You don’t know how lucky you are! Assuming you’ve joined Dulwich Paragon because you live in the area then you also have one of the best cycling tracks in Britain next door. Herne Hill Velodrome (HHV), hidden away off Burbage Road, is an amazing facility to have so close to hand. It was originally built in 1892 with the support of local cycling clubs, one of which just happens to be Dulwich Paragon. At the moment it is being managed by Velo Club de Londres (www.vcl.org.uk) on a voluntary basis and in conjunction with British Cycling with additional support from the Friends of Herne Hill Velodrome (https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofHerneHillVelodrome/) . The track was resurfaced two years ago and floodlighting installed, which allows for use of the track after daylight hours. The ‘new’ surface is also much more weather tolerant. After many years of campaigning and fund-raising from some very determined and committed people, the go ahead to demolish the derelict stadium buildings was finally given early in 2016 and a new state-of-the-art pavilion was opened in March 2017. The track itself is 450m long with the steepest part of the banking at 30 degrees. This is lot larger and shallower than indoor tracks such as the Olympic one, making it a much less daunting prospect.
Herne Hill Velodrome has an excellent website which has details of all you need to know about the track www.hernehillvelodrome.com including FAQs for first timers, calendar of events, etc. This is where to go to find out what’s on. They also have a twitter feed for last minute information.
Whether you’ve ridden on a track before or just want to try the track for the first time you must attend the early Saturday morning session for novices and those new to HHV. This is then followed up up with attending ‘Basic Training Sessions’, ‘Intermediate training sessions’ and then racing! Check the Session pathway on the HHV web site for the latest information and current timings. You don’t need a track bike as they are available for hire but you might consider bringing your own pedals as otherwise you’ll be using toe straps. You can ride your own fixed wheel bike but no brakes are allowed and no single speed bikes with a freewheel are allowed either. You do not need a BC licence to take part. 2012 saw such a keen interest in Track Cycling that every session was full. There is no advance booking so get down there early.
The Herne Hill Track League is a season long competition that takes place Wednesday evenings with a grand final at the end of the season on a weekend. You don’t need a BC licence for these events but you do need HHV racing accreditation. You just pay to register for the league the first time round then pay for every race you take part in. It’s always Entry on the Day (EOD). At the end of the season there are trophies and cash prizes to be won.
The Open Meetings are run on weekends and Bank Holidays. Sometimes you need to have entered in advance but usually you can EOD (Check HHV or BC websites for details). For National and Regional events and the Good Friday meeting there may well be no entry on the line. As the exact details become available I’ll post them up. At these meetings there are BC points to be earned as well as the usual prizes.
All these events can contain a series of different types of races. Sometimes they count together in an Omnium so that the overall winner is the best placed rider over a series of say four disciplines eg the HHPA Omniums and the track league. Sometimes it may be an individual race eg SCU Roadman’s 25. or the regional pursuit championship. Sometimes it’s a mixture of the two.
You don’t have to take part in every race in an Omnium if you don’t want to but the idea is to provide everyone with the opportunity to ride in four or five events over the course of an afternoon. Racing is not done strictly by BC category. In effect the E,1 and 2 riders usually go into the A group and the 3 and 4 cat riders go into the B group but it’s left to the discretion of the organisers and the honesty of the riders to organise the groupings according to ability. For the Omnium there will be separate BC points awarded for the two groups. Sometimes A and B groups will ride together, say in the final 20km race of an open meeting, and there may only be points for the overall winner. Many of the events feature races specifically for women though often they ride with the ‘B’ group. If you need to know more precisely have a word with the organiser before the event because it isn’t always clear.
Dulwich Paragon owns a small fleet of superb Felt TK2 track bikes which can be used free of charge by our members. They are kept at the track and you must book via Stephen Sorba.
For more information about track racing contact Steve Sorba, DP Track Secretary:firstname.lastname@example.org
Come and race at the track, it’s fast, it’s furious and it’s great fun!