Go behind-the-scenes at Manchester’s National Cycling Centre

It is 7:30am on a lovely Manchester morning at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, where in a couple of days, the National Track Championships will be taking place.

Our two resident sports guinea pigs Rick (the man with no fear) and Mike (the man with no sense) weren’t put off by their last trip here to sample BMX riding – today they are out in the velodrome for a spot of track cycling.

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Our friendly instructor runs us through the basics of starting and stopping, the latter of which is made more difficult by the fact that track bikes have fixed gears and no brakes. We are told in no uncertain terms that speed is our friend and to stop pedaling for even a moment is to invite disaster. So no pressure there then.

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Once on the track, it’s quite clear that he was absolutely correct. The gradient of the track is such that you need to get a serious amount of power behind you in order to not come a cropper, particularly on the bends. For the professionals, who will be competing in a host of different disciplines across the three days of the event, the sheer amount of skill and effort involved must be incredible. For two complete novices, it mainly resulted in a slightly sick feeling and a touch of muscle cramp.

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It’s safe to say that neither of us managed to worry any of the potential competitors during our hour on the track but it is certainly something that we both would consider doing again, perhaps when fitter and healthier as it is an exhilarating sport to take part in and just as exciting to watch.

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See some of the world class talent in track cycling such as Sir Bradley Wiggins and Laura Trott race this weekend – buy your tickets here!

Head to for all the upcoming events. 

Words: Mike Harper Lee