Simon Usborne: I survived rollercoaster ride against Jason Kenny

 

Share
Related Topics

What you don't appreciate when you watch the heroes of track cycling do their thing at the velodrome is just how steep the banks are. A few weeks after the British team's astonishing dominance in Beijing, I borrowed a bike to ride the Manchester track where it all began. Nothing's flat on those acres of Siberian pine, but when you approach the ends of the oval, the sides rear up to 45 degrees. Unless you fight your instincts and cycle faster, you risk falling off the track like a climber off a cliff.

I was being trained for the afternoon by Iain Dyer, Britain's sprint coach and the brains behind the blistering speed of Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton. My competitor for the day: Jason Kenny, with whom Hoy smashed the team sprint world record yesterday. Kenny was the young pretender then but has jumped ahead of Hoy to fly the flag in the solo sprint on Monday evening.

"The most important thing to remember," Dyer told me from the centre of the Manchester velodrome, "is never to stop pedalling." It became clear why as I followed Kenny on a few practice laps.

Track bikes have no gears or brakes and the pedals turn with the back wheel. You don't stop pedalling because you can't. The only way to slow down is to resist the turning of the wheels – or crash. "Where is he?" barked Dyer after one lap. I looked over my shoulder to find Kenny two inches off my tail, his face expressionless. Then he cruised in front before slowing. He edged me up the bank as I overtook again. "Go go go!" shouted Dyer.

I pushed as hard as I could into the final straight, splattering the track with sweat. Would this be the moment I beat the world's second-fastest cyclist?

No. As the line approached, Kenny stormed past to win by a tyre, barely out of breath. He reckoned we'd edged towards 30mph. On Monday, he will be doing more like 50mph. I'll be watching from my sofa in awe.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: Every privatised corner of the NHS would be taken back into public ownership

Philip Pullman
 

Errors & Omissions: Magna Carta, sexing bishops and ministerial aides

John Rentoul
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee