Monday 30 January 2012

My Cycling Moment of the Week - 2

It is great to hear that the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) and the National Trust have decided to increase spectator capacity on Box Hill. Where originally access was limited to just 3,500 spectators for the Cycle Race, this figure has now been increased to 15,000. After missing out on tickets for the track cycling, myself and many other cycling fans I know had been relying on going to Box Hill for a piece of cycle racing action. It was quite disappointing therefore, to discover that there would only be comparatively few people having access to Box Hill.

For most club cyclists in London and the South East, Box Hill is a cycling mecca. Its zig zags to the summit make Box Hill the nearest you get to an Alpine climb. To be honest, it's not that tough as climbs go. It's probably one of the easiest of the Surrey Hills to cycle up. But there is something quite iconic about riding up the zig zags, and then when you reach the top the views over Surrey are too impressive to be missed. Oh, and there's a National Trust tea shop that serves the best cakes. Many club cyclists like to ride up Box Hill as fast possible, using it as a de facto hill climb competition, then collapse in a heap at the summit, thus justifying the need for cake.
Go to Box Hill on any weekend and you will find cyclists in their droves riding up the hill, and even more queuing up for their just friandise!

So really, the inclusion of Box Hill as part of the London 2012 Road Race route has been a good call in terms of showcasing cycling in London.

The trouble is, every single cyclist and their friends and family including Old Uncle Tom Cobley will want to be there - especially given the popularity of road racing nowadays. That will make slightly more than 15,000 people applying for tickets, I think! Although I am happy to know that my chance of getting access to Box Hill has suddenly benefited from a 4-fold increase, I don't think there is any cause for celebration. The section around Box Hill will now also be a ticketed event, with tickets on sale in April. The capacity at the Olympic Stadium is 80,000 but yet lots of people lost out in the ballot for tickets for the athletics events. So, if past record is anything to go by, I will only get onto Box Hill if there is a small section reserved for Greco-Roman wrestling where the cyclists wouldn't even bother to ride by! Or, I'll just resign myself to not getting a ticket and start making alternative plans. Leatherhead, here I come!

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