Not a MAMIL in sight
Where were the middle-aged men in Lycra? They were certainly not at the World Cycling Revival Festival held at the Herne Velodrome and the adjoining Griffin Sports Ground in June. As it was held on a Thursday and Friday as well as a Saturday, one suspects that they were all doing their day-jobs. They missed a lavish event, full of olde world charm. Indeed, there were very few cycles parked in the designated area and there were vast expanses of empty deck chairs, sparsely filled stands and an even thinner attendance in the hospitality suite.
The sponsors did not appear to be the ones who have benefitted from the huge upturn in cycling's fortunes - where were the Evans Cycles, Halfords, or even the purveyors of cycling lycra gear? And where were Conways. The highway firm which seems to have won most of TfL's contract for building cycle ways? Instead we find that R White's Lemonade, Exodus Travel, Fevertree Tonic and Millbrook Beds were sponsors. A swing band played to an empty stadium at lunchtime on the Friday and even Saturday saw only a thin crowd. Not surprising at £50 for a day ticket.
One of the highlights of the Festival was the attempt by Mark Beaumont, the round-the world- cyclist record holder to better the distance ridden in 1 hour on a Penny Farthing for the world record, established in 1881 by the American W A Rowe. Even a state of the art track and penny farthing (admittedly with solid tyres) did not help Matt and the 1881 record of 22.08 miles remains - a tribute to the athleticism of the day. As a consolation Matt did however break the British record established on the same track in 1891 with a ride of 21.92 miles.
Although no expense had been spared, It was nevertheless an odd kind of Festival, opening as it did on a Thursday/Friday/.Saturday. Lessons have clearly been learned and next year (yes it will happen again - there is a 3 year or a 10 year agreement, depending who you talk to) it will be staged over a weekend.
Speedy Cyclist - or speeding cyclist?
Speeding cycles are not new in Dulwich. In 1897 the founder of the Herne Hill Velodrome, George Lacey Hillier, was summoned by police for ‘riding a bicycle furiously... along College Road, Dulwich, at a rate of from 12-14 miles an hour’. Mr John Othen jun. who defended Mr Hillier, said his client was a stockbroker in the City (the first MAMIL?), had been a cyclist for 22 years and had never had an accident or been summoned by the police prior to this. The defendant estimated that he was not going more than eight ot ten miles an hour. Mr Hopkins ordered the defendant to pay a fine of 10s and costs.
Of course the question is - was he riding uphill towards Crystal Palace or down towards the Village? This is not mentioned in the report. Certainly, if he had been riding down College Road instead of ‘along’, no self-respecting cyclist of Hillier’s calibre would be travelling at less than 20mph.
‘Boots on the Ground or Tangled Feet’
Originally commissioned by Salisbury Playhouse in collaboration with Army SW, Southwark Council is promoting a local version of the event as part of their programme for Dulwich Park - it will take place on the weekend of 9, 10, 11 of November.
‘Boots on the Ground’ is a headphone performance created by physical theatre ensemble and charity Tangled Feet, (www.tangledfeet.com). Inspired by the centenary of the WW1 Armistice, it explores the experience of demobilising from the Armed Forces and returning to civilian life after the experience of conflict. Each performance is aimed at roughly 30 participants and starts in an Army tent stationed in a public space. The audience 'enlist' to take part and are invited to step inside the boots of a soldier who is being demobilised from the Armed Forces. Wearing headphones, the audience leave the tent and are instructed how to march together. On their route around the local area, two storylines play out - one set in 1918 and one in the current day. Part of the story is told via binaural recordings, and part by our two professional actors. The performance is designed to respond to the local history and environment of Dulwich. The performance will happen three times a day, lasting about an hour in total each time.