Last night I watched a documentary that had been in my TV planner for a few weeks, I'd recorded it a while ago but struggled to find the time to watch, it was about Herne Hill velodrome.
I didn't really have much of a knowledge of Herne Hill, I was aware that it was an outdoor velodrome and that there was an ongoing campaign to save it but I didn't know what it needed saving from, nor did I care that much, so what if an old velodrome in London is going down the pan? They've got tons of great facilities, haven't they?
I mean, how can the loss of a velodrome affect cycling all that much, especially north of the border (or north of Watford gap for Londocentrics)? Within minutes of watching the footage of Herne Hill I knew why it needed to be saved. The place amazed me, nestled within housing, surrounded by mature broadleaf trees, quietly nostalgic about glories past and champions made. This place is special; I wanted to go there immediately, I wanted to stand on its banking, pedal around it's 450m circuit, imagine I was at the 1948 olympics. I've never been on a track before but this got me thinking I'd like to ride fixed and sprint on its recently refurbished tarmac.
If the place wasn't impressive enough, the volunteers were, these are the people that make cycling in Britain great, the time they give is invaluable, they're the caretakers of our past and the impetus for our future. These are the people pushing for a complete redevelopment of the facility, it's a worthy cause.
Cycling's a sentimental sport, tales of great battles and hard-won victories are what ignites our passion, it doesn't matter if you live in Dulwich, Scotland or even if you've decided that the weather's too bad and you now live somewhere on the Mediterranean Riviera, we'd all suffer the loss of Herne Hill.