Carlisle Cycling Association, alongside Beacon Wheelers cycling club, will be bringing the exciting sport of grass-track racing to Silloth Green for the first time.
It will be staged as part of the Solway Coast Festival of Cycling on Saturday, September 11.
What, you may be wondering, is grass-track? It is a traditional, but no longer well-known, type of bike racing in which riders compete on track bikes with one single, fixed gear and no brakes, similar to the bikes you will have seen ridden on the velodrome at the Olympics recently.
However, rather than on a banked velodrome the racing takes place on a flat grass track, so the bikes have off-road tyres for extra grip.
Racing is fast and exciting and requires strength and skill. Quite a number of well-known cyclists including Olympic gold medal winners Victoria Pendleton and Katie Archibald and current professional riders Ellie Dickinson and Mark Donovan, both former Beacon Wheelers, honed their skills on the grass-track in their younger years.
Grass-track racing was previously a popular event at many agricultural shows and village sports days but it has become less popular with time.
The only remaining grass-track meets in Cumbria are Ambleside Sports and Egremont Crab Fair, both of which were cancelled this year.
CCA are therefore very grateful to the festival organisers and Silloth Town Council for this opportunity to help preserve the sport and hopefully entertain festival visitors.
The current crop of local grass-track riders, hopefully joined by others from around the country, will be racing over a variety of distances between midday and 3.45pm, culminating with the traditional and exciting race “The Devil Takes the Hindmost” in which the last rider in each lap is eliminated.
Obviously, these races are for experienced riders only – riding a bike with no brakes quickly, close to others on grass takes practice – but to give local children a taste of this kind of riding, the main races will be interspersed with informal children’s races ridden on regular bikes. It’s an opportunity for spectators to join in.
CCA are still looking for sponsors to provide prizes for the riders and to help with costs of safety equipment for the racing.