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.”

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

The Paris agreement might, finally, indicate a change from governments to address climate change

©B~rry Sandland/TIMB - Woman w folding bike walking at climate change protest in Ostend Belgium

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – A climate accord that may mark a change in direction. Finally.

The COP21 agreement has been widely heralded as a fabulous achievement for nations. A promise – not a legal commitment – to keep climate temperature increase to under two decrease celsius from pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. A 100 billion dollar annual fund for developing nations.  A promise to stem greenhouse emissions. Continue reading

Is the climate agreement focused on the wrong future?

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Man with bike walking in the Ostende climate march

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – W international agreement in Paris, now we have to watch industry and ourselves, if we are to meet the standards.

There was never going to be an easy agreement in Paris. Even with the agreement that has been hailed as a success, there has been considerable dissent at its focus. That there is still a strong fossil fuel focus and not enough dedication to alternative, renewable energy. It should be expected. Oil and the oil industry are power houses in deciding the future direction. With billions of barrels still in the ground, and worth hundreds of billions of dollars, the efforts to make money, lots of money, remains dominant. Alternative energy protestors, the alternative industry, have a focus so different, the traditional voices are still struggling to come to terms with the potential.

But all attending countries have signed the agreement, agreed to cut carbon emissions, and the difference of developed over developing countries is clear. While the standards have not been fixed, it would seem the international pressure to act has appeared.

However, with no legally binding obligation, countries are still able to abuse the agreement. It will be essential, in the coming months and years, that business be carefully monitored, pressured, to meet the commitment that has been found in Paris.