Chris Akrigg had wings to take the win at the Red Bull Minidrome event on Saturday night in front of a packed crowd. Akrigg cruised to victory the biggest problem he faced on the way to his win coming in one of the earlier rounds of racing when he had to bunny hop a rider who'd fallen in front of him… Akrigg took that in his stride too (you can see for yourself in our video below).
That though is just the bare bones of an entertaining evening in Bethnal Green to give you a true flavour of the event here's our resident geezer and expert summariser, TR McGowran with a (nearly) live ringside report plus some videos he shot. Take it away TR…
"Welcome to the minidrome. If you can imagine a cat on a bicycle, cycling around in your bath then you have some idea of the scale of this track… as well as a fertile imagination, it’s silly small.
What Redbull has created is the smallest possible, ridable, banked oval that you can build before it is classed as a 'wall of death' like you used to find at the circus or BBC1 idents. Still, that didn’t put off over 100 riders registering to have a go and race on the merry-go-round. After four hours of whittling the numbers down on timed runs, it was time to pit the qualifying riders head to head in a 2 up pursuit eliminator and race the finals.
The winning technique seemed to be a kind of sling shot move taking a late apex and getting a boost out of the berms (banking surely, you're not at the BMX track now - ed). The faster riders were able to sustain a sub 4 second average over 10 laps of the tight circuit. The racing wasn't as tactical as you would find in a pursuit race over a normal sized velodrome, there isn't enough time for that, after only a couple of cranks you are dipping your shoulder into the next bank.
The majority of eliminated riders were literally ejected from the banked edges like a hammer being tossed from a circle which the audience, amped on Redbull and booze loved!
Bike set up favoured wide riser bars to get the control and the leverage out of the tight corners, the only person to be running drops in the quarter finals was Ana from Team Mule Bar Girl (motto fast, fearless female), plus she was wearing lycra and she looked great (unfortunately she went over the edge living up to the motto, good somersault though I'd give it an 8.3). Ana is in action on the first race in our vid.
From the outset there one person was dominating the track, able to gain a bike length before the first bend, trials supremo and Mongoose sponsored rider, Chris Akrigg. Chris not only caught up his opponent, in the quarter finals, he forced the poor chap into an error leaving him sprawled over the track… Chris in mid stroke bunny hopped his victim!
Before the main final Redbull caused more wincing than any of the riders had achieved from crashing by delaying the action and bringing on another trials ace, YouTube celebrity bike dancer, Danny McAskill. By this point the commentator had possibly had one energy drink too many and was taunting Danny to have a go on the track which he declined to do… several time over.
Now for the embarrassing moment anyone who has done a Powerpoint presentation has endured at some point,how do you get the f'ing video to play? Just at the point when it seemed the litter of cans and bottles would have be hurled at the commentator we had moving pictures… just in time. After a couple of minutes of dirt jumping with Kye Forte, the audience piped up enough to remind the organisers to put the right video on or start the racing again. Any who, 7 and a half minutes later we had finished watching Danny McAskill's latest YouTube success which no doubt every person in York Hall had already seen many times during the course of a working day.
On last effort from the commentator saw him congratulating Chris Akrigg as the loser of the runner up final even though he hadn't raced the main yet. Chris won in a very convincing manner, catching his opponent, Christian Vollmer from Colgne, within 3 laps. Job done. All in all a fun event but more for the novelty factor and the sugary energy drink… and possibly the cans of Guiness."
… Just like being there. Thanks TR.
For his efforts the Mongoose sponsored Akrigg won a Gold (well, we're guessing "golden") Charge Plug frame which will go nicely with the one he won at the Frome Cobble Wobble last autumn. On that occasion he showed his ability to turn power and handling skills in to speed on a cobbled climb in the middle of the Somerset town - winning it by being fastest, and smoothest, through the corners. Those same skills served him well on Saturday night too. We're already looking forward to Minidrome 2… although a Midi Drome might be even better.
Those of us outside of London will get a chance to catch some Mini Drome too during 2011, as Red Bull say they will be touring it around the UK. As as we have more dates and info we'll let you know.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.