Date: 10th November 2013
Location: Platt Fields BMX Track, Manchester
Cost: £12 each for one hour
Rules: BMX was first introduced into the Olympics in 2008. The competitions begin with a seeding phase where each rider runs the track once to determine the seedings, ensuring that the fastest riders don't meet before the final. The women progress straight to the semi-finals which have a three-run format. The top four riders in each progress to the final, where the winners are determined in one run. The women's track is 440m long and built with jumps, bumps and tightly banked corners.
London 2012 Gold: 0.37.07s, Mariana Pajon, Columbia.
Sarah: We dragged three friends to Manchester for a weekend of cycling terror; both in the velodrome and on the BMX track. I quickly realised that I was going to have to throw myself in to the BMX before I had the chance to over-think it, get scared and wimp out. And it seemed to work! It took a little while to get used to the tiny bike, but standing on the pedals quickly became normal, and by the end of the hour we were tearing round the circuit. The slopes and jumps are incredibly steep and you have to pedal like mad on the downward slopes to get the momentum to launch up the other side. Miraculously I didn't fall off, but the first time I tackled the starting ramp, I pedalled full-pelt and launched into the air from the first bump! Miraculously I didn't fall off, and it made me appreciate just how fast the pros are going when they fly between the jumps. It was loads of fun, and definitely one of the sports I'd love to do again.
Ellie: I can't fully explain how satisfying it was to make it round this crazy track without stopping or more importantly, falling over. Our instructors took us through the basics and then threw us into the full circuit and I think we could all have ridden for more than an hour. However, at one point when I was half way up a steep slope my shoe flew off and I was sure I'd had it! There is a lot to remember with BMX and like the velodrome, it's nothing like riding a normal bike. You can't coast, you can't sit down, you can't take a break. You just have to keep the momentum going and keep looking straight ahead. I think BMX gets some points for the safety equipment as it really gave me a feeling of confidence and authenticity - we looked awesome in those helmets!