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Little off road Olympic legacy at Eastway

Jenny Copnall at Beastway where she starts a men’s race
packed with London tax payers who have been ignored

Jenny Copnall’s sorrow
National MTB champion and top London MTB club call for mountain biking to be
restored at the post-Olympic Velopark

Amid mounting concern over the value of London’s Legacy from the Games, The
Olympic Development Agency announced plans on 5th Feb for the post-Olympic Velopark
(2013+). These now show, to the dismay of London’s mountain bikers, that there
will be no replacement for the popular full-size mountain bike circuit that
until last year stood on the OIympic site in the Lee Valley.

Mountainbike Cross Country is an Olympic Sport, but it will derive no legacy
from the Games. Its only London venue has already closed to make way for the
Olympic Park. Riders are still awaiting any temporary replacement as delays
hit the agreed strategy for relocation.

Previous legacy plans, including those shown to the IOC at the time of its
final imspection always indicated that mountainbiking would return to the site.
Planning conditions also apply to the permissions given for the Games, which
are intended to ensure a return of mountainbike to the site in legacy.

Known as the Eastway Cycle Circuit, the venue was demolished in November after
14 years of mountain biking (30 years of cycling) to make way for the Games’
development. Eastway was the only offroad venue serving inner London and a place
where thousands of cyclists, youth, veteran and international, have ridden and
raced mountain bikes. The largest mountainbike series in the country took place
at Eastway, making full use of over 6km of trails.

As part of the public consultation, the Eastway User Group (EUG) is publishing
two statements that support the call for the restoration of the full-size circuit
on the site. One is from the current British MTB champion Jenny Copnall, a Londoner
who learned her sport at Eastway, and the other from Brixton Cycles, the London
bike shop club which sponsored and raced in the Eastway MTB series for over
10 years.

Women are an important part of Beastway MTB (Also London
tax payers)

From Jenny Copnall, reigning British MTB champion:
"It is with sorrow and concern that I heard from the Eastway Users’ Group
of the ODA’s decision not to provide mountain bike racers with an adequate facility
in the Legacy Park after the Olympics have taken place.

"I fully expect the spectacle of the mountain bike cross country event
at the 2012 Olympics to bring more young riders into our fantastic sport, many
likely to be from the London area. It is essential that these potential future
Olympians have access to grassroots competition in a safe yet challenging environment.

"Eastway has, until now, provided this, and played a pivotal role in my
introduction and development as a young racer. It means a great deal to me that
future generations of riders in the London area are able to enjoy the same opportunities
that I did. The Eastway mountain bike events not only whet the appetites of
new racers, they also provide newcomers with a social hub of knowledge and experience,
which is crucial for development.

"The London area is not blessed with offroad riding places. In view of
this I feel that it is very important that the finest example be reinstated,
albeit with the break period during the Games, so that for those who wish to
become mountain bike racers can do so, without their urban roots hindering their

From Brixton Cycles,
11 years the Eastway mountain bike series sponsor:

"From 1995 to 2006 Brixton Cycles was series sponsor of the summertime
mountain bike series at the Eastway Cycle Circuit. On Wednesday evenings after
the shop closed, a group of us would ride the 7.5 miles (45 mins) from the shop
in Brixton through the traffic to the circuit. We’d race, have a good tough
time, go to the pub and ride home.

Oh, look, more tax payers who are being sidelined!

"The series involved 1000s of riders and 30 clubs and ran for over a decade.
It was the hub, the centre, the focus of the capital’s mountain biking and culture.

"Now it is gone, sacrificed to the Olympic Games, and looks likely never
to return. The planned offroad area of the post-Olympic Velopark has shrunk
to the size of a playground big enough only for obstacles and a children’s/beginner
circuit. Eastway’s testing full-size circuit of banks, berms, mounds and copses,
on which grassroots and Olympians raced is no more.

"We cannot get to Hog Hill, the interim site in the Borough of Redbridge,
as it is too far away. It lies a further 7.5miles from Brixton Cycles, a 15
mile, 1.5 hour ride each way on heavily-trafficked roads. It is beyond the reach
of the central and southern London riders. Those who raced at Eastway and live
in Lambeth, Southwark, Westminster, Camden, Paddington, Kentish Town, Deptford,
Greenwich, Lewisham and Enfield have lost their venue and their sport.

"Brixton Cycles, along with the other inner and central clubs, has been
deprived of its London mountain bike ground and looks likely never to race offroad
again in the city. We call on the ODA to reinstate a full-size mountain bike
course at the post-Olympic Velopark, without which the park is missing a vital
component. The Olympics cannot finish off a London sport like this."

Road circuit and some off road squeezed in (Nice velodrome
though, shame we can’t have both)

The Eastway story
The Eastway Cycle Circuit was inner London’s only legal offroad competition
venue and a place where thousands of people, of all ages and backgrounds, have
enjoyed all types of riding and racing for over 30 years. It offered a mile
of challenging road circuit and extensive off-road trails. For the last 14 years
Eastway was the venue for the country’s largest weekly mountain bike race series.
‘Beastway’ became a proven training ground for many of our national champions
in the Olympic discipline of Mountain Bike Cross-Country. Six regular Eastway
riders in the youth and junior categories are British 1 ranked riders or national
champions this year.

Eastway closed for Olympic demolition in November 2006. There is still no replacement
and it seems riders will have to wait until May 2007 for anything at all. The
main interim provision at Hog Hill out in Hainault is too far for inner Londoners
to travel to, and its guaranteed funding ends with the Games. The people who
pursue this Olympic sport in east London have moved to make way for the Games,
but now are set to lose any guaranteed venue because of the Games.

Riders object to new plans for 2013 which now show a legacy with no mountain
bike cross-country provision at all. The ‘Velopark’ that was announced to the
IOC before London won the Games showed world-class provision for road and off-road

This was needed to replace what was lost from the site since the Olympic sports
of mountain bike and road race were so successful on the site before it was
demolished. No fewer than six Eastway youth and junior riders are current national
champions. Eastway was a proven training ground for developing our best hopes
for 2012 and beyond.

An announcement was made in February 2005, just two days before the IOC inspection
visit to approve London’s bid. The release can be read in full at
and more can be read about its place in London’s bid at
. These clearly indicate the velopark’s extent, facilities and its place in
ensuring that London’s Games would be ‘legacy led’ – Eastway Users Group is
a recognised stakeholder in the Olympic planning process and it is now asking
about those legacy promises which did so much to win London’s bid.

Eastway Users Group argue, "To be of value, London’s Olympic Legacy must
at least help the sport that was formerly pursued on the site where the Games
will take place.

Lord Coe has been made aware of the concerns of riders by letter. A copy of
the letter is available upon request to EUG by email [email protected]

Our Group calls upon the national and regional government in control of building
the Games and makes an appeal to the IOC to take a long hard look at the way
in which the ODA is developing the Olympic Park into something other than the
vehicle for London‚s Lasting Legacy to Sport. The people who actually did
cycle sport so successfully on the site of the Games deserve a legacy. After
all, they have had to give up so much for the Games and the bid was won on the
promise of a legacy for cycle sport."

Michael Humphreys
Chair, Eastway Users Group


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