To Smithfield! …early on Saturday evening for the annual Nocturne Series race around the old market. I went to the first criterium around Smithfield back in 2007, and having been returning mid-summer ever since.
Not much has changed, both location and race wise – which probably won’t last for much longer. The races continue to be superbly organised, but Smithfield is undergoing a transformation.
It’s quite a feat that this grand old structure of London toil and trade still exists. Around the edges of the race circuit and crumbling Victorian buildings are rapidly losing the battle against gentrification.
Walk around the racetrack however and it’s not long until you reach VIP bars, cordoned off and serving up some inexcusably expensive light refreshments. The rapid acceleration of Smithfield regeneration is ripe to be explored at pace on two wheels.
Sadly I missed the Folding Bicycle heats. My own leisurely Brompton ride up from Brixton led to a fashionably late arrival. The lovely London Cycling Campaign had set up a superb safe cycling park, free to lock up and then go enjoy the evening of city centre racing.
I did my usual walk around the course, trying to capture what the atmosphere from as many different angles as possible. I attend a fair few criteriums around different locations. What stands out for the Nocturne Series is how incredibly close you are to the riders.
The Hipster take over of cycling shows no signs of speeding down. Beards are the new bicycles, apparently. I made a mental note to come clean and ride with a baby’s bottom chin when I’m next rolling out.
A lengthy delay to the schedule sadly broke up some of the momentum around 7pm. A rider was seriously injured on one of the tight Smithfield bends. It didn’t look great. I wish the rider well.
I had to remount the Brompton a short while later and set off over Blackfriars for a return to Titus at The Globe. It’s great that the Nocturne Series is still racing each summer, still in the same location. I wonder how far gentrification will have swallowed up Smithfield in twelve months time?