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Annual pilgrimage to melbourne

 



An annual outing for me is the World Cup Track meeting in Melbourne. Australia's round of the World Cup was held in Sydney a couple of times, but now it is in Melbourne I hope it stays put for a while. Melbourne is perfectly set up for this kind of thing. They have two indoor tracks, and the flash one where they hold big events is right down town. The velodrome in the HiSense Arena is a 10 minute stroll through river side parkland from Flinders St station, the absolute middle of the city. There is a regular tram for the weary or lazy, which comes in handy when it pisses down like it can almost any time in Melbourne.

The racing is spread over three days, with sessions in the afternoon and evening. I have to see all of it, so I only have mornings to roam the city, but some friends who were on hand came along in the evenings and spent the days soaking up Melbourne's vibe.

Track cycling is not everybody's cup of tea, but if there are top-class competitors and a crowd that knows what is going on, it can be very entertaining. Evening session grandstands were fairly full of vocal locals, who understand track racing and like to yell encouragement. The indoor venue makes any excitement feel more intense, so the atmosphere is great. In events where there were no home-grown riders the support went to anybody deserving of it, and of course if there was an Australian going well the racket was impressive. As I expected, my mountain biking mates who came along to see what I was on about are already planning next year's visit, as a short holiday for a bike nut of any stripe this one is a keeper.

An added bonus if you are feeling nationalistic is that right now New Zealand is one the better performing outfits on the track. Melbourne 09 was a standout meet for kiwis with winners, finalists and nobody in the New Zealand team looking out of their depth.