The rebirth of Herne Hill Velodrome as a key destination on the London cycling scene has been remarkable and its been brilliant to have witnesses its legacy refurbishment. From its pinnacle at the 1948 Olympics, the velodrome's usage slowly dropped and it fell into a state of disrepair. The track was repaired in 2011 but the old stand remained in a sorry eroding state. The great team of guys who run the velodrome worked out of tiny room in a portacabin, surrounded by electric heaters, an array of bikes and tupperware boxes full of pasta.
The velodrome started a funding campaign that was hugely successful and raised enough to refurbish the whole site with a new stand that houses amenities including changing rooms and offices. Designed by Hopkins Architects, the velodrome feels like it is back to its former glory with a full weekly schedule of racing and training throughout the year. The first edition of The World Cycling Revival Festival felt like an icing on the cake moment and culmination of all the work done in a celebration of the velodrome and of the bicycle.
The festival took place from the 14-16th of June and the aim is certainly to make it a key event in the cycling fan's summer calendar, we certainly hope it will be the first of many. There was a vintage theme to the festival, based on the days when the velodrome was in its peak in 1948 with many visitors sported amazing outfits. It was a high-end celebration of the heritage of the bicycle with live music, product stands, exhibitions and an array of food outlets and bars. There was a full programme and variety of track racing with Condor Cycles supplying a full compliment of retro steel bikes for the Japanese Kerin Trophy race. There was also live betting on all the racing, via Fitzdares which upped the stakes for those competing as friends and family placed their bets in support.
We spent Thursday afternoon at the festival on a day that included a lineup of a Japanese Kirin Trophy race, women's 200m flying lap, motor paced stayer racing, vintage penny farthing races and the main event, the Brompton 48 invitational elimination race. This was genuinely one of the best and most exciting track races I have ever had the pleasure of viewing. There was also a huge 'history of the bicycle' exhibition by The National Cycle Museum, based in Wales. They brought a huge variety of bizarre and beautiful bikes from years gone by. Check out the photo journal from the day below.