Last Saturday, Ale and myself decided to catch two birds with a stone (almost three): take the “old ladies” (aka Eroica bikes) for a test ride, and visit Herne Hill Velodrome. The vintage bikes test ride was sort of ok (Ale’s Holdsworth responded well, my Raleigh had a few issues with the rear wheel and very noisy brakes), but we managed to get to Herne Hill just in time to meet the wives and the youngest member of the club, little Pietro.
Every first Saturday of the month there is also a bike parts car boot sale at the velodrome, so we were hoping to find something interesting to complete our kit for Eroica. This was quite a disappointment (that’s the half bird caught with one stone), just a couple of stands with mainly old greasy parts and 90s shirts, but I got a saddle for 5£ for my single speed.
However, the main scope of the trip was to try riding on the track! On Saturdays (13.00 to 14.00) the velodrome organises an induction session to let people try the track: where do we sign up? The track itself is fine, the surrounding area a bit less, but the spirit is great and there were plenty of cyclists because in the afternoon there were races.
According to my wife, we were looking like little kids going to the fun fair for the first time: big smiles and lots of excitement. We found the container with the office and refreshments and for 10£ we signed up for 1 hour induction session with the instructors and borrowed a track bike. Unfortunately, like on the roller coasters, there are age and height limits and Pietro couldn’t join us, so he watched from the stands together with his mom.
How was it then? Great fun! The instructors just put us and another 20 beginners on the bikes, strapped our feet tight to the pedals and told us to ride. We did a few slow laps, all in a single file, moving up and down the track, then some other drills such as changing at the front, riding side by side, etc. There were I think five instructors and it felt all very well organised. At the end, we were told that we can now participate in the beginners sessions (Saturday 12.00 to 13.00). A few of those, then we can to the advanced. And finally we can get the accreditation and sign up for racing! That would be cool, but I’m afraid it will require yet another bike, not sure how that would go down with the wives… One thing I’m sure of: we will be back!