Last week saw the return of the League’s annual visit to the Herne Hill Velodrome for a day of coaching on track bikes at the historic venue.
Always a favourite with our schools, it was great to be back after two years’ absence due to the pandemic.
Riders from four schools learnt the basics of riding track bikes — which have fixed wheels and no brakes — round the banked track.
They learned how to start and stop safely, how to pace themselves and control their distance from other riders, take turns at the front, and how to use the track’s banking to build speed.
It wouldn’t be right to go to Herne Hill and not actually take part in a race, so the day finished with an ‘English Pursuit’ team relay.
Stroud Green’s win in the League’s trophy competition — which had seemed already a certainty half way through the season — was secured last Friday with another emphatic win at Round 6 in Downhills Park.
The school notched up 250 points over the day’s 16 races — and won six of them.
North Harringay came second with 237 points. They were the best-performing school when it came to the finals, taking three B-finals and two A-finals.
Risley were close behind NHP with 233 points, despite only winning one race, the Boys’ 24” heat.
St. Aidan’s came fourth on the day in points, winning the Girls 26” B-final and the Boys 26” A-final.
Belmont struggled to compete with a reduced team of eight riders. That didn’t stop them winning the Boys 26” second heat, however, and they finished the day with 139 points.
See the full results and points-per-school.
With only each school’s best 5 rounds counting for the end-of-season tally, Stroud Green’s position at the top of the standings was beyond reach by the end of the day.
The five schools tackled another technically challenging course, with a series of tight turns and switchbacks compressed into a single, circular zone bounded by sweeping turns and a fast return straight.
We may hear a collective sigh of relief when the schools come back for the final round next month to find they’ll be racing on a simple oval course for a day of grass track racing, followed by the trophy presentation.
After missing out in the roller racing round in March, Stroud Green returned to the League last month to recover a healthy lead at the top of the standings in the trophy competition.
But it was North Harringay who stole the day on points and secured the most wins. The former champions dominated both the boys and girls 26” category heats, winning five out of the six races. But despite taking the Girls 26” A-final in a thrilling race to the line, they fell short in the Boys 26” A, beaten by strong rides from St. Aidan’s and Belmont.
Risley had similar success in the 24” category, taking wins in both the Boys and Girls heats, and the Girls 24” A-final. The Boys 24” A-final saw one of the closest League wins in years, with Risley and Stroud Green finishing in a dead heat that only transponders or photo-finish cameras could have separated.
St. Aidan’s had a good day, taking one of the Girls 24” heats, both 26” C-finals and the Boys 26” A-final.
St. Mary’s backed up their win in one of the Boys 24” heats with a first place in the Boys 26” B-final.
The schools raced three laps on a dry, fast-running course, negotiating a complex series of turns before a fast return straight. Riders needed to be first into the turns so as to avoid getting held up behind others in the technical section.
Riders who were more confident in the tight corners were obviously at an advantage — though some were adept at letting the lead rider stay in front until the final lap, when they moved ahead to take the sprint for the line.
With just one scoring round to go, this has become the closest competition in years. Stroud Green currently have an 89-point lead at the top, but only 26 points separate 2nd and 3rd places.
Only the top five rounds of each school will count in the trophy competition, so the final round could see some changes in the podium positions!
January’s postponed roller racing round took place last week at St. Mary’s CE Primary School.
Normally a winter event, when the local parks are too soggy for racing, roller racing is a great way of keeping schools racing through the cold and wet weather.
Five schools took part in the racing, using the League’s new set up with Kreitler roller racing stations, Frog track bikes and OpenSprints electronics and software.
Four riders at a time sprint over a virtual 500m on fixed bikes mounted on rollers, with progress displayed on a screen.
It’s fast — and loud!
Congratulations to St. Aidan’s Y6 boys for setting the fastest time of 30.24” — a time so fast we had to check the equipment was set up correctly!
North Harringay’s Y6s got the best girls time of 31.21”.
St. Aidan’s scored again with the fastest Year 4 time of the day, with 32.38” — the 8th fastest time out of a total of 49 riders across the three year groups.
Belmont and St. Mary’s had the fastest Y5 boy (32.93”) and girl (37.02”) respectively.
Risley were joint winners of the day with St. Aidan’s, notching up 248 points each.
This leaves the points competition delicately poised, with three schools within 30 points of each other – and just two points separating Belmont and North Harringay!
But this is all this likely to change over the next two rounds, as only each school’s top five rounds will get counted for the final tally.
Even so, this is shaping up to be the League’s closest competition in years.
League standings after the latest round.
Round 5 on 29th April will see a return to racing on grass at Downhills Park.
St. Aidan’s claimed an emphatic Round 4 points victory at Ducketts Common last Friday. Their riders won four races – including two B finals – and amassed 234 points to finish the day on top.
Only Stroud Green could come close in points (229), maintaining its customary control over the Girls 24” category to take both heats and the A final. Risley dominated in the Boys 24”, winning one of the heats and both finals.
North Harringay won the A final and two of the three heats in the Girls 26”. Belmont won the Girls 26” B final although, down one rider, they couldn’t repeat their Round 3 success and were overtaken by St. Mary’s in the day’s points.
With three more scoring rounds to go, the League standings after Round 4 have Belmont and North Harringay vying for position behind Stroud Green in the trophy competition.
But it’s not all about the points. The day saw some of the most exciting riding of this year’s League as riders negotiated an exceptionally twisty course with skill and determination, sometimes using techniques in the hairpins more at home in speedway.
No cornering skills needed for our next event, however, when the League will see a welcome return to roller racing.
Round 3 of the 2021-22 League saw a return to racing at Ducketts Common for the final event of the year.
Forty-five riders from five schools competed in a series of 15 races on a mercifully dry cyclo-cross course.
St. Aidan’s maintained their impressive form from the last round, winning all but one of their B-finals — despite fielding the smallest team of only seven riders.
North Harringay took the most race wins overall, including both the Boys 26” and Girls 26” A-finals. But it was Belmont’s consistency at finishing in the top three that saw them accrue the most points (252), just pipping Stroud Green’s 250 points to take the day.
Stroud Green’s lead in the overall standings remains unthreatened for now — though the race for second and third between Belmont and North Harringay is heating up.
League standings after Round 3
Round 4 — an indoor roller racing event postponed due to the pandemic — will be rescheduled in February.
Round 2 saw the second highest attendance in the League’s 9-year history, with 66 riders from seven schools taking part in 20 races on an MTB course in Finsbury Park.
The day also had one of the largest numbers of younger riders taking part, with most schools taking advantage of the bonus points on offer to Year 4s.
But the youngest year group didn’t need the help of points incentives to make their mark on the day. Year 4 riders took six race wins — two of them A-finals — and seven podium places in the finals.
Stroud Green continued to dominate the racing overall, taking 6 race wins and accruing 266 points.
Belmont and North Harringay tied for second place at 229 points, with NHP winning four races, including two finals.
St. Aidan’s won the most finals (3) and came third overall in the points tally, with 227 points.
League standings after Round 2
Special thanks to all schools, parents and volunteers for helping to make one of our largest race events a success.
The League’s first full season in three years got underway last Friday at Ducketts Common.
58 riders from six primary schools competed on a longer, albeit less technical, course than normal that proved to be an endurance test for riders more familiar with the tight turns and fast finishes of previous races.
Stroud Green, Belmont, North Harringay and Risley were joined by St. Mary’s (making a welcome return) and newcomers Ferry Lane.
Continuing their dominant form shown in our post-lockdown mini-series, Stroud Green won the day by a wide margin. They won eight of the day’s 16 races — including three out of four A-finals — to finish on 255 points.
Belmont and North Harringay came next, taking three races each and finishing with 210 and 199 points respectively.
Ferry Lane ended their first day’s racing with the League with 195 points, winning their Girls 26″ race and coming 2nd in the A-final.
St. Mary’s finished at 192 points, and were one of only two schools to include year 4 riders in their team. They won their Boys 24″ race, and notched up an impressive five 2nd places across the day’s events.
Fielding a team of only eight riders, Risley were at a disadvantage compared to larger teams and finished the day with 178 points.
Round 2 will be at Finsbury Park on 5th November.
League standings after Round 1