Like every cyclist in Scotland I’ve been ridiculously excited about the opening of the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome in Glasgow’s east end. Having scrambled for tickets to next year’s Revolution Series and the UCI World Cup I got my first chance to attend the new facility for the opening night of the Scottish Track Championships 2012 on Friday night.

The venue

Alongside the excitement, if I’m completely honest, has been a lingering disappointment that the building is so ugly from the outside and a fear that the inside would mirror the hangar like exterior. That was firmly wiped out on entering the arena for the first time!

The heat is probably the first thing that hits you, but it’s the scale of the place that leaves a lasting impression. The roof is high and the walls are visually featureless but rather than being dead space it allows the track to take centre stage and leaves clear sight lines from almost everywhere. There was only one thing I could complain about, and it’s not the fault of the venue – if you’re going to take photos make sure you take a fairly large lens. The lighting just wasn’t bright enough for my phone or point and shoot cameras, so apologies for the Instagram overload!

The races

Over the course of the night we’d be treated to the Junior Sprint, Women’s 500m Time Trial, Junior Madison and the Men’s Keirin. Even though this was my first track meet I was the “expert” in our group, which was a little bit daunting!

Junior Women’s Sprint

The night kicked off with the flying lap qualifying time trials for the junior women’s sprint. I arrived slightly too punctually, so didn’t realise until it was over that there were only two participants! Don’t get me wrong, they are both brilliant riders but it’s such a shame to see so few young girls lining up for the biggest event of the year.

Both girls were from Edinburgh clubs, something which would become a theme for the night. If Meadowbank can produce the talent that was on show on Friday night I genuinely can’t imagine what’s going to happen in Glasgow with such an amazing facility.

Katie Archibald (City of Edinburgh Racing Club) won the TT by half a second from Louise Borthwick of Edinburgh Road Club. Later in the evening Katie would go on to win two match sprints in a row to take the title and in the process earn her place as one of the stars of the evening. More about that later.

Louise Borthwick with Katie Archibald in her wheel

After the event I discovered that Katie had posted on the Braveheart Forum asking for other junior women to come forward to ensure that they could continue to hold events. It’s great to see someone with such passion (and talent) for their sport and if any young riders are reading this – get involved!

Women’s 500m Time Trial

This was something I was pretty excited at seeing. I’m always surprised, even now, how slow bike races look on tv. Be it helicopters following riders down an alpine descent or the cameras panning around a velodrome it’s often hard to comprehend how fast they’re actually moving. So I was really looking forward to seeing a sprint TT in the flesh. I wasn’t disappointed.

As Kirsty Howatson got us under way the geek in me was intrigued to see the differences in techniques and in equipment. Charline Joiner, after a false start, seemed to be turning a huge gear compared to the others and was flying by the finish. She didn’t look too happy at the end but I wasn’t sure if that was because of the time or the false start.

Women's 500m TT - Charline Joiner

Women’s 500m TT – Charline Joiner

With only three riders in this event not from an Edinburgh club (and Kayleigh Brogan won this year’s Scottish Road Race Championships riding for City of Edinburgh before being signed by Team Ibis Cycles) it was obviously going to take some effort to keep medals from travelling east.

In the end, Emma Baird from City of Edinburgh left with the gold after an amazing performance covering 500m from a standing start in only 37.3 seconds.  She was joined on the podium by Eleanor Richardson and Delhi Commonwealth Games silver medallist (with the aforementioned Charline Joiner) Jennifer Davis.

¬†Junior Men’s Sprint

Junior Men's Sprint - Andrew Leveton

Junior Men’s Sprint – Andrew Leveton

Junior Men's Sprint - Jonathan Mitchell

Junior Men’s Sprint – Jonathan Mitchell

Junior 20km Madison

Junior Madison hand sling

Men’s Keirin

Men's Keirin