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SPORTS FLOORING if you go right and up then you’re safe.”

Just remembering to go right does seem pretty simple, but in the heat of moment, and especially for first timers, I do imagine it slips the mind. Bob admits that although it does, “the worst injuries we get are in racing. Due to the speed and closer proximity, the impact of coming off is much higher.”

Bruised elbows aside, the track does face real challenges on a daily basis, caused, in fact, by the same element that nearly got me drenched on the way to the park. “Sometimes, because of the moisture content in the wood, the whole track lifts up by six inches, 150ml,” Bob explains, “so in order for it not to have a spongey effect, we have to go around the frames underneath and put wedges in so that it settles down again. When it rises, it leaves quite big gaps between the laths.”

pieces were chunks of the finish line, but we did also sell standard pieces too. The money went back into the running and upkeep of the new centre, and also into a celebratory murial, which a local artist was commissioned to do.”

Made in its entirety from concrete, steel and softwood from Russia, (Siberian Pine to be specific), the materials for velodromes have always stayed the same. But could a velodrome flooring ever be made out of something other than wood? “Perhaps,” says Bob. “You could potentially make it out of a resin mould, but you’d have to have such massive moulds, and unless you were mass-producing them it wouldn’t be of any benefit.” What about a new invention? “If there was a material that was discovered that always looked

THE NCC IN NUMBERS 3 World Track Championships held

6 inches, the amount the track can lift by

7 metre track width 18 carpenters employed for rebuild 96 velodrome hire bikes available 250 metre indoor wooden track 3000 floor area 3150 seating capacity 45000 rides per year

good, was just as grippy as wood but you couldn’t damage, and had a shelf- life of longer than 25 years, maybe.” Manufacturers, take note!

“Because each wooden lath is nailed to its sister lath, there is absolutely no way of replacing individual planks or section without lifting up the entire track.”

I’m interested to broach the subject of injuries with Bob, being as I am the type of person who would turn down paintballing for fear of bruising! The slope is steep, and even half-way up, you get the feeling that any fall would lead to a very sore head, if not a broken bone or two. Surprisingly though, this is the not the case. “In a taster session, riders rarely get over 25mph, so any injuries are limited to light abrasions and occasionally, if someone knocks their head, concussion,” Bob explains. “Because of the geometry of the track, you only ever end up on the blue concrete at the bottom. That’s one of the good things about the design of the track. If you’re on a session and something happens in front of you, you know that whatever moment that rider is having, they’re going to be going left. So,

But as for the more mundane challenges, and that of track maintenance, things are surprisingly simple. “If there is track damage, we sand out all the splinters and fill it with a wood-filler and sand it off. If it’s higher up the track, we screw a baton in, so it’s just like steps. Even if it’s on the highest part of the banking, it’s just like walking up the side of a roof. Or we just use a ladder!”

Sounds easy enough, but as always, there’s a catch. Underneath the velodrome, accessed via a boiler room, Bob explains: “There is no way of replacing individual planks or sections, because each lath is nailed to its sister lath. Having said that, there can never be that much damage to the track, and wood-filler is sufficient to mend any repairs that need making.”

We find ourselves back at the entrance. It has been a pleasure visiting the centre, and I wish that I’d had the time to stay a couple of hours to try out a taster session. Oh, and I’d love to say that the sunshine made an appearance as I stepped outside again, but no, it was still raining. I guess that’s Manchester for you.


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