On Thursday 19th October, 47 members set off to Manchester. We had a slightly late start due to traffic congestion around the City, but our superb driver, Chris, got us to the Etihad in time for our 11.30 tour. This took over 90 minutes, and we sat in the heated seats, saw the home and away changing rooms, the showers and hydrotherapy pool, and went pitch side through the tunnel, and stood near the dug-outs.
We learnt about the history of this amazing stadium, from its beginnings as the venue for the 17th Commonwealth Games (attended by the queen in her Golden Jubilee year), to how it was converted into the great venue it is today. We were also made aware that Pep Guardiola’s daughter was at the Ariana Grande concert, and he has a poem printed on one of the walls that was written for the memorial service.
We also learnt that our driver was one of the Acklams’ coach drivers from Hull that evening.
The weather, in true Manchester style, turned very wet, so we got back onto the coach for our packed lunches earlier than planned, and made our way – literally across the road – to the National Cycling Centre.
After coffee etc, we were split into two groups for our tour.
Housing one of the two largest indoor BMX tracks in Europe, we watched youngsters from local schools training, and our tour guide himself was a BMX racing member in the past, and very knowledgeable. The centre was built in a very deprived area, and has round it, an outdoor BMX track that can be used by the public, with free sessions – including bikes and protective clothing.
Then to the Velodrome – this was a fantastic experience – nothing like seeing it on the television.
The GB men were over in Germany, but we watched the ladies training, and the tandems with partially sighted members at the rear.
I think that most of our members had a great day. It took us over three hours to get back, the weather was horrendous and the traffic very heavy, but our driver made two detours to successfully get us out of the hold-ups.