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.
Mark Colbourne - UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships Los Angeles, USA - ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
Today saw Mark racing in the 1km Time Trial, after he managed to take his first ever Para-Cycling World Championship Gold in his first International track competition! As a track debutant, Mark had to go off as one of the first riders with 10 more riders to come after his heat. Motivated by yesterday’s success, Mark rode a very controlled and fast kilometer finishing in a time of 1:19.380, only 1.163 seconds off the current WR time and good enough to take the lead at that point. However, the race still was not over and Mark had to watch his competitors trying to beat his
time whilst warming down in track center. With only the defending Champion and WR holder Rodrigo Fernand Lopez (ARG) to go, Mark was still in the lead and guaranteed a Silver medal. Lopez started his time trial almost a second faster than Mark in lap one, but as he continued his race Lopez’s lead started to decrease more and more. In the end, he crossed the line in a time of 1:19.102, only .278 ahead of Mark who had to settle for Silver.
Mark Silver Medal - ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
After the race Mark said “I felt very confident and mentally ready after the Gold medal win yesterday, even though my legs felt slightly heavy when I was warming up. This only was my second kilo in 4 months so I am really happy to be quite close to the WR, especially as I rode a 5 second PB. I got into a nice rhythm straight from the start but after 2 tough rides yesterday, my legs tightened up in the last lap.”
After the Para-Cycling Track World Championships, Mark will now focus on his preparations for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Mark said “We have learned a lot from these World Championships and will now work on the bits we need to improve for London. We will be doing a lot of work on the road in the build up to the Games as the Road Time Trial is one of my main targets as well as the 3km Pursuit and the Kilo.”
I have been a bit lax on the blogging front over the past few weeks. I’ve been busy sorting things out with my new team Rapha Condor Sharp, and also getting some important base training done. I’ve been mainly tackling the cold and usually wet Sussex road by myself. I had a spell of 2-3 weeks where I was doing 4-5 hour spins on a regular basis. I backed off just before Christmas when I was starting to feel tired. I then had an easy week between Christmas and New Year to properly recharge the batteries before tackling the second and final part of the Winter.
Since going up to the Claremont Hospital in Sheffield with the team I have found out that I am deficient in both Iron and Vitamin D. So I am now on the correct supplements to set this right – this highlights how important having a partner like Claremont is to the team. Even more so when one of my team mates broke his collar-bone and he was able to be checked and have surgery within a week of the accident.
Christmas and New Year for me was very relaxed. I stayed at home and enjoyed some good food, some bad telly and some very steady road rides. I’ve also had Camille and Tom Southam – our team photographer and press officer– come down to the house for interviews and photographs. On a second visit I was chasing Camille on his motorbike (hooked up with cameras) around Beachy Head in horrific conditions. Again, the team have been so efficient getting all of this done already! Plus, the press/journalism side is something that also interests me quite a lot.
As I’m writing this I’m sat on a plane with my team-mate Oliver Rossi flying over to Lanzarote for our first team training camp. The rest of the team would have already landed and probably won’t be far from the hotel at this point. I’ve been looking forward to this camp for a while and can’t wait to get out on the road with my new team mates. The Spanish sun and 22+ degrees temperature will also be a nice bonus. I’m not sure yet what the plan is training wise but I’ve heard mention of; race radios, lead out practice and coffee – so I’m a happy boy!
My first race with the team will be the Tour of Taiwan mid-March. The team’s position in the race was looking doubtful but we had a nice surprise a few weeks ago when we received an entry. After doing some research on the race and looking at picture from the past few years it looks like a pretty big event! It’ll be the biggest race I’ll have competed in anyway. There was a prologue TT last year – 2km = 1 lap of the crit course – but it appears to have been removed for this year’s edition, which is a bit of a disappointment, but then again I won’t be short of things to be thinking about with seven stages! There’s a good mix of hard hilly courses, a couple of sprint stages and a 60km crit on the final day. The team has had success in the past few years it has done it, so let’s hope we can replicate it this year.
In other English related news; I got to meet Edith Bowman from BBC Radio 1 whilst we were both working at an event at the Olympic Velodrome! I even got my name mentioned on her next show – this had me very happy for a 24 hours! I also got to meet the ‘voice over guy’ from the X Factor, Pete Dickson. Family wise, my Sister [Kimberley] finished her cross season on Saturday taking a top 10 in the National Cross Championships. She’s been training hard over the past months with the British Cycling Talent Team – there may be some conflicts this year in the household with myself riding for Ireland and my little Sister riding for GB. My Dad is in training for the Wicklow 200 this year. It’s a 200km sportif over some pretty savage terrain. All I know is my Dad was out on the bike this morning at 8am for a planned 100 mile spin!! At least there’s 1 athlete in the house…
I’ll leave it at that for now as my battery is starting to die, and I quite fancy shutting my eyes for 20 minutes before we land. I will do my best to do a couple of updates whilst I’m out in Lanzarote.
Thanks for reading, hope you had a good New Year,
Tom Murray - Image © Anna Magrath Cycling Shorts.
This winter I set off to the Gent, Six days full of enthusiasm and excitement, its somewhere I have great memories off, somewhere I have passed down many a story about to my friends, family and anyone else who would listen. But there is a problem, a worry stuck in my head I think the world needs to know, but first I better tell you why I qualify to worry about the six days.
The Kuipke track has always been close to my heart, in truth it’s the whole reason I got to ride a bike for a living. As a young kid my parents took me across to Gent to watch the six day with Ben Swift I remember us both sitting there staring in amazement as the six day rolled on and on into the early hours of the night and the party in the middle of the track got more and more wild and out of hand. I made a decision there and then that I wanted to ride the six days, I wanted a piece of that atmosphere to be part of the whole circus, it felt a lot more than just a bike race is was entertaining and a real show.
The thought of riding at Kuipke in the six days didn’t leave me and a few years later I moved to Gent to live with a Belgian family in the heart of cycling land. Riding for the Kingsnorth International team I spent three years riding on the kermis circuit out in Belgium, a great experience. One that taught me how to be a racing cyclist in truth and in 2007 I was finally lucky enough to get an invitation to ride the Noel Fore Memorial event on the Kuipke track. It had taken some getting there but I had made it onto the track in Gent. Even better was that after a good performance riding with Peter Williams against mostly national squads we received an invitation to the UIV amateur six days of Gent. It was the best news ever; I was to be involved in some small way in the six days! I remember the six nights well, it was hard, a real learning experience, some nights went well others went awful but it didn’t really matter I was part of the six day show, full of adrenaline and excitement.
After that first amateur six day, over the next three years I was lucky enough to ride twice more in Gent and once in Amsterdam, Dortmund and in between took in International events in Alkmaar, Munich and on the new Eddy Merckx track in Gent. Every event was a new experience, a new place, different people a proper adventure, you didn’t always know how you would get from place to place. Once along with Tom Smith I was stuffed in the back of Iljo Keisse’s car along with his huge number six flower after been left stranded in Amsterdam! But that was all part of been immersed in the six day circuit. Although I never got to step up to the professional six day circuit I am happy that for a small while I was part of it, even if that part was pretty small.
So what’s my problem? Well, the atmosphere at Gent this year was pretty subdued, the showmen or orchestrator of the sixes seemed to have disappeared (granted Keisse who is probably the current star of the sixes wasn’t able to take part) and the crowd seemed more interested in the bar than the track. My theory on the reason for this is the changing face of track racing, something that was once fairly individual that didn’t rely on you been in a big backed trade team or part of a national set up now seems to be exactly that. Add to this the exclusion of the Madison from the Olympic Games and it seems like while track racing is becoming universally more popular and important the six days is not been pulled along with it.
In my last year of riding the amateur six days it became more difficult to gain an entry as a result of not been the ‘national’ selection of your country, it had changed from riders who had done it off their own backs, who wanted to be there and be part of it, people who travelled in the back of transit vans from event to event all to be part of the six day circus to deadly serious national selections who the majority of the time while respecting the events were gearing up for bigger and better things on an international stage. This year when I went back and saw the UIV amateur six it was exclusively national selection teams, that’s not that there’s a problem with those riders I’m sure they want to be there and enjoy the experience but in reality there going to move on from the six day circuit to focus on World Championships, Olympic Disciplines or a road career, leaving little for the professional six day circuit to pick from when they look for new riders.
I think that’s the problem, while as the sport gains in popularity the professional six day’s may have to come in line with new format’s that interest a wider audience but the amateur six days should always allow entries from those who have their own dreams and ambitions and follow them. These people are where your characters come from after all. The current six day star Iljo Keisse grew up riding on Kuipke, his dad owns a bar just round the corner from it, he’s a true six day rider who grew up watching the six days and wanted to be part of that, take away the possibility of that happening and in effect your killing the six days slowly. True there are still some rides left, Franco Marvulli and Danny Stam spring to mind, but what happens when they have hung up the wheels, where are the next true six day riders coming from?
Sport’s grow, evolve and change, the UCI in their wisdom have proved this by booting the Madison and individual pursuits out but some things should stay the same for their own good.
Nancy Back in Mexico for the Nationals
My sister had a little break from her training camp in Mallorca to do the Mexican Track Nationals. I was so excited because the last time I saw her was back in March at the Track Worlds in the Netherlands. Our schedules are so different I hardly get to see her.
We had some catch up time, we went to all our favorite restaurants (Mexican food of course!) and had a really good time before going to Aguascalientes for the track Nationals. We did a road trip two days before the competition, it was only six hours drive so it wasn’t that bad and it was a good opportunity to talk and get updates on what we’d both been doing in our lives.
When we arrived and did our first training session at the track we knew it was the moment of truth, we were going for all or nothing. All the training and the hard work was going to be tested and we had to compete one more time for that gorgeous Mexican jersey.
Unfortunately my competition was soon over due to a back injury that has been holding me back since the start of this year. On the other hand my sister did an awesome job, she won the individual pursuit on the first day and showed a superior level of skill at the rest of the competition, I guess training with the World Champion [Sarah Hammer] helps a bit!
Sofi in her "AH" Team Colours
Her coach Andy [Sparks] was very happy with her results, “Great first day of racing at the Champs of Mexico for Sofia, getting the fiesta started with a win in the individual pursuit”.
We started the omnium the second day. Sofi and my younger sister Chely raced with our local team “AH” and I raced with my team Horizon Fitness-Prendas Ciclismo RT, so we were rivals for the first time! It was weird, we always race together but this time it was completely different it added more fun to the competition.
Sofia won the flying lap and then I lapped the bunch 3 times to win the points race, the classification was very close and Sofia was beating me in the overall classification by one point. Then it was time for the elimination race, my back was in so much pain. Sofia won again and I finished in 4thplace, at the end of the day Sofia was leading the overall classification and I was still in
Sofi Arreola going for the win
contention for medals but my coach and I decided that it was better if I quit the competition because I didn’t want to have more damage done to my back.
Very disappointing news as I won two gold medals at the Nationals last year and was hoping to at least defend my titles but my health comes first.
The second day of the omnium started, Sofia was leading with a comfortable advantage and she did her best to keep the lead. She won the individual pursuit of the omnium and then it was time for the scratch race, I have to say that it was a very chaotic race!
There were several attacks as the 2nd, 3rd and 4thplace were very close in the GC [General Classification], then Chely made an attack and got away, in the final lap Sofi was way ahead in the sprint and everyone crashed behind her. One of the riders touched Sofia’s wheel by accident and that caused the crash. Some of the riders were in a very bad way and had to go to hospital, even one of the race’s commissaries was injured!
Accident At the Mexican Nationals
There were broken bones, blood and many, many scars! Only my two sisters were fine… it was devastating, so the judges decided to end the race right there and they didn’t do the omnium’s final event (500 metres).
So that meant that Sofia won another National Jersey to add to her big collection, she showed again she was the strongest in the competition but still she was very sad because her rivals crashed, “I can’t even think about the victory, I just hope the rest of the girls are ok…”.
Sofi Arreola racing at the Nationals
One of the biggest surprises of the championships was the comeback of Belem Guerrero (former Olympic silver medalist) and Nancy Contreras (former Jr World Champ of 500 metres). Belem retired after a bad season before the Beijing Olympics’ and Nancy just had a baby four months ago!
They were both in good form, Nancy was looking super fit even after having a baby! It seems like she’s worked really hard to get her fitness back to win two national titles. Belem was also looking very good, she was winning the points race after lapping the bunch once and just when she was getting ready to make another attack she crashed! It was again a bad crash… she broke three ribs and couldn’t keep on racing, such a shame! She is such a talented rider and an icon of Mexican Cycling.
This Championships had a lot of surprises, crashes and emotional moments. It was really nice to be there and have the whole experience (even if I had to end my race sooner than expected…).
With this results Sofia has secured her place in the PanAm Games [Pan-American Games] this October, this event is very important for Mexico because it’s a big competition, a huge test before the Olympic Games in 2012 and also because it will be held in Mexico this time! What a better feeling that racing for the National Team in your own country!
Sofia is now in an altitude camp in Colorado and will return to Mexico to ride the team pursuit and the omnium in the PanAm Games and after that she will be more than ready to start the World Cup season!
Let’s get this party started!
All images ©Copyright Nancy Arreola