GUIDE: Britain’s best velodromes – where to ride track in the UK

Ride at the UK’s top cycling centres

British cycle racing hasn’t always been the huge success story that it is today and, like many great sporting feats, the results of London 2012 and the Rio 2016 Olympics came after years of preparation, dedication and investment.

Britain’s velodromes naturally have played their part in this success – both past and present – and their place within cycling’s rich folklore should never be downplayed.

But where and when did the first velodromes spring up? Are they still used today? And if so, are they the places where Britain’s gold medalists honed their craft?

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The early velodromes

One of the world’s first velodromes was built at Preston Park in Brighton, a 633 yard long track that opened in 1877. Portsmouth velodrome soon followed, featuring a single straight joined by one swooping curve.

The materials that were used in the early velodromes differed from track to track, as did each circuit’s functionality. While some were built specifically for cycling, others were built around the outside of running tracks, providing extra lanes for runners to train.

Throughout the history of the Olympics, many velodromes were used – all of which differed in size, length and technical aspects. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1990s when the length of velodromes were standardised, a factor which resulted in the reason why today’s events take place on a 250 metre track, as opposed to the various lengths that were used throughout the 20th century.

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UK’s greatest tracks

Although some of the early velodromes may have closed their doors, there are still many great velodromes here in the UK and the number of facilities continues to increase. Just take a look at some of the tracks below.

Lee Valley VeloPark – now arguably the most famous velodrome in the UK the Lee Valley VeloPark, in east London, is the track where Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Laura Trott rode to victory during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Manchester Velodrome – the home of British Cycling (the sport’s governing body), Manchester Velodrome is the place where some of the nation’s finest Olympians have trained over the years. Located near the Etihad Stadium, the velodrome is also open to the public  – just make sure you book well in advance if ever you fancy a few laps!

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The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome – while the Manchester Velodrome may be home to British Cycling, the Scottish Cycling team can often be found training on Glasgow’s Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. Again, this track is open to the public, which is handy for any cyclist looking to build their fitness.

Herne Hill Velodrome – is one of the oldest tracks in the world, built in south London in 1891, and for decades was the home of the famous Good Friday Track Meeting. In 1948 it hosted the track cycling events at the London Olympics and it is still a very popular track for training and racing today.

Newport Velodrome – The Welsh National Velodrome opened in 2003 and was used by the British track cycling team for its pre-event training camps ahead of the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics. It has also been crucial in developing a string of talented Welsh cyclists such as Nicole Cooke and Geraint Thomas.

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Remembering Leicester track

While the tracks above highlight some of the best UK velodromes today, it’s worth remembering one of of the great velodromes of the past.

The Saffron Lane Velodrome – an outdoor stadium that once played host to some of British Cycling’s most memorable moments – was a 3,100 seater velodrome located in Leicester. The Leicester track hosted the UCI World Championships in 1970 and 1982.

Unfortunately, the opening of the new Manchester Velodrome hastened the end for the once glorious Saffron Lane track which eventually closed its doors in 1999.

Take a look at the map below to see where all the UK’s velodromes are located and to find out more about which notable cyclists have trained where.

Ribble launched the new, exciting full carbon Eliminator track bike during the 2016-17 track season. Read all about it here.

 

Name Location
1 Caird Park Dundee
2 Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome Glasgow
3 Meadowbank Velodrome Edinburgh
4 Tommy Givan Track Orangefield, Belfast
5 Middlesbrough Sports Village Middlesbrough
6 Richmondshire Velodrome (Richmondshire Cricket Club Velodrome) Richmond, North Yorkshire
7 York Sport Velodrome York, North Yorkshire
8 Roundhay Park Leeds, West Yorkshire
9 Quibell Park Stadium Scunthorpe
10 Long View Leisure (Knowsley Leisure & Culture Park) Huyton Knowsley, Merseyside
11 Manchester Velodrome (The National Cycling Centre) Manchester
12 Forest Town Welfare Mansfield,Nottinghamshire
13 Lyme Valley Stadium Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
14 Derby Arena Derby
15 Aldersley Track Aldersley,Wolverhampton
16 Halesowen Velodrome Halesowen, West Midlands
17 Carmarthen Park Carmarthen
18 Maindy Stadium (Maindy Centre) Cardiff
19 Newport Velodrome (Newport Velo) Newport
20 Palmer Park Stadium Reading
21 Gosling Sports Park Welwyn Garden City
22 Lee Valley VeloPark Leyton, East London
23 Herne Hill Velodrome London
24 Poole Park Track Poole, Dorset
25 Bournemouth Cycle Centre Bournemouth,Dorset
26 Calshot Velodrome Calshot
27 The Mountbatten Centre Portsmouth
28 Preston Park Brighton, East Sussex

 

 

 

 

GUIDE: Get a grip with 8 of the best Autumn, Winter & wet weather tyres

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Now that the dark nights and wetter conditions are here, in the UK, we’ve put together this handy guide to eight of our best tyres for autumn and winter riding.

Once the wetter, harsher weather arrives, road surface conditions can deteriorate making bike handling trickier without the right tyres and the risk of puncture higher.

Invest in a new pair of road tyres for the winter and they’ll keep you riding right through to springtime.

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Continental GP 4 Season

Available in three widths – 23, 25 and 28 mm – the GP 4 Season from Continental is one of the very best wet weather tyres out there.

When I canvassed opinion from fellow staff who commute to Ribble throughout the winter months, our chief Product Tester Andy simply replied, “4 Seasons, 4 Seasons, 4 Seasons!” He added, “I got 4,000 miles out of the last set. They have really good grip in all conditions, especially the wet damp roads and good puncture protection.”

Personally I’ve also successfully used them in an alpine Etape du Tour to minimise the puncture risk and maximise cornering grip should I be caught in a downpour. The GP 4 Season is a truly versatile tyre and it will serve you well right through the winter.

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Michelin Power All Season Folding Tyre

With the Michelin Power All Season, its grip that is the focus of the fabled French manufacturer’s performance claims. These great tyres are also available in three widths (23, 25 and 28mm). The thick tread contains Michelin’s Aramid Protek Plus puncture protection layer.

Road.cc were impressed with this tyre, “The tyres feel supple and I found my favoured spot at around 95psi, which gave a cushioned, luxurious ride while still allowing me to spin along at what I fondly imagine to be a good pace.”

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Vredestein Fortezza Senso Xtreme Weather Twinpack

A grippy, competition tyre for extremely cold and wet weather conditions, the Fortezza Senso Xtreme Weather features Vredestein’s newly developed XWS compound developed for low rolling resistance and outstanding grip.

Cycling Weekly call these “good all year round” and road.cc were “impressed by their sure-footedness.” Also available in three widths (23, 25 and 28mm).

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Schwalbe Durano Plus Folding Tyre Twinpack

The SmartGuard protection belt made of elastic rubber achieves an unusually high level of protection for a racing tyre but the flip side is that it makes this a heavier tyre – which is perhaps not a really bad thing in the winter months.

The dual compound ensures optimum adhesion, even on the wet rides of autumn and winter. Schwalbe call this “the most puncture-proof racing tyre there is” and it’s available in 23 and 25mm widths.

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Continental GatorSkin Folding Tyre

The Gatorskin is famous as a hard wearing, puncture protected tyre designed for fast riding and commuting. It’s probably the most popular road bike tyre in the UK with cut-resistant Duraskin and Kevlar-reinforced layers.

The slick tread for exceptional grip in both wet and dry conditions which makes it such a winter favourite.

Once known as the Ultra GatorSkin before the new GatorHardshell was introduced there is a 25mm width option which adds some extra comfort to your ride.

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gatorhardshellContinental GatorHardshell Folding Tyre

If you’re a fan of the GatorSkin then you can take it to the ‘next level’ with the Continental GatorHardshell for even more protection. These road tyres are practically bulletproof or at least I cannot remember ever having a puncture whilst using them – they are perfect for winter when the last thing you want to be doing is changing a tube at the roadside.

According to Road.cc the GatorHardshell “should reward you with exceptionally long life, puncture resistance, a very comfortable ride at speed and very good value for money over the life of the tyre.”

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COMMUTER & TOURING TYRES

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Schwalbe Marathon Rigid Tyre

For a less racy bike or a rougher commute you might want to consider the ever-popular Schwalbe Marathon. The Marathon’s highly elastic GreenGuard puncture protection layer is 3 mm thick and one of the main reasons that this durable tyre is commonly used on touring or adventure bikes.

The Marathon is a legend, a good solid commuting tyre available in a wide variety of sizes.

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Continental Touring Plus
Continental Touring Plus Rigid Tyre

The commuting tyre for those riders whose only concern is puncture protection is the Continental Touring Plus. This extremely tough puncture-proof layer is virtually impenetrable to stones, glass and thorns.

Like Schawlbe’s Marathon the Touring Plus is a popular touring tyre with a fast rolling central tread section. Between the tread and the carcass, a puncture protection layer of highly elastic special rubber is practically impenetrable and successfully defies all foreign objects from getting to the inner tube beneath it.

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