Challenge: Day of activities in the Lee Valley Park
Details: Lee Valley is a 26 acre park packed full of awesome sports facilities open to the public. Some have been around for a while; others are a legacy of the Olympics. In the Lee Valley you’ll find: a 1 mile outdoor cycle circuit, an indoor velodrome track, a BMX track, a static bike studio, athletics, hockey, tennis, swimming, diving, white water activities, sailing, fishing, horse riding, golf…really anything and everything!
Where? The Lee Valley Park follows the River Lee, a natural river to the east of London. Activities are spread out along the Valley so check the exact venue before you go. Some are in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, accessed by train/ tube/ overground to Stratford.
Transport? Tube, train, cycle or car.
Time? Most activities are an hour long.
Bring? Suitable gear for the sport, ask when you book for more detail.
Food & drink? There are café facilities at all the venues. Number 90 Bar is a fun venue for some drinks afterwards.
Cost? Depends on activity but they are reasonably priced.
eXerK 52in52 story: I have found myself in the Lee Valley numerous times this year. The VeloPark duathlon, the Velodrome track session, a failed attempt to abseil the orbit, to watch the Six Day velodrome competition. On 12th December, I completed a trio: first a BMX taster session, followed by a horse riding lesson, then a swim in the Olympic Pool. A pretty cool day!
First up was the BMX taster session, an hour long introductory class perfect for a first timer. You are kitted out with a BMX bike (one of those mini bikes that you don’t sit down on), helmet and gloves and coached into taking on the full BMX track. As you hopefully know by now – my scaredy-catness was out in force. I was pretty confident that I wouldn’t be able to drop down the starting slope, nor bob up and over the massive mounds. Step by step you are taught the basics, building confidence on sections of the track. Within an hour, guess what, it was no problem going round the full track. Great fun, and a nice sized class. The BMX track is part of the VeloPark, next to the Velodrome – the taster session cost £15.
The second sport was horse riding. I rode as a kid but haven’t done much in the last 15 years. Having learnt informally, the 45 minute riding lesson was perfect to get me back on track. I rode a trusty steed called Cider, building up to a canter, riding stirrup-less to get me to connect through the saddle rather than rely on my legs too much and getting used to rising at the right point in the trot. Left the stables happy and more confident in my abilities, though wanting to learn more! The Lee Valley Riding Centre (E10 7QL) is a 10 minute drive from the VeloPark. A 45 minute private lesson cost £53. Group sessions are £29.50 for an hour.
Third and final for the day was a swim in the Olympic Pool. Designed like the inside of a whale, the London Aquatics Centre is impressive. Although I hope they’ve changed the water since 2012, it was fun to think that Phelps, Lochte and Missy Franklin had swum in the same pool. Next to the 50m heated pool, with spectator stands looking down on it is the diving pool. My swim got somewhat distracted by a The ESSA National Diving Championships training session that kicked off –100 kids – the Tom Daleys of the future – practicing all sorts of dives from the various diving boards. Run by Better.org.uk, the London Aquatics Centre is a public pool. Pay as you go is £5.20 at peak times, £4.95 off-peak.
I look forward to going back to the Lee Valley – on my list of to dos is a taster diving session and white water kayaking.