Amateur Events

VeloJam 2013 Women’s only track racing back at Herne Hill Velodrome

Want to try track racing? Why not give VeloJam a go?

Building on the success of the inaugural VeloJam in 2012, the women’s only day of track racing is set to return to Herne Hill Velodrome on Saturday 5 October. 

There’s something for everyone at AnaNichoola VeloJam 2013, from experienced racers, to complete novices, even those who don’t want to jump in the saddle – everyone is welcome and catered for.

AnaNichoola VeloJam 2013 is being brought to you by Team MuleBar Girl – Sigma Sport, who – as well as competing regularly on the national road circuit – work tirelessly to share their passion and encourage more women to take up cycling.

Inspired by local track meets such as the Dave Creasy Memorial and Good Friday, Team MuleBar Girl wanted to make grass roots level racing more accessible, while at the same time create an event that made track racing more competitive among women.

Critics said categorised track racing for women couldn’t be done but with a 50-strong field including novice riders up to the best of Elite British females the 2012 VeloJam event was a huge success and showcased A, B and C racing for the first time in the UK.

This year’s event is set to be bigger and better and thanks to the generosity of headline sponsor AnaNichoola, Sigma Sport and Cicla, there will be over £1000 in cash prizes available on the night. What’s more there will be even more products up for grabs from Hope, Oakley, Wildoo, MuleBar, Bicycle Film Festival, Batiste and Madison.

Adding to the party vibe the racing will take place on a Saturday night under Herne Hill Velodrome’s new floodlights and it’s absolutely free for spectators. Wine and beer will be flowing and the racing predicted to be close-fought at every level.

There’ll be events for every lady all the way up from non-licence holding Go-Riders to A category professional riders. There’ll even be a Madison this year, a fantastic race to watch, paired riders take turns to hand-sling each other into the bunch. Expect the music and adrenaline to be pumping – all this and much more action not to be missed.

Leigh Marshall, who helps run Filles-a-Velo club to promote female participation in the amateur sport of cycling in Scotland attended VeloJam 2012 – was bowled-over by the whole event and wanted to share her experience of the day.

VeloJam 2012.  I’ll be honest I’m not entirely sure where to begin.  The whole day completely blew me away, and that is no exaggeration.

When Anna Glowinski (the very clever lady behind Ana Nichoola and Team MuleBar Girl rider) and Wiesia Kuczaj (another Team MuleBar Girl member) first told me about their idea for VeloJam the idea thrilled me to the core.

A celebration of women’s track racing.  Women, pitting themselves competitively against each other in a racing environment, while having fun and revelling in each other’s company.  Feeling empowered as a group of women.

Some – okay – many cooed,

A women’s only track meet? You’ll never get the numbers!

But build it and they will come – and come they did, in exciting numbers across all the categories.  However, it wasn’t the A cats field that excited me the most. It was the novice riders.  Some of who had NEVER raced on a track until that day. Proving their mettle for the duration.

Everyone got into the spirit of racing at VeloJam 2012. Photo © AE Photos

Don’t panic though – I’m not going to give a blow-by-blow account of how each race unfolded.  It would take forever to read and quite frankly, be a bit too repetitive. Attack, shut down, attack, shut down, attack, 2 lap gap, shut down, attack – you get the idea.

Safe to say though, that the racing was fast and furious (I make no apologies for the cliché) with aggressive riding and constant attacking throughout the ENTIRE race meet, in all categories.

During the scratch and points races, the bunch worked tirelessly and tactically to bring back attack after attack.  With the escapee(s) only ever staying away for a few laps before being brought back.  Yes, there really was that much attacking going on and in a women’s race meet too. Who knew?

We saw some really bold and purposeful racing throughout the 2 lap dash heats and again in the finals.  With many screaming legs afterwards. 

Similarly, in the devil race we saw a vigorous pace in both the A and B category races (there was no Go-Ride category race).  With some incredibly close results each lap and riders working really hard tactically not to be eliminated, the bell lap in each race providing a truly gritty fight to the line by the remaining riders.

All the thrills and spills you would expect of racing were at VeloJam 2012. Photo © AE Photos

It will be of no surprise to read that the brucey bonus scratch race at the end of the meet was contested with the same zeal.  With spot primes happening at no set regularity, the pace was rapido.  Riders were ferociously chased down by the bunch should they dare to jump off the front.  It was a thrilling end to a spectacular day’s racing.

VeloJam was not an exercise in “paying lip service” to women’s racing – every single woman who entered, raced.  And did so up to her own personal limit. Boundaries were pushed by all.  There was no sitting up and pootling round because it was a bit difficult.  Each and every woman challenged herself and her adversaries.

Of course none of Anna’s and Wiesia’s visions for Velo Jam could have been achieved without immense support from an array of people, businesses, organisations.  This cohort worked in unison through Wiesia (the VeloJam ringleader) to ensure all the plans were implemented.

If the mission was to create a celebration of women’s racing in a carnival type atmosphere, with zest and gutsy performances, then the girls should be very proud, as that is exactly what it accomplished.

There was an extensive volume of prizes – both in cash and products.  It wasn’t just the overall winners who won, spot prizes were awarded too.  There was music, provided by Red Bull and refreshments to help fuel competitors and spectators.  Even the weather played by the rules – well if you discount the strong gusts of wind – it stayed dry until the prize giving, with the odd sunny spell.

VeloJam 2012 showed there is a clear need for women-only track racing in addition to the mixed racing that already exists.  Women voted with their feet by entering – if the demand were not there, the number of entrants wouldn’t have been so high.

Inspired? Then get entering!

With under two weeks to go until the big night there’s still time to get your entries in!

Entries are £15 in advance and £20 on the day.

To enter and for further information, please visit the British Cycling website.

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