20 June 2010
Annual meatup: Smithfield Nocturne
Smithfield Nocturne - a summer evening of serious and amusing races on the streets of the meat market, specially closed for the purpose - is one of the highlights of the cycling year. There's lots of stalls and sideshows stuff, well-spectated, and all very sociable.
It ran yesterday afternoon and evening, was enormous fun, and as usual it was cloudy and threatened rain all day. They really should try holding it in summer one year.
I mention it in my column for Cycling Plus magazine this month, observing (in addition to the usual 13 jokes) that although there's plenty of dead serious road racing, the most popular item is the Commuter Race.
Participants, dressed city-style in collar and tie and shorts, start off with a mass run to their folding bikes, stampeding like a Waterloo concourse mob whose platform has just been announced. They then unfold, mount and race a few laps. At last, a race for Real Cyclists.
One of the points I make in my column is that the Tour de France will never make it that big in the UK because we don't go for all that serious stuff. We prefer a touch of pantomime.
Indeed, the biggest cheers were not for the winner, but for the leisurely young woman in a tutu who just waved at everyone, the bloke in drag, and the elegant white-tuxedo chap who came second to last but was clearly the best dressed.
This year, there was a new item. In my column (and my review of last year's Nocturne) I jokily suggested they should introduce more novelty races, including a Real Business Race, where ice-cream vendors sell as they go to spectators.
Well, they did: an ice-cream-bike race. Vendors had not only to do a lap on their cargo bikes, but also sell a specified number of ice creams en route.
Maybe I should sell my services to HTC, sponsors of the event, as a futurologist.