The official bike brand at London’s VeloPark is Condor. The shoe brand for track sessions is Lake. The hire helmets were supplied by Kas. The Go-Ride sessions were provided by you. Sort of. Bike Hub, the bike industry’s levy fund, is now the sponsor of British Cycling’s Go-Ride youth cycling programme. This could spot the next Sir Chris Hoy or the next Victoria Pendleton. One of those to have come through the Go-Ride ranks was Olympic gold medallist Laura Trott. She was at the official opening of the Velopark and BikeBiz asked her what she thought about the industry’s involvement with this “talent spotting" programme (that also happens to be a lot of fun for youngsters with no chance of ever podiuming).
Trott, a world champion, said:
"I initially took up the sport as a way to keep fit and started cycling at Welwyn Wheelers, a Go-Ride Club in north London. It quickly went from there and I eventually moved onto the Olympic talent programme.
"The Go-Ride programme is doing a brilliant job of harnessing the enthusiasm of young people and encouraging more youngsters to get involved. It really is going from strength to strength and it's unbelievable to hear about the increasing numbers of young riders putting power to the pedals.
"It's great to see the programme receiving support from the industry, which will only add to its success. We're in the midst of a really exciting year of cycling and it's fantastic that kids have a chance to be part of it at their local Go-Ride clubs."
She wants to see more kids getting in to cycling, which is the aim of the industry sponsorship, too.
“I love the freedom of cycling, the fresh air,” she said. “People forget how easy it is to get into cycling.”
Her Go-Ride background helped her become a better bike rider.
“At the time I didn’t like going over the little bridges, or the technical side of it. But, looking back, this sort of grounding helped me prepare for things like elimination races on the track where I go through little gaps, barging people out of the way. I wouldn’t have been as good at that if I hadn’t learnt bike handling skills at a really early age.”
Now she’s best known as a track rider but there was no velodrome close to her Go Ride club.
“I did BMX, mountain biking, all sorts, really. Go Ride gives you a taste of all the disciplines. When it came to choosing I think road and track chose me.”
Trott is very keen on using her new fame to get more people into cycling.
“I hate hearing all these statistics about kids being obese. It frustrates me,” she said. “It’s so easy to get out on a bike.”
She would like to see more investment in cycle infrastructure. “One of the reasons more people aren’t cycling is the lack of cycle infrastructure, for sure. People are scared. My mum used to be scared when I went out on the road. Funding for bike lanes is increasing and we have taken a massive step forward but there’s more to be done.”
Go-Ride youth training sessions are held at weekends and in school holidays at British Cycling affiliated clubs all over the country. The Bicycle Association started sponsoring Go-Ride in February.
“Industry support for Go-Ride is really important,” said Trott. “It makes a huge difference when the industry gets involved at the grass roots level.”
London’s £100m Velopark is the multi-discipline cycling venue converted from the velodrome and BMX track used in the London Olympics. New on the site are a five mile mountain bike course, that dips beneath the A12 and snakes around woodland, and an undulating one mile road circuit surfaced with butter smooth asphalt. The road circuit is also floodlit so will be usable at night and for “nocturne” races.
Laura Trott in one of the two official VeloPark ambassadors. The other is Paralympic champion Mark Colbourne. Derrick Ashley, chairman of the Lee Valley Park Regional Authority which operates the VeloPark, describes it as a “world class venue which has a community at heart.” There are forty Go-Ride clubs close to the VeloPark, and hundreds of schools. Lee Valley Regional Park Authority estimate that up to 500,000 people will visit the VeloPark each year.