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Hundreds turn out for slow ride in the rain to support Brighton's Preston Park (+ video)

£300k needed to upgrade track so racing can resume

The campaign to restore Brighton's Preston Park cycle track slowed down at the weekend with the staging of a 'slow ride' to demonstrate the depth of feeling about the state of the tarmac velodrome.

Brighton and Hove News estimates that despite the rain, around 300 people turned out for Saturday's slow ride which was organised by Rupert Rivett of Sussex Cycle Racing League.

Preston Park needs an estimated £300,000 in repairs to bring it up to modern standards, including a new perimeter fence. In the meantime, it's closed for racing though Brighton and Hove Council say it remains popular for "non-competitive use".

The council and British Cycling say they are working together on a solution and sources of funding.

As well as riders of all ages on road bikes, mountain bikes and kids' bikes, the turnout included Labour’s parliamentary candidate Purna Sen, and leader of the Brighton and Hove Conservative group Geoffrey Theobald.

"I have been living here for 20 years and I have seen the track disintegrating and not being cared for and I would like that to change," Rivett told the BBC

"I would like British Cycling and the council to see the great opportunity they have to do something with this facility.

"We are trying to make them realise that people do care and they don't like what is happening."

Rivett told Brighton and Hove News: “Considering it was awful weather I think it went really well.

“We knew there is good support for the track from social media, but when people show up you know they really mean it.

“All those hundreds of cyclists aren’t going to stop until the track is repaired.”

Rivett says the track has been important for the development of young cycling talent. His campaign to restore the track is supported by local cycling legend Sean Yates.

"Cyclists that come from this track have gone on to become professionals," said Rivett"Without racing, which is the heart of it, we could see this track being lost."

Sean Yates said: "If it's gone, it's gone and that would be a great shame. It's a fantastic facility."

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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