SE24 Spring Clean

Herne Hill velodrome, 28/02/10

A decent day of work down at Herne Hill velodrome on Saturday. With the new track season optimistically scheduled to role out of SE24 next weekend, there was no shortage of tasks for the VCL working party to complete this weekend.

The main focus of course was upon the track. An outdoor velo is essentially a very large garden, with a rather steep concrete path running around it. Nature doesn’t respect track etiquette, and so our first job was to trim the overgrowing grass around the inner track.

Teamwork was the key here. We completed a circuit of the velo in probably about the same time my aching frame will manage once bike bound next weekend.

A quick tea break, and next up was the clearing of the Herne Hill leaves. The wonderful autumnal Ride of the Falling Leaves rolls out at Herne Hill, and it seems that the leaves from five months ago have remained all around the track.

I cleared three wheelbarrow loads, and started off our very own Herne Hill compost patch. Cycling and green fingers – it’s got a future.

But it wasn’t all about having a track ready to ride ahead of le grand roll out – you need bikes to ride as well. My mechanical skills probably weren’t quite up to scratch, but it was good to see a dedicated team of grease monkeys servicing the fleet of VCL owned track bikes.

Sadly there has been a break in at Herne Hill over the winter months. Sixteen club owned track bikes were stolen. Four of these were later recovered in a front garden at Burbage Road, suggesting that the bike thief scum took off with more than they could transport.

The wonderful people of VCL have invested in a new fleet of Fuji’s. These look pristine, and rather tempting to take out for a spin next weekend. Each bike had to be fully serviced, and then pumped up to 160 PSI max for that feel of complete track control.

And so shortly after lunchtime on Saturday, the VCL working party was complete. I’m very excited about the news season. It will probably be our last summer in South London before the Great Escape, and so I’m hopeful of making the most of Herne Hill.

A question mark hangs over the running of the track. The mysterious Dulwich Estate is now operating a yearly rolling lease with British Cycling, which in turn, leases out le velo to VCL.

With no long term control of the facility, British Cycling and VCL are unable to raise funds and invest in the much needed improvement of the infrastructure.

The fear is that the Dulwich Estate is happy to see Herne Hill deteriorate to such an extent that it becomes unsafe. Cycling is then moved out, and the leafy suburbs of Dulwich are prime for further property development.

Never underestimate the passion of a cyclist though. The working party on Saturday demonstrated the collective spirit within the South London cycling community. We will work together and promote cycling in South London, irrespective of the opposition.

The new VCL track calendar has seen some slight tweaks for this season. The early Saturday morning 9am – 10am session has been put aside for the kids; adults roll out at the slightly earlier time of 10am, and then novices can be inducted at midday.

Do come down to SE24 and experience track racing. It’s the purest form of cycling, and VCL is an incredibly friendly, welcoming and supportive club. Plus don’t forget the highlight of the Herne Hill calendar – the Good Friday meet on April 2nd.


Herne Hill velodrome, 28/02/10

Herne Hill velodrome, 28/02/10

Herne Hill velodrome, 28/02/10

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