Mildenhall Cycling Festival – Preview
West Row in Suffolk is gearing itself up for the influx of thousands of cyclists this weekend (August Bank Holiday weekend (26th-28th August) for the re-launched Mildenhall Cycling Festival.
This is the first time the event, previously known as the Mildenhall Cycling Rally and back to its full three-day format will be held at this fantastic venue.
The new look festival has relocated to West Row at the purpose-built Village Hall & licensed bar and an adjacent camping field with views looking out over the Fens! It is just over two miles from the old Rally site and Mildenhall can be reached very safely using the tarmacked Wamil Way bridleway.
Chairman of Mildenhall Cycling Club, who organise the Festival, Mark Burchett has praised both the work put in by the Club’s members and the trustees of the West Row’s Village Hall, saying “There has been a lot of hard work put in by the Club’s organising committee behind the scenes to make this event possible. It has been very refreshing at how accommodating the trustees have been, even carrying out work to accommodate the Festival.
All of this means we are very excited and looking forward to welcoming all of our regular and new visitors alike, to the Festival at West Row.”
For one of the last major grass-track meetings of the year, the Festival is expecting riders from across the UK, as it includes the final rounds of the National Short Distance League over 750m and the National Endurance League with heats over 4km or a straight final over 8km if there are less than 25 riders.
The grass-track will be the centrepiece of the Festival, with racing every day from 12noon. The Saturday will be dedicated to the under16’s, while on the Sunday as well as the National League events, there will be a range of Senior, Junior and Ladies events. The final day’s racing on the track sees a departure from the tradition of previous Rallies, with Go-ride racing and Fun Senior events! Organiser of the ‘grass’ Max Pendleton, explains “we are re-introducing consolation events to spread the prize list, to stop the quickest guy winning everything!”
The Go-ride racing will be run as an Omnium, with points awarded in each counting event with the lowest total score being the winner. The Fun events include Slow Bicycle Race, Minion & Spoon race, Backward Bike Push as well as the inclusion of an old favourite, the ‘Bristow’ Devil, named after World and Olympic Para Champion, Mark Bristow MBE who was a member of Mildenhall CC before he moved to the USA.
Over its 28 years the popular Mildenhall Cycling Rally attracted up and coming names from the world of cycling including Victoria Pendleton CBE and Laura Kenny MBE (nee Trott), who both went on to international success becoming World and Olympic Champions
Providing a suitable backdrop to the grass-track arena will be the two-day Trade Show. This offers a unique opportunity for the cyclists attending the event who already know the advantages, as well as local people, to see a variety of companies selling a range of cycles, clothing and accessories often at bargain prices, all on their doorstep! There will also be local Charities with stands as well.
The Festival is not just for serious cyclists though as the organisers put on many attractions that will appeal just as much to local people and children. It is a great way for a family to spend the day without it costing a fortune, as entry is by donation with a suggested amount of £3.00 for adults and just £1.00 per child! This also includes free day parking
There will be Children’s Sports every day, with a mega bouncy castle and face painting by Kellii from Off the Curb & Over the Rainbow on the Sunday & Monday, with Stevie Spud, a children’s entertainer and circus skills workshop, on the final day
Especially for local children is the West Row Youth 1-Lap Race on Sunday, which they can use their own bikes! For children aged 4-7 years old, Abbeycroft Leisure will be running free 45minute BalanceAbility sessions on the Sunday & Monday. They will be using balance bikes which is a lightweight, pedal-less child’s bike, enabling young children to cycle without ever needing stabilisers.
For young and old alike on the Sunday there be Special Guest ‘Boysie’, a Percheron Stallion visiting the Festival. Local working-horse lover, Barry Atkin will be bringing his prized six-year old stallion who stands at over 19 hands for visitors to see.
On the competitive front, there will be the Children’s Duathlon on the Sunday and Mildenhall’s traditional ‘Madison’ Cyclo-Cross on the final day of the Festival. Both will take advantage of the rural setting and will provide an interesting and testing course on the bike. On the Saturday, West Suffolk Wheelers will again be organising their Skilful Riding for 4-14 year olds, which will consist of five Go-Ride skill bases where you can earn points towards a Certificate for completing.
Some of the Rally favourites retained include the Cycle Jumble, which will take place Saturday evening in the marquees and the Quiz Night on the Sunday evening in the Village Hall, with its licensed bar that will be open every evening of the Festival.
On the touring front, C.T.C. (Cyclists Touring Club) Suffolk will be offering 57, 100, 160, 200 & 300km timed-touring rides on the Saturday, under the auspices of the Audax organisation. For those that want something more relaxing, Mildenhall Cycling Club will have their range of touring leaflets available, offering a variety of scenery over varying distances.
The organisers are very keen to promote the environmentally friendly aspects of cycling and are offering an incentive to those that cycle to the Festival. When they book their cycle camper pitch, they received a £5 voucher that they can redeem on their arrival, which will reduce the cost to just £23 for the weekend.
All the details of everything happening at the Festival can be found at www.mildenhallfestival.bike