Step back in time, to 1940, at the Herne Hill velodrome with vintage fashion, hot air balloon rides, craft beer and cocktails, and bicycles of every variety at the World Cycling Revival Festival, writes Laura Burgoine…
Running across three days in June, the festival celebrates 200 years since the bicycle was first patented in 1818, and 70 years since the Herne Hill Velodrome hosted the Olympics in 1948.
“You don’t need to be a cycling fanatic to come and have a brilliant day out,” founder John Postlethwaite told the Weekender.
Festival goers can witness the R. White’s one-hour world record attempt, watch the world’s best riders compete for the Japanese Keirin Trophy, watch England compete with the rest of the world in Cycling Polo and see Flying Scotsman Graeme Obree. “One of the most exciting things is Graeme Obree,” John said. “He’s not trying to break a record at the event, but he’ll be showing off, with a lot of pace, a new bike he’s built to celebrate the 25 year anniversary of breaking the world one hour record in 1993.”
“He’s rebuilt a bike called the Old Faithful out of an old washing machine and is launching it for the first time to the public,” he continued.
Long distance cyclist Mark Beaumont, who holds the record for cycling around the world, is attempting to break the one hour penny-farthing world record on the Friday. “R White’s lemonade is the sponsor of this attempt; they’re the oldest lemonade brand in the UK and their first ever factory was half a mile away in Camberwell, in 1845,” John said. “And the last time the record was broken was 1893 in Herne Hill.”
On the Saturday, the two oldest university cycling clubs, Oxford and Cambridge, go head to head. “They’ve never had a track varsity match; they’re always on the road,” John said. “And they’ve never had a varsity match in any sport that combined men and women’s points for a joint trophy.”
As part of the Brompton Prize Race, hosted by cyclist David Millar, competitors are fighting it out for a whopping £10,000 prize. “All the competitors will be standing on the outside of track, dressed up in vintage dress, and their bikes are on the inside of the track folded up and you have to run across, unfold the bike and that’s how the race starts,” John said. “It should be hilarious to watch.”
Along with all the cycle-related events, there’s also six of the country’s best jazz and swing bands playing, and a hot air balloon (tethered ride) giving people the chance to go up and down a couple of hundred feet. “You can go up, have a look over London and get a unique view of the venue,” John said.
Drinks will be flowing in the Pommery Champagne Bar, and Fuller’s craft ale tent. There’ll also be a mixologist on hand teaching people how to make 1940s cocktails, while Fuller’s has a master brewer leading a session. Herne Hill institution the Half Moon pub is also doing a guest ale.
There’s over 25 bicycles from the National Cycle Museum on display. “Some of them are 200 years old. There’ll be curators talking about bikes and a beautiful photographic exhibition,” John said.
Organisers are encouraging people to dress up for the event. “Dress up in 1940s gear, or anything vintage. It doesn’t need to be formal. We’ll have old fashioned car mechanics, people from the armed forces, anything that looks old fashioned: bloomers, cycling shirts,” John said. “We hope that when people step inside, and hear the music and see everyone dressed up it’ll make everyone feel like they’ve gone back in time, back to the 1940s.”
Cycling Revival is at the Herne Hill Velodrome, Dulwich Village, SE24 9HE, from June 14-16. Admission: £39-£59. www.cyclingrevival.com