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MCR: A History Of Cycling

David Boyd braves the velodrome to welcome the new Pedal Power exhibition to the MOSI

Written by . Published on July 22nd 2014.


MCR: A History Of Cycling
 

THE COUNTDOWN to the Olympics in Rio stood at 765 days, and I wanted to be there. On two wheels.

With results in and a time just over twenty seconds I was delighted to be informed that Olympic qualifying standard is only twenty seconds. Some Veet slapped onto my legs for aerodynamics should see me onto Team GB in no time.

The task was quite simple. Add my name to the list alongside Jason Queally, Reg Harris, Jason Kenny, Jack Sibbit and Bradley Wiggins to have brought an Olympic medal back to the North West.

The best place to start would be the Manchester Velodrome at Sportcity, Britain's 'gold medal factory'.

It's been twenty years since the National Cycling Centre opened in East Manchester as the home of British Cycling, but the affiliation between the city and the sport has been around for much longer.

As cycling's spring in popularity sees it overtake football as the third biggest participation sport in England (1st is swimming with nearly 3m participants, athletics (or jogging) is 2nd with 2m), how many keen cyclists in the region know of the original bone-shaker bicycle manufactured in Salford in 1868? How about Mancunian Olympic silver medallist Jack Sibbit who, when not winning Olympic races, was building early versions of the tandem bicycle?

This is where the Museum of Science and Industry steps in.

Penny Farthing Bicycle, Pedal PowerPenny Farthing Bicycle, Pedal Power

The MOSI's new Pedal Power exhibition (19 July 2014 to March 2015) brings together the history, the people and the technology of the sport to help explain how Manchester’s prowess in engineering led it to be at the forefront of early bicycle production.

The bone-shaker, tandem and original penny farthing bikes will sit alongside contemporary counterparts that have featured on the velodrome track over the last twenty years.

Original cycling medals and badges from the 1934 British Empire Games are also displayed alongside paraphernalia once owned and won by Britain’s first cycling superstar – the Bury born Reg Harris. As an amateur Harris won two Olympic silver medals, amazingly whilst recovering from two broken vertebrae. Did someone say: 'They don't make them like that anymore.'

There'll also be an interactive element to the exhibiton, allowing visitors to race on a stationary bike around a simulated track and take on some of the best in the sport.

Manchester VelodromeManchester Velodrome

Reg HarrisReg Harris

After hearing about all this historic success I headed to the Manchester Velodrome to try and replicate this track success, having a Manchester postcode I assumed I'd be a natural.

Stepping out into the centre of the velodrome, my faith began to wane as I stared up at the 42 degree track slope. It was hard not to imagine a fairground Wall of Death.

Add to the mix my feet strapped to a bike with no brakes or even gears and my knees began knocking. "Just keep peddling," advised Coach Bob Barber. "If not your bike will jolt you off and your face will meet hard wooden track." Cheers Bob.

To add to the pressure, Britain's greatest ever Olympian, Sir Chris Hoy, was stood filming trackside. I hoped that he was scouting for potential Olympians, but more likely he was set to release 'Hoy's Best Cycling Gaffs' DVD and needed some footage of amateurs cocking up.

One for 'Hoy's Best Cycling Gaffs'One for 'Hoy's Best Cycling Gaffs'

As nothing more than a keen commuter cyclist I had never had to contemplate keeping my speed up to ensure enough momentum to get around bends, but after a few confidence building warm-up laps we were allowed onto the higher reaches of the track.

Adrenaline flowing and legs pumping I soon had the lightweight track bike gliding around the track at a decent speed. No potholes to slow me down here. With warm legs, a touch of faith and dreams of Olympic glory it was time for a one lap race.

As Coach Bob reminded: “Jason Queally came for a taster session in 1996 just like you and won gold 4 years later, that could be you”. That was enough for me, I was off like a whippet with a rocket up its jacksie. 

With results in and a time just over twenty seconds I was delighted to be informed that Olympic qualifying standard is only twenty seconds. Some Veet slapped onto my legs for aerodynamics should see me onto Team GB in no time.

Then the bad news. The qualifying standard had to be from a stationary start. With dreams shattered and a Paul Gascoigne breakdown rising I rode off in search of a famous Texan to help me put together a sophisticated program of performance enhancement.

Pedal Power is part of the MOSI’s Imagine it, Make it, Move it summer season of events for all the family, and runs until MArch 2015.

Admission is FREE.

MOSI, Liverpool Road, Castlefield, M3 4FP. 0161 832 2244.

@voiceofmosi

MOSIMOSI

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Dorian JordanJuly 22nd 2014.

Great piece. Slower than Coady on a tennis court though.

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