The first of 6 of Herne Hill’s “Open Season” events went off with great success. Despite looming black clouds and appalling forecasts over 50 riders signed on and the exciting and varied programme was run without disruption. Rollapaluza CC took the reigns for this first event and their enthusiastic band of club members worked alongside the more experienced volunteer officials taking care of roles such as sign on, judging, whipping, photography and most importantly, cheering!
The programme saw the usual mix of points, devil and scratch races that Herne Hill regulars have come to expect, but also had match sprints and team sprints, which made for a break from the norm. The senior A races boasted a strong field including Masters champions John McClelland and Bryan Taylor, and track league winners Symon Lewis (Herne Hill) and Neil Cooper (Reading). The B category had almost 20 riders, including many old hands, but importantly many enthusiastic newer racers having their first taste of open race meetings. The youth categories were well attended, and with some of the more experienced riders attending a regional youth omnium in Portsmouth, changed the dynamic of the racing.
Highlights of the day included VC Londres’ new recruit Arben Zilci, who fought hard against astute opponents Andrew Bradshaw and Chris McGovern of Sutton CC in the Under 14/16 category and put on a very impressive display for his first race. The B category prizes were shared between a broad range of riders. The earlier races went to the more experienced, while newer riders started to shine through as the day went on – Rollapaluza CC’s own Tom Phillips getting a special mention for scooping 2nd in the B points race in his first open meeting.
The Open Season races were a particularly good place to start out, as many riders went home smiling with each senior race boasting at least £30 prize money per race, and £150 on the last race alone. Even some of the youth riders went home with almost £20 in extra in well-earned pocket money! Over £500 up for grabs in total, and with cheap entry fees (£10 – seniors, £6 – juniors, £3 – youth).
While the A category races were more about pride, rather than the money, a few riders in particular still managed to go home with pockets bulging. None more than Symon Lewis being the only rider to get a top 3 position in every race, including winning a crowd pleasing match sprint final against Team Terminator’s sprint specialists Miles Stovold and Miles Anon. Bryan Taylor put on an impressive display too, winning the A Devil and Points Race, after forming a decisive break with Simon Warren. European Masters Sprint Champion, John McClelland rode strongly all day, taking a prime and third place in the final 20k Scratch, as well riding the last leg of the winning Team Sprint team.
The weather held off perfectly, with the deathly black clouds breaking literally just as the riders crossed the finish line of the final 20k scratch, and then proceeding to rain constantly for the following 18 hours.
All in all a great day. Top quality racing, a varied programme, great prize money, and a lot of fresh faces getting involved, and doing well in the racing. Make a note of the next Open Season open meeting at Herne Hill – 5th June, promoted by Dulwich Paragon and London Pheonix.