completed in 1997, and is the second smallest permanent indoor velodrome in the World . (apparently Canada have a smaller one). Its 142.6 metres, with banking at 45 degrees.
We arrived at 8.15am, so 15 minutes to spare. The viewing area was open, so we just had to have a look, which might not have been the best idea. From the top the banks look almost vertical. You pass through a tunnel into the centre. The wooden surface felt very slippery, and we were all wondering “how do you stay on !”
Our Instructor, Keith was very good, carefully taking us through a programme of exercises to get us up to speed on the track (literally). You ride the centres own bikes, which are single speed fixed, with no brakes. Look Keo pedals are used, and you can use your own shoes if they are compatible. Helmets and shoes are available as part of the deal. The first exercise simply involved riding around the green boarded “inner track” which is flat, and getting used to clipping in fixed, and more importantly, being able to bring the bike to a stop by back peddling, and not falling off !. Once that was mastered (or sort of !) we then rode around first the blue wooden Cote D’Azur lead into the track “proper”, then finally onto the woods themselves. A key exercise is to be able to control your speed, (remember no brakes) and if it all goes wrong, to go up, to avoid hitting the bike in front. We were then taken up in stages from the Datum line (bottom) through the Sprinters Red line, and finally up above the Blue “stayers” line. The gradient is the same at the bottom as the top, so you are not going to fall off it you maintain a safe speed (but try telling you brain that !). By the end of the morning we were all confidently zooming up and down the banking.
The afternoon session was when the fun really started. We were split into teams of 4, and spent the afternoon chasing each other in team pursuit races. This involved each team riding opposite each other in close formation, then when the whistle is blown, you have to try and chase down your opposition. The leader of each team changes at the end of each lap, peeling upwards towards the top of the banking, before dropping back down to the back of the team. The key is teamwork. Only when the whole team catches the other, is a winner declared. Steve R, Dave P. Jonathan , and Tony were pitted against Tim, Ian, Nick and Richard for the first race. Cycling the track when racing becomes a lot more serious. You are entering the banking a lot faster, and it becomes much harder to keep the bike on line. After about 8 laps our team had gained about ¼ of a track, when Jonathan had a lapse of concentration and ran off the track onto the Cote D’Azur. By the time we had re-formed we were even again. We seemed to go round for what seemed like forever until finally Tim’s team started to falter and we reeled them in. Den, Phil and Lee then took on Angela, Rachael and Ian. Unfortunately the girls did not stand much of a chance, and were quickly dispatched !. The teams were then re-sorted, and Tim, Phil, Dave and Rich teamed up, and simply ate up all the opposition.
A 5 minute warm down, and it was all over. I think you can see from the pictures that we had a great day, with smiles, frowns, and concentration in equal measure. We are certainly going to go again. Steve
I think the key thing is that although these posts are about the same event, the specific subjects are different enough to warrant separate threads (in this case: advertising the event; highlighting one last-minute place; and publicising photographs post-event).
I think it makes more sense to break the content up into separate threads with relevant titles, rather than making people scroll through screens of largely unrelated content to get to something important buried right at the bottom.
Only just had the chance to watch this 2nd video. That first race was so exciting (you really had to be there !) I thought It took a long time to wear you guys down, and 7 minutes seemed like forever. Good stuff.