The second ever London Youth Track League drew to a close just before Easter. 28 Lee Valley Youth riders took part this year out of a total of 119 riders from clubs across the south-east, including Colchester Rovers, Charlotteville, VC Londres, Welwyn Wheelers, Preston Park and Team Milton Keynes.
For those taking part every other Thursday since November has meant track league – timing school runs, food, work and journeys to Stratford to make sure the riders were there – riding the rollers in the track centre – at the Lee Valley Velodrome by 6:15pm, ready to start the competition at 7. This wasn’t always easy, to say the least, but once you were there it was worth it.
The league is organised into 5 groups – loosely based on BC categories in the November – juniors, U16, U14, Girls and U12. There is some flexibility based on ability – for example U14s who performed well last year started the league in the U16 group to try and provide a good level of competition for everyone. The U12s group is small as riders have to be fully accredited to compete, and it is not possible to start the 4 stage velodrome accreditation process before your 12th birthday. You also need your own track bike, or a long term club hire bike, as you can’t compete on velodrome hired bikes.
Each group had 4 races every week – the content varied but usually consisting of a scratch race, an elimination or win out, a 1k dash and a points race. There were a couple of special format evenings with madison races, team pursuits and keirins. The first 6 in each race were awarded league points.
For spectators the racing is fast and exciting with plenty of drama to watch, plus the stands are comfortable and there’s no weather uncertainty. I’m also quite keen on the musical accompaniment. For the riders there’s race experience to be gained – testing out tactics and using the skills learnt in the Club and Cluster Group Tracks sessions. Plus there’s a coveted Gold Leader’s Jersey on offer for each group.
The full league results for 2016 are available on the LYTL website at www.lytl.co.uk, this also gives details of how to register and the accreditation requirement.
First in group 4 this year was Rahul Fortescue Talwar (Preston Park), followed by Lance Childs (Thanet) and third Luke Prenelle (LVYCC). Group 3 was won by Nick Day (Team Milton Keynes) followed by Dexter Mansel-Thomas (LVYCC) and third Max Bolton (LVYCC). Group 2 winner was Alexi Edwards (Preston Park), followed by Santiago CaDavid and Oscar Nilsson Julien, (VC Londres). Louis Bilyard (LVYCC) took fourth place. First in Group 1 was Ethan Vernon (Corley), second was Theo Modell (Corley) and third was William Raymond (Welwyn Wheelers). Top LVYCC finisher was James Ambrose-Parish in sixth. The Girls Group was won by Alice Matravers (VC Londres), followed by Becky Surridge (VC Londres) and Sophie Lewis (CC Ashwell). Kate Wootton was the top LVYCC girl in fifteenth.
There are more track events to come over the next few months, beginning with the 4 round Omnium competition – round 1 to be hosted by LVYCC at the Lee Valley Velodrome on 23rd April. Volunteers are needed to help out at this event. Please contact Gino Howe if you are able to help out (firstname.lastname@example.org). There will also be rounds at the outdoor velodromes at Welwyn, Herne Hill and Brighton. Welwyn Track League also starts the 2016 season on April 29th. This is held every Friday evening. Riders need Welwyn accreditation to take part in this – there are sessions on Monday evenings for riders who wish to be assessed for accreditation – see the Welwyn Wheelers website for details: http://welwynwheelers.org.uk/sessions
There can’t be many young people across the country who get the chance to compete regularly in such an iconic venue. It wouldn’t have happened without so many volunteers giving up their time and expertise to create a competitive environment with clear race structure, expert judging and smooth running of the race programme. I’m really grateful to the London Youth Track League organisers for the time and energy they’ve put in to organise the league. It has been a fantastic experience.
As a parent I’d also like to thank all the Lee Valley Youth coaches and coordinators who have made the track sessions possible and given so many riders the skills and confidence they need to get involved.
The photos shown here were taken by Rebecca Torrie, a photography student who has made good use of her time watching her cycling siblings Tim and Issy – taking hundreds of photos of this year’s track league – all of which are better than anything I could take. It’s surprising just how hard it is to take good photos in the velodrome. All her photos are available to view and buy on her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Rebecca-Torrie-Cycling-Photography