Sunday, 20 June 2010

Saturday Night's Alright for Cycling

Bleary eyes and heavy heads greeted the TroisV this morning, the result of too much Zot at the Smithfield Nocturne last night.

It was a cycletastic Saturday for all concerned, a day that began with the first ever club ride given an official send off by the Club Mascot, resplendent in her New York Mets onesie.

The route/rowt (which can be seen here) will become known as the TroisV Divorce Ride, because Doug and I spent an early part of the ride arguing about who had invented the club's name, whilst Matt, fearing that he would be caught in a ferocious tug of love should the row escalate, pedalled along in the gutter whimpering 'Flotsnoo, flotsnoo!' in an attempt to calm the warring factions.

After further discussion of the spelling of the words 'team' and 'you', we settled that the invention of the club name was a team effort, and as we continued talk turned to more important matters, such as what sort of bike Matt should spend his cyclescheme voucher on. The current favourite/favorite is a tourer/cyclocross bike, preferably in steel to allow us all to sing a hearty tune. The TroisV awaits the results of his deliberations with interest.

The ride was a good one, peppered by a mere four navigational errors, only two of which were my fault, on a loop that saw us lapping the world's smallest roundabout:

fording the swollen Thames:

hearing a woman describe her own dog as 'an idiot' in Wandsworth Park, (where I took the first ever TroisV bike-mounted photograph):

Inspecting a pagoda:

and seeing some Hare Krishnas:

It was a fun route, but a mere prelude for the main fun of the evening, the HTC Smithfield Nocturne.

When I suggested to the others that we spend Saturday night hanging round a meat market, they were understandably thrilled. When I explained that we were going there to watch all manner of bicycle races, they were a little less excited, but still enthusiastic. So it was with a spring in our steps that Doug, the Club Mascot, the Club Mascot's mum, and I arrived in the heart of London for the fun and games.

For those who don't know, Smithfield, a derivation of its middle ages name 'smooth field', sits on land to the north and west of the original city walls of London. Used as a livestock market for nearly 1000 years, it's been the site of fairs and celebrations for... oh.

I'm sorry. Wrong blog.

The Smithfield Nocturne is a series of bike races held on a summer evening in London for the past five years. It culminates in an elite-mens' criterium race as the sun starts to set. It's free to attend, and there are all kinds of cycling-related events going on as well as the racing.

We arrived just as the first heat of the folding bike race was underway. In this event, men and women, mostly all in fancy dress, have to sprint 20 yards to their folded bikes, unfold them, and then race for three laps. A few people take the competition seriously, but mostly it's a fun event to kick off the nocturne. Riders in tutus, tuxedos, and even one game fellow in a dress and heels speed round and try not to fall off.

Oddly, the prize was a Dahon bike, when it looked to me like the top 30 or so riders were on Bromptons, due in no small part to their speed of unfolding.

Having watched the first heat, we headed off to look at the stalls, and marvel at all the fancy car-shaped bike parking that had been laid on for the evening.

We paused to take a snap of the official Rapha Condor Sharp team car, which we hope Matt will be able to look at and still remain in control:

and next stop was the stalls, where Doug joined the London Cycling Campaign (as all our London readers should) and we saw our friends from 'Look Mum No Hands', who set us on the road to ruin by selling us excellent beer and giving us badges (the Club Mascot now sports one proudly on her sling). They were also doing a roaring trade in caps. Next week is bike week, and the LCC will be in residence at LMNH, so you can tick off two TroisV recommendations with one trip.

Some genius at mobile 'phone manufacturers HTC decided that the best way to see the racing, if you weren't wedged at the front of the railings, was to use a periscope. These were particularly handy for seeing lots of other periscopes, and a clutch of them will soon be winging their way to Matt's nephews. Their other use was to create this, the demon eyes of the Trois V:

Sauron has nothing on us, so tremble, enemies, our demon eyes are upon you:

After the first heat of the folding bike race, it was the turn of the architects and developers, because the Nocturne was kicking off the London Festival of Architecture. No one was paying much attention, but someone jolly fast was crowned fastest architect in London, and we went to the pub to await Matt, his companion, and his jolly expensive camera. Doug ate the world's smallest pie, I kept the Club Mascot free of fish and chips, and we missed most of the Cycling Weekly support ride (won by Wayne Crombie of East London Velo). Luckily, we finished in the pub in time for the most hilarious event of the evening, the Laverstoke Park Ice Cream race, featuring Kristian House, the UK Road Race Champion, on an ice cream delivery bike, trying to beat three other riders whilst trying to shift merchandise on the way round.

Sadly the TroisV were unsuccessful in claiming any free ices, and had to settle for buying one (which was excellent) and we settled in to watch the elite women's race,
which was won by Hannah Barnes (not pictured).

Then it was time for the longest skid competition, in which fixie riders had to see who could not brake but not pedal the longest. Or something. Here's one of them now:

This man is actually trying to stop his bicycle, not make another one.

When it was time for the men's elite race, the main event of the evening, Matt finally let me play with his camera. He set the controls for five frames per second, and with his high-tech kit, my amazing photographic skill, and three whole SD cards worth of data we got the following two shots:

What an age we live in.

Matt then seized his camera back, and ran off to take photos of the winner, Ian Bibby, and the two very special guests:

He came back saying something about having been 'sprayed by Mark Cavendish', and we quickly said goodnight and left him and the Manx Missile to it.

Before his soaking, Matt had used his charms ('I've literally bankrupted myself buying your kit!') to persuade Rapha to let the Club Mascot and her mum use the passenger seat of their broom wagon/coffee bar to breastfeed.

Huge huge thanks to them for doing this, as small people were getting cold and hungry, and we might have missed the end if they hadn't been so nice.

It was a really fun night, and it was packed too, which made it even better. There's another one in Edinburgh next month, and then one in Blackpool in August. Just watch out for tramlines, you crazy kids.

Trois V!


  1. At least one member was disappointed that the guy with the beard didn't win the "not break but not pedal" competition, and is also pleased to see we got a photo of him, at least.

  2. That's Hillbilly:

    We also neglected to mention that one of the Trois V members appeared in the Nocturne programme (or at least a small portion of his face and legs) as part of the 2009 folding bike race.

  3. And a report from Rob:

  4. And here's the Manx Missile in a LMNH cap: