It may not look like much, but the Wheal Jane circuit is the only off-road cycling track in Cornwall, and if supporters can raise £10,000 for resurfacing, it will become Cornwall’s only closed circuit cycle racing facility.
Local riders in Cornwall and West Devon are currently using the part gravel loop at Wheal Jane, near Truro, but if the £10,000 crowd funding campaign is successful the Wheal Jane board, a group representing five local businesses, will provide £50,000 to tarmac the gravel section to make a continuous 1.4km lap suitable for racing.
The course, which is used by the One and All Youth Academy, was recently given the all-clear from British Cycling for racing use, if surfacing is complete and barriers are placed at certain locations along the track.
Flat run after the descent at the Wheal Jane circuit
Chair of One and All, Rod James, said: “We don’t have, at the moment, any closed circuit racing facility in Cornwall, or indeed any this side of Torbay. The Wheal Jane circuit at the moment we’ve used temporarily, but only part of it.”
In fact, as Jess Duffy, who tweets as @lapsandlanes, points out the South West is now the only UK region with no indoor or outdoor velodrome.
The Wheal Jane Cycle Racing Circuit website explains that Wheal Jane, a former tin mine now occupied by the Wheal Jane Laboratory, is the easiest and least expensive answer to developing cycling facilities in the area.
It says: “It is a fantastic opportunity for Cornwall to have its own closed cycle racing circuit that will not only benefit the development of cycling and cycle racing in Cornwall, but will contribute to strengthening the race calendar in the south west region and will provide an excellent race facility for not only local clubs and riders, but for those from the wider south west, including Devon, the South Hams, Exeter and Somerset.”
If money is raised the circuit will be operational for the start of the 2016 season.
Work will be done in three phases, firstly to resurface the track, secondly to provide facilities, and the third, in future, to increase the size of the circuit.
Crowdfunding ends on 15 December, and with 17 days to go the funds are at almost £9,000, leading organisers to start thinking about “overfunding” for phase two, making facilities available for the 2016 season. If £10,000 is raised organisers believe it will send a strong message to grant awarding organisations they will approach for later phases about the commitment of the local community.
The campaign has the backing of ITV cycling commentator Phil Liggett, who says despite his 48 years following the Tour de France his heart is in British Cycling. He said: “In the longer term the youngsters will benefit because the circuit will be improved immensely.”
“I’ve donated because I think it’s very important, we want the youth of Cornwall to develop as cyclists, after all. Cornwall has provided us with some great professional bike riders and they have no such facility in Cornwall, as of yet.”