BRITISH BROMPRIX 2017
When the ballot for the Brompton World Championship and on-line difficulties frustrated his competitive edge, Mark Jacobson took his Bromtpon to a new event.
My Brompton has carried me around the circuits at both Blenheim and Goodwood, participating in the Brompton World Championships. For those events, entries were taken until the requisite numbers were achieved. Subsequently the race was moved to London, where it has been held now for three years, using a ballot run by Ride London to select the participants, many of whom have come from foreign countries: in fact two of my friends living abroad have been included in every London BWC race, while I, among others, have had our applications rejected.
This year, however, I received a welcome email congratulating me on my place in the race. Regrettably I could not log in to the payment site and a few days later I received an apology to say I was successful in gaining a place on the reserve list, not the race. It is said that a large number on this list are given a race place and this I duly received. Unfortunately I again could not log in to the payment page, so I advised both Ride London and Brompton that I no longer had any further interest.
As I was not the only Brompton owner to be disappointed, one of our London Brompton Club (LBC) members decided to initiate our very own race, the British BromPrix. After considerable research and investigation, Steve, a member of the LBC Facebook Group, organised and advertised - with the help of a couple of others - the event: the race circuit at Cyclopark, Gravesend, had been hired for our exclusive use, together with a meeting room; and a new badge commissioned to commemorate the inaugural event. I was so pleased I immediately bought my ticket, receiving No 1.
The Saturday dawned dry, with plenty of wind, but showers due later. The train took me comfortably to Euston from where I crossed to St Pancras for the High Speed Kent train, alighting at Gravesend with time to spare. First stop was to the Pocahontas statue outside St George's Church, where I met up with a number of LBC riders.
Pocahontas was the daughter of the Paramount Chief of the Native American tribe which occupied the area when John Smith led his group of settlers to found Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. In 1613 she was captured during hostilities and eventually adopted the Christian faith and, in 1614, married John Rolfe. They travelled back to England where she was fêted (or exhibited) as a 'civilised native'. However, on the return journey she took ill and died before leaving the Thames, being buried at St George's Church, Gravesend.
We Bromptoneers moved on to the Promenade Cafe for an early lunch. Here several rather hungry riders were defeated by an over-supply of enormous pancakes! They ordered 13 between three of them, expecting tiny London-sized portions, only to find them as large as a 52T chain ring!
The Cyclopark is a marvellous place. It has been in existence since 2012, formed on land relinquished when the adjacent A2 was re-aligned, and is managed by a charitable trust, supported by Kent County Council, Sport England, British Cycling, et al.
We were allowed to wheel our Bromptons through the cafe to the outside seating. The whole set-up is geared towards cycling and cyclists.
The race was held prior to the time trial, and this alteration proved to work well. The circuit is sausage-shaped, with several loops allowing different lengths. Each of our laps were 1.05 miles in length, and we were to race for eight laps.
From the start line, we set off Le Mans style, unfolding our bikes and dashing off on a clockwise circuit. After a slight climb, the track dropped rapidly to a very tight turn before climbing into the freshening wind. Eventually this descended to a wider turn and a long slight climb back to the line. The continual lapping of some riders over others caused the count became confused: I hadn't been counting mine as there was an electronic lap counter, which was subsequently turned off, so continued until it felt about right to finish. This distance proved to be 8.6 miles, so must have been right.
After a friendly rest outside by the starting line, we took our places for the time trial, going off at one minute intervals as normal. A few were even still caught and passed. By the end of the day, the results had not been announced as the calculations were still under way, but a number of us set off to avoid the impending heavy shower threatening. This broke as I sat in the train, pulling out of the station.
Arriving at St Pancras, I could use very wet roads to reach Euston while remaining dry. My train was cancelled, so I reached home some 20 minutes later than expected, only to find the last shower disappearing in the distance. Home dry!
It had been a really good day's event, shared with some very friendly Bromptoneers, so thank to our organisers. There is already a call for it to be repeated next year.
Images by Mark Jacobson and Michael Fouracre.
Cafe 1809 which opened at the Cyclopark in June, is now closed, just a fortnight after our BromPrix.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/LondonBromptonClub/ for updates on future activities.
MORE OF MARK'S BROMPTON EXPLOITS CAN BE FOUND IN THE RIDES MENU