The first thing I notice is the lack of brakes.

As someone who burns through bike parts faster than Victoria Beckham changes designer handbags, I fear this does not bode well.

But such concerns pale into trifling insignificance when I get my first glimpse of the sweeping, banked curves of the velodrome. It's big. And steep. I feel like I'm standing on the bow of the Titanic looking up as an iceberg looms towards me.

I have a flash of Evel Knievel whizzing in circles on a fairground wall of death. I hear a burst of laughter. I realise it's me.

With only days to go until the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome opens to the public, I've been given a sneak preview and the opportunity to be among the first people to have a quick spin around the boards.

Thankfully I'm in safe hands. Jake Lovatt, cycling development officer at Glasgow Life, is the reassuring voice of experience as I take my fledgling pedal strokes into the world of track cycling.

As a cycling super geek, stepping inside the velodrome is like entering my spiritual home. Rows of shiny new Dolan track bikes are lined up beside stacks of cycling shoes and helmets.

I run a finger along the sleek black frames, taking a heady sniff of the box-fresh shoes and never-been-worn helmets. It's like waking up on Christmas morning and discovering Santa Claus has delivered everyone's presents to me. If I won the Lotto my dream house would look like this.

After getting kitted out there's the small matter of mastering the mechanics of a track bike. As I've already cottoned on there are no brakes and the fixed-gear ratio means the pedals will always be turning – whether my legs want them to be or not.

As a child, lack of brakes was never a problem. I simply scuffed the toes of my shoes along the road until my bike slowed to enough of a gentle amble to hop off.

It transpires that this is not recommended procedure on a multi-million pound velodrome where the sleek wooden surface has been hand-built from individually selected Siberian pine trees. Nor when said velodrome's namesake – the iconic Sir Chris Hoy – is in the building and intending to do a spot of training on the very same boards later that morning. Leaving the surface more pitted than the acne-scarred skin of a Bond villain would not do.

But stopping, I'm reassured by Lovatt, is easy once you get the knack. As I slow down my pedalling, he explains, the bike will naturally come to almost a complete stop.

First I practise on the flat, doing a few wobbly figures of eight through the centre of the velodrome, initially about as steady as the cast of TOWIE after a night on the lash.

As I get the hang of it, I progress to the track itself. Oh - My - God - It looks even steeper up close, the banked sections at either end towering four-and-a-half metres at a stomach-flipping 44-degree angle, specifically designed to make it among the fastest velodromes in the world.

I feel like Eddie the Eagle looking down the icy barrel of a ski jump. Or John Prescott contemplating a belly flop off the high diving board. It doesn't seem natural.

Lovatt explains some basics about speed and centrifugal force. All I hear is: don't stop pedalling. With a quick knock on wood – there's plenty around – I take a deep breath and try to channel my inner Victoria Pendleton. My heart is thudding, sweat pooling ominously under my arms.

Lovatt holds the bike steady and I hop on. Pushing on the pedals, I ease myself forward. I'm not brave enough to head up the banking and trundle slowly towards Scottish Cycling coach and development officer, Craig McCulloch, who has been tasked with catching me should mishap occur. As I glide to a stop I realise I'm grinning. My nerves have evaporated.

Enough of the flat, I'm getting on the track. I progress to riding along the thick blue band (called the "cote d'azur") at the base. Confidence soaring, I tell Lovatt I want to head higher up between the black "datum" and red "sprinter" lines.

"OK, go, push harder," he shouts as I dig deep with my legs to pedal up the incline. I speed along and despite the sweltering heat of the velodrome feel goosebumps prick my skin. It's exhilarating.

I come to a stop and immediately prepare to go again. I realise I'm hooked. That night I dream about whizzing round the track.

Forget swimming with dolphins or trekking Machu Picchu, if you have a bucket list get riding the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome on there. You won't regret it.

susan swarbrick

What to wear on the track

Shoes: Trainers or cycling shoes – although the latter is only recommended if you can ride using clipless pedals. If you are wearing your own cycling shoes they must be compatible with Look Keo-type pedals. SPD-style shoes, like those used on most spin bikes, will not fit.

Helmet: In competitive cycling aerodynamics come into play. A helmet needs to be as streamlined as possible to capitalise on each thousandth of a second.

Guide to a track bike

Frame: A track bike is lighter than your average road bike. Sir Chris Hoy's tips the scales at around 7kg. The frame is narrow to ensure aerodynamic lines and reduce air resistance.

Handlebars: There are two types: drop bars (pictured) which you hold on to, enabling leverage to build momentum; and skis, which face forward. Riders rest their elbows and hands on these to tuck into an aerodynamic position.

Wheels: The world's top riders plump for carbon fibre disc wheels. The pressure in the tyres is kept high as a velodrome track is completely smooth with no bumps or ruts.

Gears and brakes: There are no gears or brakes. Each bike is set in one position, typically towards the top end of the biggest gears you would get on a road bike. This means pushing hard on the pedals initially to get the momentum going. To stop requires pedalling slower until bike and rider reach a gradual halt.

n The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome is open to the public. Visit and