The Smithfield Nocturne was well supported by the Willesden on Saturday Night.
I arrived at the circuit around 7pm and became instantly depressed at the lack of crowds. The historic location of the circuit consisted of long rows of empty metal barriers with very little evidence of human inhabitation. Odd knots of spectators were seen around the circuit but not the throngs I had hoped for.
On arrival the “All Stars” race was in full progress. A unique feature of this race was that there was not one star in the entire field. The strung out race eventually ground through to its finish. The hard working commentators then began to enthuse over the impending courier race. After a wait of geological proportions the courier race started to happen. A series of gritty looking courier types assembled on the start line, each trying to feign boredom. I on the other hand was experiencing the real thing. A punch up flared and a rider split opened the head of a race official. Great PR for cycling guys! Thank you very much. The race got under way and it was clear that no one had a clue what was going on. It was thoroughly and unexciting and completely baffling to all onlookers, including the commentators.
The black clouds hovering over the circuit proved to be real and not in my depressed imagination. As they emptied their cargo monsoon conditions prevailed for the next 30 minutes. This was a turning point in the evening as during these dreadful conditions the commuters folding bike race took place. Dressed in suits and ties the entrants had Le Mans sprint to their folded bikes. The racing was great and exciting, the riders were putting on a great show and bringing the whole event alive. They were showing how exciting bike racing can be to the man in the street. The previously inanimate crowds cheered on the riders and as the weather dried, more and more spectators arrived. I would never have believed how fast a Brampton could go. This was shaping up to be a great evening.
The elite race of the evening was extremely well organised and promoted. The main riders, most of the big names in UK cycling, were individually presented to the public. There was a real buzz in the air and my mood had now swung fully to complete enthusiasm . The racing was fast and exciting right from the drop of the flag. The crowds now lined most of the circuit gave great support to the riders who were doing an excellent job of entertaining us. A really great evening was in the making.
Rapha and Condor did a great job on Saturday evening. They were appallingly let down by the London courier race and they should strongly consider dropping this race. The rest of the event was excellent and I hope we shall see it run again soon.