Women’s Commission Race at Manchester Velodrome

The Women’s Commission organised two days of training and racing at the world famous Manchester Velodrome last weekend (January 7th / 8th) .

The trip was aimed at all levels , with the aim of giving Elite riders a rare chance for private track access in Manchester , and new riders a crash course from zero to racing a league night on the boards.

Finally (Manchester is booked up from early am to closing months in advance) we were able to confirm three sessions of private Track hire , culminating in a race night in the ACT Track League (Run by the legendary Neil Orrell).

Bob Barber (Former Velodrome Manager ) agreed to coach our group – and we were off.

We had a strong group on Day 1 at 8am.  World Class Irish International Robyn Stewart set an example by arriving an hour early to warm up , and then took time out to include Junior rider Orla Harrison in her sprint efforts.

Ciara Ni Fhlathartaigh and Lynsdey Bryce were riding indoors for the first time , however Bobs coaching style had them joining the main group session after only a few mins.

Experienced Irish Track Riders Sofie Loscher , Róisín Kennedy & Irish Talent ID Rider Claire Ní Reachtagain insured that the training sessions were kept at a high tempo – with not a min lost.

On day 2 – After two hard training sessions with Bob , the women prepared for a long night of racing (7.30 to 10pm). Tony Orrell (ACT Track Lge / Torelli Racing) had arrived early Monday to help get our riders ready for the night ahead.

The ACT track lge welcomes all levels , it is fast and furious indoor racing with even the youngest competitors showing track craft that some Internationals could aspire to .

Claire & Ellen got podium places for us on the night , Junior rider Orla Harrison put in an impressive attacking performance ,  Lyndsey & Ciara went from zero to racing at this level in only two days.

Our next UK trip will be announced soon – where we will be hoping to add more racing to the weekend .


Ellen McDermott (Bronze In Irish National RR Championships 2017) joined the group for Day 2 of training & racing – Read Her Rider Report Below:


The funny thing about being Irish living in the UK is that I’ve never trained with a full Irish squad team or club. In fact I’ve only ever raced once against a fully Irish field. that was the National Championship Road Race back in June, got me a medal ’n’ all! I can’t count the Rás na mBan as that’s been a full international field every year I’ve raced it.

So when I saw the call from the Women’s Commission of Ireland inviting female riders to a weekend of training and racing at Manchester Velodrome I signed up straight away. And so did a group of lassies from across the pond from various backgrounds and abilities on the track. Orla Harrison, Claire Ní Reachtagain, Lynsdey Bryce, Sofie Loscher, Ciara Ní Fhlathartaigh.

Since my move to North Yorkshire and return to full time employment I have been struggling to get track time.

Even though I’ve ridden the Revolutions this year it’s been supremely rubbish not having a velodrome at my doorstep like when I lived in Glasgow. While I was there I was on Scottish Cycling’s Development program and have learned as much as I know from that time.

This weekend entailed 4 hours of coached track time thanks to Bob Barber with the ever helpful Tony Orrell at hand – And then concluded in another few hours of Track racing on the Monday evening … And all with a full squadron of Irish females managed by Roisín Kennedy and Brendan Whelan of the Women’s Commission.

I have to take my hat off to them all for arranging such a jam packed schedule. A crash course in track racing followed up by actual racing, ideal!

We covered everything in training, stacked drills, standing starts flying time trials, practice eliminations, all without any drama! Couple of hours of a break (and a minor drama with a ticket machine) we were back for the evenings racing at the ACT Track League.

Even though most of them had himmed and hawwed over getting involved in the league, every one of them managed to start all four races on offer albeit with tired legs and exhausted heads!

The amazing thing about the ACT league is that they have a women’s only group, and a full one at that.

First up was a straight up scratch race, and there goes Orla launching off the bunch a lap and a half to go and catches everybody unawares. Including me unfortunately and had my work cut out to get around as many people as I could to pick up 2nd place.

Next up was a race I’d never done before, the Course du Primes where the first person across the line get a point each lap. Simple… if you can count! Turns out I can’t and missed out again on 1st place.

The elimination has never been my forte and trying to explain who best to ride it is even harder. Somehow though I managed to pull of a perfect ride and surprised even myself to come away with the win. Chapeau to Lydnsey though who was riding beautifully in the bunch for a lot of it.

Last stop was the Points race, many tired legs but the best attitude to a long day riding meant aggressive riding from the gun.

Claire and Sophie put in an early attack and working together scooped up some sprint lap points. I joined them for a brief spell but we were drawn back into the bunch. So off I went on my own and tallied up my second win of the night. Hurrah!

So grins all around, some really impressive riding from girls who’ve had minimal experience of this kind of bunch racing and I don’t doubt they’ll be back for more.

I’ll be waiting patiently.

Huge thanks to Roisín and Brendan for taking care of things and for the opportunity. And be god Cycling Ireland, you haven’t heard the last from me!

Photos from Gary Lake Photography.