Wow – what amazing facilities we have on our doorstep. The Centre has a velodrome that regularly plays host to major championships and a brilliant BMX Track.
I took my boys to the BMX Track, on an under 16s starter session in the summer holidays. With a starting age of five, you need to be able to ride standing up, the gradients are pretty steep, and if you fall off it really hurts! Wearing long trousers, a long-sleeved top and sturdy shoes, they were fully kitted up with pads and a helmet, then measured for a bike. After a safety briefing you start by cycling on the flat, getting used to the bike. Harry loved it and was soon flying off round the dirt track. Sam is a less confident rider, but the coach was brilliant and really encouraging. By the end of the session Harry was starting from the raised start ramp, a thrilling drop down to the main track. For Sam we’ll be back next year for another go – if I’ve not put him off for life!
For those with little ones they run fab strider sessions on balance bikes twice a week. It’s aimed at two to five-year-olds and no experience is needed as there are loads of coaches on hand to help.
On the back of our successful visit, when friends came to stay with teenage boys, both keen cyclists, we took the opportunity to book them onto a starter session (from nine years plus) at the Velodrome. Again, after being measured for a racing bike you get a full safety briefing – there are no brakes, you only pedal forward, and your feet are strapped in! The boys had a great time attempting to be the next Sir Chris Hoy and got pretty competitive trying to get higher and higher up the banks on each lap, and then speeding down the straights. For parents, watching at the top of the bank, it’s pretty hairy!
New in 2013, the Clayton Vale 12km mountain bike trail has graded trails, from easy to severe. They start at the centre, where there is a skills zone so you can practise your moves if you’re not sure what level to attempt. Riding the trail is free, or you can book taster courses to get you going.
Before your first session, you’ll need to register in advance. It’s free and you can download a form online.
BMX Starter Session: Adult £6, Child £4 plus bike hire of £2. Strider Session £3. Velodrome Taster Session: Adult £11, Child £8.60 includes bike hire. MTB Taster: Adult £10.50, Child £7.50 includes bike hire
The National Cycling Centre, Stuart Street, Manchester M11 4DQ
Tel: 0161 223 2244