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Magazines Made for You | AUG 2012

Magazines Made for You | AUG 2012

Being Wiggo The road to take to be the next Bradley Wiggins or Lizzie Armitstead Team GB’s cyclists will inspire a new generation. It is becoming a regular, four-yearly occurrence around the UK: the British cycling team collect a clutch of Olympic medals and suddenly velodromes and bike clubs are inundated with interested newcomers. So, if your 12-year-old son or daughter has decided they want to become the next Bradley Wiggins or Lizzie Armitstead – or, indeed, if you fancy your chances – where to begin?

Peter Walker

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Magazines Made for You | AUG 2012

How do I start?

Wiggo eating his success

Lizzie Armitstead celebrating with her Silver medal

By far the best way to get involved in competitive cycling is to join a local club. As well as providing people to ride with, and sometimes facilities, clubs have on tap decades of collective knowledge and experience. If you’re not sure what sort of cycling is for you, or what bike to buy, this is the place to start. British Cycling, the sport’s governing body in this country, has around 1,400 clubs affiliated to it, and a facility on its website to find your local one. It recommends calling the secretary of a local club to discuss what sort of things they do, and whether this suits you. A few clubs can be a bit fixated on very competitive, high-speed events, but increasing numbers offer rides for more or less every ability and experience level.

What sorts of cycling can I do? The list is very long. Traditionally, clubs tend to specialise in road racing and/ or time trials, the latter being the flat out, against the clock contest in which

Magazines Made for You | AUG 2012 Wiggins triumphed on wednesday. Alternatively, those with access to a velodrome or outside track will often be geared towards that. But there are plenty of other competitive options – mountain biking, whether cross country (up and down) or downhill (just the latter); BMX, usually undertaken on a specially-built circuit; and cyclocross, the increasingly popular challenge is which riders race thick-tyred road-type bikes over muddy ground and hills.

How can I try track cycling? There are two options: the indoor velodromes of the type used in the Olympics, surfaced in polished wood, or outdoor tracks, again usually oval and banked, but more often concrete or asphalt. They’re both essentially the same thing, although velodromes clearly have an advantage if it’s raining, or winter. There are more than a dozen outdoor tracks of various sorts spread around the UK, and a handful of velodromes, for example in Manchester and – once the Olympics are over – east London.

You can’t just begin track cycling without supervision. Using the brake-free, fixed gear bikes needs practice, as does getting sufficient confidence to properly use the banking. Given that velodromes tend to be used by a number of fast-moving bikes at once, there’s also some etiquette to acquire. Many tracks offer try-out days, often with the use of a track bike.

“It’s really weird. It feels wrong that you’re defying gravity and going against all the laws of physics when you ride around those bends. It’s a real adrenaline rush.”

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