In March two Bike It secondary schools got the opportunity to be the first schools in the country to try out the new mountain bike skills area at the Stratford VeloPark. Students who regularly cycle to Oaks Park High School (Redbridge) and Sydney Russell School (Barking and Dagenham) were chosen by their school champions for this once in a lifetime opportunity.
“It’s not every day you get to be part of the official opening of an Olympic legacy venue.”
As they arrived the sun was shining and the group were met with the inspiring timber facade of the Velodrome, towering above them. “Thoughts of the British Olympic cycling champions such as Hoy, Trott, and Pendelton, surely added to their excitement.”
Once kitted out with helmets and brand new Condor mountain bikes, they made their way to the skills area. On the way to the trail a brief stop to take in the scale of the BMX track was unavoidable and I am sure they will be tempted back to have a go on this national standard track soon.
Bike It officers Andy Casson and James Scott (both qualified mountain bike coaches) coached the students through a range of bike handling techniques including the ready position, cornering, and weight shift, enabling them to negotiate the challenging track, with some confident enough to ride the small step downs on the Red graded section. The sessions were over all too soon for the participants who were all eager to continue riding. Talk of coming back to ride the full 8km mountain bike trail when it opens this summer ensued and so a new generation of mountain bikers is born.
For the rest of the day the groups saw Laura Trott (Elite level track and road cyclist and gold medal winning Olympian) who was there to support the official opening, delivering a speech on how the venue will be accessible to the local community and elite athletes alike. They also took the opportunity to look around the rest of the facility taking in the view from the BMX start ramp and the inside of the Velodrome. “Not a bad day out for a bunch of enthusiastic school cyclists.”
The Stratford VeloPark is now formally open and provides a great opportunity for schools and the public to try out one of four cycle disciplines including track, mountain bike, BMX and road. Check out the Lee Valley VeloPark website for details.
In the meantime think about what things you can do and offer to encourage cycling at your school.
Andy ( Bike It Officer)