Manchester’s National Cycling Centre is cultivating a ‘production line of success’ according to its velodrome manager.
Bob Barber, the former competition director at British Cycling, is proud of the centre’s success in helping top riders and its role in the community, hosting events and activities for riders and visitors of all ages and ability levels.
He believes it provides not only a positive influence in the community, but also inspiration for youngsters who pass through it.
“Everyone can see the progression path from a beginner to being at the top step of the Olympic podium,” he said.
“A lot of these elite riders are locals. Jason Kenny and Stephen Burke are local lads and would have come here as nine-year-olds.
“In terms of track cycling participation, we haven’t had the local turn up results we had been hoping for, but we have got them into the centre through other means.”
Video of MM’s Ben Pringle discussing the future of British cycling with Bob Barber:
The centre, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, boasts one of the world’s finest and fastest Olympic cycling tracks, an international standard BMX track and mountain bike trails for riders of all levels of ability.
It has held the UCI World Track Cycling Championships three times, eleven seasons of the mixed discipline Revolution cycling series and most prestigiously of all, the Commonwealth Games in 2002.
But the National Cycling Centre also operates at a grassroots level, offering taster sessions for learners, youth projects, and recreational opportunities for young and old alike.
One such project is Urban Expression, a Saturday evening youth club that engages local youngsters through skateboarding, graffiti art and music projects – and moreover provides an environment in which young people can develop.
“[Champion British Bicycle Motocross racer] Shanaze Reade is something of an icon in that respect,” Bob added.
“She came from the back streets of Crewe, overcame adversity and became three-time world champion.
“One day they [young riders] may be inspired to become a BMX Champion.”
The centre also hosts the BMX Supercross World Cup in April, where it will welcome more than a hundred of the world’s best riders.
And BMX community supervisor Nicola Anderson is thrilled about what it might mean for the centre and for Manchester.
She said: “It’s an exciting time for the centre. We have all of the best foreign riders from around the world coming over.
“They have track sessions where members of the public can come in and see them training, as well as all the others things we have going on day-to-day in the centre.
“It’s massive for the centre, and massive for the city.”
Image courtesy of John the Scone, with thanks.