Marking the steady passing of history at Herne Hill velodrome

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Cycling coach on the Herne Hill velodrome

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – Herne Hill is creating more reminders of the history of the track

“We have a bike that Bradley Wiggins used to ride here which is a hire bike that will be restored and hung in the new grandstand we are having built for our 125 anniversary next year. Before he had sponsors and his own bikes, he was riding around on a hire bike from Herne Hill Velodrome. But interestingly there used to be a velodrome near Paddington and, when it was closing, all the coaches caught wind of it and rushed down and bought all the second track bikes and Wiggins was racing on a bike like that.

“We have a photo of him being beaten to the line by a 13 year old who said to him, ‘You ought to become a professional’. And he retorted to her, ‘You beat me, I think you should become the professional’. Unfortunately, she did not, but he did. And now we have a yellow jersey winner after 99 years of British riders not winning anything. And the year before Mark Cavendish had the first green jersey and the year after Bradley Wiggins and now we have Froomie. A little South African in him, but we will forgive that. And now with the Olympics and the state of riding in the UK, and the work done to make it easier for people to ride to work and the new bike lanes coming in and the hire bikes and the velodrome being revamped, it is a great place to be a cyclist.”

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Moving into the “nutter” track lifestyle

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Herne Hill rider and his Vilier bike

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – Heroes change over time as new icons arrive – some closer to home

My background was road excitement as a teen and building a bike, Campagnolo throughout, like the pros had. My hero was Eddy Merckx. Now my heroes are Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, who have both ridden here and ridden here for a long period of time.

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The value of Britain’s oldest velodrome

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Track coach alongside the Herne Hill Velodrome, London

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – Britain’s oldest velodrome has become a hub in the resurgence of track racing in Britain.

 

A lot of people use Herne Hill because there are only nine tracks left in the country – about four indoor and five outdoor. So, in the southeast of England, there is nothing to to go to really. Brighton was just condemned. South of the river, tracks are very difficult to find. Riders come from a long way away to ride here. We have our own club, Velo Club Londres, and we have a number of champions at different levels and age groups as there are no other tracks for kids, teenagers and adults to ride.

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Teach and old man a new trick

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Participant at the old man cycling hour at Herne Hill velodrome

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – Various cycling programs at Herne Hill means a space for everyone, including ‘old man’ racing.

“I am just an old man on a bike who enjoys a bit of riding. I never raced before but I live around the corner. I am embarrassed that my kids have been on this track more times than I have been. This is my first time on this track. So, an old man on a bike on a Thursday morning is good fun.” Continue reading

Herne Hill and the neighbourhood track culture

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Herne Hill velodrome in London

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – An outdoor track and subject to weather, but still one of the best locations to be introduced to track racing

Track racing used to be a massive presence in Europe, in the UK. Tracks dotted the landscape. Then, slowly, one by one, the tracks have disappeared. Today, in London, while the Olympic velodrome has become the gold standard, Herne Hill, dating back to the 1948 Olympics, and nestled in the southern neighbourhoods of London, is the track of a bygone era – and yet remains an essential to introducing a new generation to track riding. Continue reading