Corporate sessions hogging track time at London's Olympic velodrome, say local cycling groups

Olympic legacy venue hard to use for riders it was supposed to benefit

by John Stevenson   March 3, 2014  

London Olympic velodrome (CC licensed image by nuttyxander:Flickr)

Representatives of local cycling groups say they can’t get access to the Lee Valley Velopark’s tracks because too much time is being allocated to companies running corporate events.

The Olympic legacy facility is due to be fully open to the public on March 31 and will offer a one-mile road circuit, mountain bike course, BMX track and the indoor velodrome that’s been nicknamed the Pringle thanks to its distinctive shape.

But according to Cycling Weekly, local cycling groups have been unable to book the facilities because of demand from companies offering corporate sessions.

Michael Humphreys, from the Eastway Users Group, told the Star: “It’s like we’d been campaigning to get a theatre built so your local amateur dramatics actors could get on stage but the people who were supposed to go on the stage don’t get a look-in.”

Three companies, FACE Partnership, Cavendish Group and Rampage Event Management/Velo Events, were selected to run track days at the park. Velo Events estimates it will be able to use the velodrome exclusively for four full days a month, while the Cavendish Group has obtained two full days a month and FACE Partnership expects to use rthe velodrome for one of two days per month.

Locals clubs claim that communication has been difficult with Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA), the body that runs the facility.

Bruce Mackie from Lee Valley Youth Cycle Club said: “It does seem to me that the demand will be from those who can foot the biggest bill.”

The LVRPA denied corporate clients were taking precedence over grassroots clubs.

A spokesman said: “Our programming includes 40% of clubs and schools sessions, 55% for the public and only 5% is allocated to corporate events.

“We have worked closely with local clubs and the cycling community as a whole to ensure a well-balanced programme, which is unbiased and fair for all.

“Yes, we have corporate clients and events, however the money earned from these clients is put back into the venue.”

The first major event to be hosted at the velodrome will be the final the FACE Partnership’s Revolution track series on March 14-15. Olympic track champions Laura Trott, Jason Kenny and Ed Clancy will all race along with current National Road Race champion and Olympic silver medalist Lizzie Armitstead.

The following month, the venue will host the Bespoked handmade bicycle show, which moves for from Bristol for 2014 and takes place over the weekend of April 11-13.

19 user comments

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Bespoked should have stayed in Bristol. It's stupid to think that a bike show will stop the use of the track by cyclists. Double fail

posted by paulrbarnard [182 posts]
3rd March 2014 - 12:49

21 Likes

Event Management/Velo Events, were selected to run track days at the park. Velo Events estimates it will be able to use the velodrome exclusively for four full days a month, while the Cavendish Group has obtained two full days a month.

Unless I'm missing something, that's 20%, not 5%.

Saying that, in my communications with them, they've been helpful and replied promptly. I know they're only granting clubs one go each at the moment but hopefully that will change.

Training is like fighting a gorilla. I've never got around to that either.

posted by SteppenHerring [295 posts]
3rd March 2014 - 12:54

18 Likes

its claim and counterclaim at the moment.

If we assume the third corp organiser averages the same as the other two, that's a total of 9 days a month - i.e. about 30%. So that is a lot more than the 5% allocated for corp events, but still leaves 70%... sounds like quite a bit of time must still be available to everyone else?

And unless I misunderstand, its not even fully open until the end of the month, so i should think it might be difficult to get access at the moment.

posted by edster99 [302 posts]
3rd March 2014 - 12:56

16 Likes

It's a similar situation as Manchester, if you want to do the taster sessions you have to book a session ages in advance and I don't think there is currently a weekend session available for several months.

This is down to the sheer popularity of them, so could possibly this be the case here? And because local people aren't able to get on they blame it all on "The Corporates"?

posted by farrell [1908 posts]
3rd March 2014 - 13:15

22 Likes

Here in Manchester we have it worse. We cant get on the bloody track because there are some mysterious corporate lot called 'Team GB' (sounds made up to me) hogging the track most days.
I have even been thrown off *my* track because apparently they have to 'train' or something.
Ive never even heard of this Team GB - is it a bank or something?

posted by Some Fella [904 posts]
3rd March 2014 - 13:30

27 Likes

Read that, it reads like every other kind of track in this country, motor racing tracks, motor cycle tracks, karting tracks.

They are all booked by corporates because that is where the best money comes from. It is simple maths. It is not just this one velodrome that is effected.

Look at what happened with the Silverstone 24hr cycling event. I cannot go into detail, but it was down to costs wanted by the track.

It will be the same here, they are trying to recoup money quickly, which will limit locals and grassroots from using the venue.

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9355 posts]
3rd March 2014 - 13:33

18 Likes

Some Fella wrote:
Here in Manchester we have it worse. We cant get on the bloody track because there are some mysterious corporate lot called 'Team GB' (sounds made up to me) hogging the track most days.
I have even been thrown off *my* track because apparently they have to 'train' or something.
Ive never even heard of this Team GB - is it a bank or something?

Judging by the vans outside the velodrome I think they are some sort of satellite dish repair company.

posted by farrell [1908 posts]
3rd March 2014 - 13:37

26 Likes

Some Fella wrote:
Here in Manchester we have it worse. We cant get on the bloody track because there are some mysterious corporate lot called 'Team GB' (sounds made up to me) hogging the track most days.
I have even been thrown off *my* track because apparently they have to 'train' or something.
Ive never even heard of this Team GB - is it a bank or something?

Dunno, but their cycle-commuters aren't half quick!

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3704 posts]
3rd March 2014 - 14:18

14 Likes

Am i right in thinking that at Newport you dont even have to book?
You can just tip up and ride the track until your head falls off?

Probably quicker and easier for all you London Cock-er- nee sparras to drive to Newport for the day and ride your hipster trackbikes until your hearts content and leave the velodrome you all help to pay for to the bankers and hedge fund managers.

posted by Some Fella [904 posts]
3rd March 2014 - 14:33

16 Likes

Some Fella wrote:
Am i right in thinking that at Newport you dont even have to book?
You can just tip up and ride the track until your head falls off?

Others will know better, I had to wait c6months to get a beginner session. then a further 6 months till they were running an improver, and even longer to get accreditation.

I know the club has booked a session in a few weeks and that was booked months ago.

I think if you can find a space you can turn up, but not to everything, there are also Vet only sessions, etc. Best bet I believe is via Facebook and see if anyone has a space you could use.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1859 posts]
3rd March 2014 - 14:35

13 Likes

key conclusion: we need more velodromes, preferably indoor.

posted by Al__S [872 posts]
3rd March 2014 - 16:27

27 Likes

A story originating from the Daily Star!
Rearrange these words into a popular phrase or saying; bottom, the, barrel, the, of, scraping...

posted by pwake [362 posts]
3rd March 2014 - 18:54

10 Likes

Same happened at Manchester, then Glasgow, OK London is a slightly larger village, but it's got by with a Herne Hill up until now, where are all these new users coming from!?

Glasgow has calmed down a bit now, with more spaces available than the initial mad rush, but as with all the big velodromes, they regularly close for competitions.

Unlike London, Glasgow opened 18months before the Games and hopefully won't be shut for 18 months after like London!

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [856 posts]
3rd March 2014 - 19:28

16 Likes

Flying Scot wrote:

Unlike London, Glasgow opened 18months before the Games and hopefully won't be shut for 18 months after like London!

Yes - why *exactly* was it closed for 18 months?
As far as i know it didnt need any major Aquatics Centre like conversion to 'legacy mode'.

posted by Some Fella [904 posts]
3rd March 2014 - 19:51

21 Likes

Quote:
Yes - why *exactly* was it closed for 18 months?
As far as i know it didnt need any major Aquatics Centre like conversion to 'legacy mode'.

Because the entire Olympic Park was being remodelled. All the temporary buildings taken out, a road circuit being built, access roads and parking for the velodrome, the BMX track being totally rebuilt not to mention the work inside the velodrome to remove all the Olympics branding and some of the extraneous infrastructure.

Then they need to get the staff, the hire bikes etc all in place, sort out the contracts, the programme of events, open sessions, club sessions, corporate sessions and put in place an accreditation system for new riders to build a pool of people so that you can actually hold some club racing there.

It's really not a case of having the closing ceremony then throwing the doors open a week later saying "come on in and ride the track!"

posted by crazy-legs [649 posts]
3rd March 2014 - 21:02

12 Likes

Gkam84 wrote:
Read that, it reads like every other kind of track in this country, motor racing tracks, motor cycle tracks, karting tracks.

They are all booked by corporates because that is where the best money comes from. It is simple maths. It is not just this one velodrome that is effected.

Look at what happened with the Silverstone 24hr cycling event. I cannot go into detail, but it was down to costs wanted by the track.

It will be the same here, they are trying to recoup money quickly, which will limit locals and grassroots from using the venue.

A massive fraud - allegedly - instigated by the organiser more like - silverstone circuit never saw a penny!

gb901's picture

posted by gb901 [172 posts]
4th March 2014 - 0:48

13 Likes

Clubs get priority for obvious reasons: disclipline, block bookings, repeat visits after compulsory accreditation, etc. Just join one. And we can all feel hard done by: east London clubs get priority over west London clubs. The real problem is changing your cleats to Look Keos, which the hire bikes use - who uses those!?

posted by deblemund [250 posts]
4th March 2014 - 10:20

10 Likes

On the sunday my club has a session on during Bespoked. Its good to see they are fully utilising the facility at weekends. Really looking forward to it!

tommyjz's picture

posted by tommyjz [12 posts]
4th March 2014 - 11:03

7 Likes

tommyjz wrote:
On the sunday my club has a session on during Bespoked. Its good to see they are fully utilising the facility at weekends. Really looking forward to it!

Wonder if any of the exhibitors would let you take a track bike from their display for a few laps?

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1859 posts]
4th March 2014 - 15:23

6 Likes