South London’s iconic track cycling venue experienced a first last Friday: trike cyclists, handcyclists, side-by-side tandem cyclists, enjoying the thrill of cycling at the Velodrome!
This was made possible by British Cycling’s re-surfacing of the banked track, last August, which included the addition of a 3.6m wide, flat strip, enabling others than 2 wheeler race-cyclists to ride at Herne Hill.
Most cyclists attending were discovering the Velodrome for the very first time. The event was organised by charity Wheels for Wellbeing, the charity works to remove all barriers to cycling for anyone who thinks they can’t (or can no longer) cycle. Isabelle Clement (Manager of Wheels for Wellbeing) said, “this was a trial session, to gauge the response of our regular participants. I’ve been confident our riders would love cycling on the track but the approaches to it are not perfect for access yet. We had a lot of volunteers on hand to help mitigate this aspect. For the long term, we will work with the Velodrome to ensure that disabled access is built into their future plans”.
Overall, people were very positive on the day though the distance from the nearest bus stop was an issue for some. Iman Saab (pictured), a former wheelchair racer commented, “I love cycling here! This is a proper workout; I really feel my muscles are doing some real work! This place is a wonderful site. I didn’t know it was here”. John Turnbull, a long standing member of Anerley CC recently needed to re-learn to cycle with Wheels for Wellbeing’s support, following an attack of shingles (which had left his legs paralysed initially). He was thrilled to be back at Herne Hill: “As a young cyclist I watched racing at Herne Hill in the 1950’s. It was quite exciting riding on the newly surfaced track. Nice smooth surface, enthusiastic helpers, from my point of view it’s perfect. I couldn’t wish for anything better”.
Wheels for Wellbeing has been working with the Velodrome over the last 18 months to ensure that, as investment starts flowing to renovate the site, disabled, younger and older cyclists are factored into all the infrastructure changes. Charmian Hornsby, a Herne Hill Velodrome Trust Board member who volunteered to help on Friday said, “It is wonderful to see how much difference the new flat track extension makes; the Trust is very keen to see new people cycle at the track. Wheels for Wellbeing’s participants are very welcome here”.
Wheels for Wellbeing’s Friday sessions generally run at the All Weather Pitch, above the Lido, in Brockwell Park. These will restart this week but the WfW team will continue to work with the Herne Hill Velodrome to turn this one off Velodrome session into a regular feature.
To find out more about Wheel for Wellbeing’s cycling sessions or any of its work, go to www.wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk, or find them on Facebook and Twitter (@wfwnews).
To support and donate to the charity please click here: www.justgiving.com/wheelsforwellbeing
About Wheels for Wellbeing
Wheels for Wellbeing is a charity which works to remove all barriers to cycling for anyone who thinks they can’t (or can no longer) cycle. We want people to be able to cycle safely on the road and enjoy social inclusion, health and environmental benefits on a daily basis. For people for whom cycling in a park is more appropriate, or who need to borrow 3 or 4 wheeler cycles, our emphasis is on running regular sessions so they too can enjoy cycling with their family and friends and benefit from regular exercise & fresh air. We also provide advice to individuals, groups and policy makers, and campaign for improvements which can reduce the barriers to disabled people cycling.
Wheels for Wellbeing was established in 2007. We run weekly sessions at Croydon Sports Arena and in Brockwell Park in Lambeth. We are actively seeking to establish sessions in other London boroughs and we work closely with similar projects elsewhere in the UK.
Wheels for Wellbeing currently receives funding from the Big Lottery Fund. It also needs to raise funds from private and corporate donations for much of its work.
About the Herne Hill Velodrome
Herne Hill Velodrome is the last remaining finals venue from the 1948 Olympic Games that is still in active use. It was given a new lease of life in 2011 after British Cycling invested in a programme of track refurbishment which included a complete resurfacing.
The Herne Hill Velodrome Trust is a charitable organisation (Charity Commission number 1140128) established in 2011 to lead the refurbishment and renewal of the Herne Hill Velodrome site for current and future generations of cyclists.
For more information on the velodrome visit www.hernehillvelodrome.com.