Jenny Copnall [British MTB champion] and Brixton Cycles [top London MTB club] have called for mountain biking to be restored at the post-Olympic Velopark – Mountainbike Cross Country is an Olympic Sport, but it will derive no legacy from the Games.
Known as the Eastway Cycle Circuit, the venue was demolished in November 2006 after 14 years of mountain biking (30 years of cycling) to make way for the Games’ development. Eastway was the only offroad venue serving inner London and a place where thousands of cyclists, youth, veteran and international, have ridden and raced mountain bikes. The largest mountainbike series in the country took place at Eastway, making full use of over 6km of trails.
Riders are still awaiting any temporary replacement as delays hit the agreed strategy for relocation. Previous legacy plans, including those shown to the IOC at the time of its final inspection always indicated that mountain biking would return to the site. Planning conditions also apply to the permissions given for the Games, which are intended to ensure a return of mountain biking to the site in legacy.
As part of the public consultation, the Eastway User Group (EUG) is publishing two statements that support the call for the restoration of the full-size circuit on the site. One is from the current British MTB champion Jenny Copnall, a Londoner who learned her sport at Eastway, and the other from Brixton Cycles, the London bike shop club which sponsored and raced in the Eastway MTB series for over 10 years.
Jenny Copnall said: “It is with sorrow and concern that I heard from the Eastway Users’ Group of the ODA’s decision not to provide mountain bike racers with an adequate facility in the Legacy Park after the Olympics have taken place.
“I fully expect the spectacle of the mountain bike cross country event at the 2012 Olympics to bring more young riders into our fantastic sport, many likely to be from the London area. It is essential that these potential future Olympians have access to grassroots competition in a safe yet challenging environment.
“Eastway has, until now, provided this, and played a pivotal role in my introduction and development as a young racer. It means a great deal to me that future generations of riders in the London area are able to enjoy the same opportunities that I did. The Eastway mountain bike events not only whet the appetites of new racers, they also provide newcomers with a social hub of knowledge and experience, which is crucial for development.
“The London area is not blessed with offroad riding places. In view of this I feel that it is very important that the finest example be reinstated, albeit with the break period during the Games, so that for those who wish to become mountain bike racers can do so, without their urban roots hindering their progress.”
Brixton Cycles, 11 years the Eastway mountain bike series sponsor:
“From 1995 to 2006 Brixton Cycles was series sponsor of the summertime mountain bike series at the Eastway Cycle Circuit. On Wednesday evenings after the shop closed, a group of us would ride the 7.5 miles (45 mins) from the shop in Brixton through the traffic to the circuit. We’d race, have a good tough time, go to the pub and ride home.
Brixton Cycles, along with the other inner and central clubs, has been deprived of its London mountain bike ground and looks likely never to race offroad again in the city. We call on the ODA to reinstate a full-size mountain bike course at the post-Olympic Velopark, without which the park is missing a vital component. The Olympics cannot finish off a London sport like this.”