At the time of writing, Gosling Velodrome has been unavailable for track cycling activities for more than a month. This has affected Racing (Friday evening Track League), and regular track training sessions are currently suspended. This open letter is intended to inform the cycling community of the background to this situation, and the ongoing efforts to resolve it.
The tarmac velodrome surface has been weathering and eroding over the last few years, and although still in use, the prospect was that over time it would continue to deteriorate. In August 2019 a surface treatment was applied (called “slurry-coating”), with the intention of sealing the surface and extending its life, hopefully for a further 10 years or more. Jointline were appointed as contractors and works were carried out using materials provided by specialist manufacturer Colas. Funding was obtained through grants from Sport England and fundraising from the local cycling community.
Within 6-12 months, it was clear that the slurry-coating was itself weathering and eroding, at a far faster rate than expected. Colas inspected the velodrome and acknowledged that the coating had not adhered to the surface as expected. Looking for an alternative sealing option, several test strips of a sealing material called Securechip was applied in May 2021. These appeared to be effective in sealing the surface. In early July 2023, contractors working on behalf of Colas applied this product (manufactured by Colas) across the entire velodrome.
The Securechip material should have set rapidly (4 hours). However, in the days following the treatment, the surface was still sticky. Still today, the surface in some areas has a tar-like consistency and has not fully solidified. Riding a bike around the current surface left this tar-like material on tyres. We are of the opinion that training and racing on the present surface would not be safe or sustainable.
Colas engineers have visited Gosling on several occasions during July and acknowledged deficiency.
In partnership with GLL, we are discussing with them possible options for removing the Securechip coating. However, this removal is an untested process because the machinery used is not designed for the angled banking. A contractor will visit the velodrome in the next 2 weeks and attempt a test removal, in a small area. We hope this will demonstrate whether the process will restore the velodrome to a usable riding surface. If the test is positive, timing for removal across the full velodrome will depend on contractor availability in subsequent weeks.
Given we are now nearly in August, the likelihood of restoring track racing and track training to Gosling in this season, is low, if not impossible. We are as disappointed by the situation as you all no doubt are.
In partnership with GLL, we are exploring all means to restore the velodrome to regular use, both for track and road bike training sessions.
In the meantime, we are working on plans to provide alternative training and riding opportunities including more club rides (both youth and adult), and off-road training. See welwynwheelers.org.uk/whats-on for information on which activities are suspended, and which continue. We will need your support in making a success of these sessions.
Understanding and support from members and friends of the club while we seek a resolution to this situation, is very much appreciated.
Chair, Welwyn Wheelers
31st July 2023