Sunday, 26 February 2012

Once you pop, you just can't stop

In keeping with the UK media excitement and coverage of all things velodrome, cyclesguff has some fantastic shots of the Meadowbank Velodrome in Edinburgh for you to enjoy. Many thanks for guest guffer Jon for sending these and providing cyclesguff with the opportunity to show his work.

Words from Jon:

I'd taken 'the family' down to Meadowbank velodrome on a cold and bright evening last mid September after much intention to see it first hand from the inside, and to be honest, I had hoped someone would offer me a quick loan of a track bike, and a taste of the splintery old boards myself. As a track virgin - safer somehow with very few people watching. And thought that Lars (age 6) might just be sparkled by the ghost of Chris Hoy.

It was the kind of evening that reminded me of any autumn from the 1970's, riding around the estate with yer mates, after the chippie trying to blag in at the local pub for an underage beer and then falling off your bike on the way home. (Cheap lager and my old Holdsworth - ah, I still use them both frequently).

I had been kindly contacted after a while by the very welcoming Allistir who seems to be the veteran organiser, timekeeper and 'gatekeeper' to most of the club activities that takes place at the track (East of Scotland track cycling academy). It's still a bit of a mystery how anyone finds out what and when stuff happens there... but this is all part of the charm of the place. The track surface needs.. well a new surface.. there's only so much you can do with a can of Ronseal. Picnic tables make for pro work-benches. The centre is er grassed over, with plenty of room to run the dogs, fly kites maybe and to pull up some of the old school chairs and break open .. a picnic... The UCI would love it. God, to have been here when Chris was thundering round.

UCI Judges where suspicious of lap times
On a previous visit, we had turned up just hopeful of folk being there, but unlucky then, so had piled up some old chairs found down the back lane, into a pyramid and I'd peered in over the top. Even after having seen past photos I couldn't believe it was as it was...

I'd then naively researched all I could find on the velodrome (built by German architects Schuermann) and why it had fallen by the wayside over the years, in spite of excellent continued proactive support and action from the SaveMeadowbankers. The council had seemingly continually resisted any commitments to restore it (on the basis of 'other facilities being built' elsewhere) and yet had not off-loaded it or the grounds for 'property development' as they had hoped.

I'd crazily imagined spearheading some inspiring renovation plans in the hands of cycle-loving, thrusting modernist architects... All fired up like others previously I convinced myself that there must be some very good reason why nothing at all had happened, planning issues, preservation orders, hidden agendas..?

Back in 1985 it was built tucked away as best it could be 'within the car park', a temporary structure for the 1986 Commonwealth Games. Perhaps unsurprisingly now, it seems that one corner of the velodrome building has been built in a position way too close to the passing railway tracks!

Too close I think to allow any building alterations of the scale and quality it so rightly deserves. Any thoughts about re-routing the railway track?

In stark contrast to Jon's experience of Meadowbank, the inaugural competition at the Olympic 'pringle' in London was a run away success. Great crowds, close racing and the world records proved that it is a fast track. 

Track designer, Ron Webb's explanation of the track is intriguing to say the least:
"In designing this track you take the centrifugal forces – at full speed a cyclist and his bike weighs about 100kg and they are doing 42 mph – and in that last half of the curve they take on another 70kg worth of centrifugal pressure, so they weigh 170kg at that point into the straight.

"You want to give the cyclists the best exit out of the curve that they can use to throw themselves out of, into the straight." That ‘best exit” apparently isn’t in the middle of the camber, but down towards the sprinters’ lane.

And, if one new velodrome was not enough, Glasgow's own boards will be in use soon. The Sir Chris Hoy velodrome is scheduled to open this summer. This has been built as part of the 2014 Commonwealth Games facilities. Hopefully the organisers will allow those boards to breath and provide access well in advance of the 2014.

At least this Schuermann velodrome will have a roof

There is always discussion about the impact of major sporting events and the costs to build new facilities and update infrastructure. If the Team GB exploits are anything to go by, the all too frequently used word - legacy can be witnessed by the incredible acceptance of track cycling in the UK - when was the last time the BBC offered so much air time for bikes? With the new tracks in place, let's hope more international events and rounds come to the UK. The momentum of Team GB will hopefully continue to gather pace as existing and future riders of all ages develop their craft on the boards. The headache for Team GB will be selection, we already witnessed that in London last week. Then again, it's not a bad sign, so many capable riders to choose from. It's unfortunate, that not all of them will have a chance to shine. Dani King was very gracious in dealing with selection for the world cup. However, it all came good in the end when she was picked, resulting in a World Record and World Cup Gold.

Stay upright

No comments:

Post a Comment