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Cycling on the road to nowhere

Users of the former Eastway Cycling facility in East London are currently protesting against plans for the 2012 Olympic Velo-park which they say will leave them without a facility for mountain bike racing in London. Pull up a chair, this is a long ol' story...

We've been following the to-and-fro argument between the Eastway Users' Group and British Cycling (and the Olympic organisers) closely. To be honest, much of it is political shuffling and angry name calling. But one thing we've been able to glean from the many, many emails between the two is that due to expanded housing plans for the Olympic village, the planned provision for mountain biking at the former Eastway is currently a token 900m track - a far cry from the 2-3 mile loops that were raced on weekly by many mountain bikers from London and afar. Current plans for a replacement circuit centre centre on Hog Hill, near Hainalt, seven miles from Eastway's East London site. Funding for this has currently only been guaranteed until 2012.

This isn't good enough in our biased opinion, most of us having raced there in the past. But with the aim of token fairness, we're reprinting press releases from both sides below...

Some Eastway riders went to hand in letters objecting to the Olympic legacy plans on Saturday 17th March 2007.

Starting from near to The Royals, the temporary replacement for Eastway which is never going to open, riders made it their first stop to look at the undeveloped site which has left them with no road-racing season so far.

Then it was on up to the offices of the ODA (Olympic Delivery Authority) to hand in letters of objection to the planning decisions team. Staff at the building refused to accept the letters and started to get heavy, so the group moved off to City Hall.

A photo call provided evidence of what a happy community is now without any facility for its sport and the social interaction which comes with doing a sport. Many reflected on what has been lost, before it was time for riders who would have been training, racing and having fun at Eastway to go their separate ways once more. Some left for races at Hillingdon, others for Milton Keynes some went out to ride at Epping Forest and the rest? – well they just went home and wondered what it takes to keep Olympic sport going in London these days.

Placards calling for “More Olympic Sport – mountainbike, road race and time-trial” summed up what people feel. They haven’t been asked for their views and they have lost out yet they are the ones who were doing Olympic sports so successfully in East London. There will be no replacement for mountain bike competition, while the road circuit for racing and time-trialling will do more harm than good to those sports and the people doing them.

Coming so close after London’s Olympic budget more than tripled, conversations wondered on;-
- Where has all the land and all the money gone?
- Where is the Olympic legacy for the three Olympic sports which started out on the site of the Olympic Park?
- Where is the continuity our athletes need? – This is a season which has never started since Eastway closed and there is nowhere else to ride
- What has happened to the promises that were made before London won the bid and took the land?
- What does it take for cycle sport to be represented by people who can speak up for it?

From: Eastway Users At Odds With Olympic Plans, Singletrack, 21 3 07

More (including a long press statement from British Cycling which is a masterpiece of vacuous blah) at: Singletrack

See also: Jenny Copnall's Sorrow

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