This is the fifth running of the Eastbourne Cycling Festival and this year’s packed programme is stuffed full of quirky events; just what you’d expect from a visit to the British seaside. With a full programme on both days, you could see just how many events you can do in a weekend and then reward yourself with a slap up fish and chip supper!
The 2016 Eastbourne Cycling Festival kicks off with an Mtb sportive, heading out over the South Downs, while back in the main arena the Tristore/HUUB Duathlon will see competitors tackling a 2.8k run, followed by an 18k bike section onto Beachy Head, followed by another 2.8k run. Final event for the day is the Beachy Head time trial. This 3k climb up to Beachy Head is a local favourite and will see many eager to claim that first place and the bragging rights that go with it!
While all that sweaty, competitive stuff is going on back down in the arena there will be plenty to keep you distracted. Among some of the diversions available will be; Pump Traxx so the kids can show you up with their “mad skillz”! Skills sessions from British Cycling and their Go-Ride team. Trials Addict will be showing off on BMX bikes and doing things that their mum probably said they shouldn’t, but secretly we all wish we could. There will also be displays from the East Sussex Fire & Rescue and Eastbourne Police, plenty of opportunities to eat and drink, sounds provided by local DJ and a trade village, showing off cycling goodies.
Sunday will see the Velopace Beachy Head sportive kick of the day. Three routes of 65, 45 and 23 miles offer riders of all abilities a chance to ride. Start and finish is from the event centre on Eastbourne’s Western Lawns. All riders will get the chance to ride over the iconic Beachy Head loop, so make sure you bring your climbing legs. The long and middle route will also take in the climb up to Bo Peep Bostal, it’s a road to nowhere, but fortunately there’s a feed to refresh yourself while taking in the view.
Once the sportive riders are off the criterium racers take over. With races for women, 3rd category riders, the South East Regional Youth Championships and a 4th category race, you’d think that was enough racing for the day, but no. The organisers Velopace have thrown in some quirky little races to remind you this is the seaside. So amongst the earnest lycra clad roadies, you will also notice a touch of tweed and maybe the odd pinstripe, why? Because there will also be races for Penny Farthings and folding bikes. If you have never seen the quite frankly frightening sight of a bunch of Ordinaries screaming into a sharp corner, with their riders perched impossibly high on their steeds, then get down to the 2016 Eastbourne Cycling Festival! And let’s face it, who can’t help but be amused by grown ups racing on folding bikes?
Last event of the day is the Urban Beach Cross. This event is a fast paced race that uses the grass arena area, the Promenade and even takes a short trip onto the beach, hope the tide is out! With races for seniors and youths, there’s a chance for everyone to race and beer hand-ups aren’t discouraged. Watching last year’s senior race was a ding-dong battle between a ‘cross rider and an Mtb. The lead constantly changed hands and watching their different techniques through the pebbles was fascinating. The fact that they managed a beer during the race was even more impressive. Get down to the 2016 Eastbourne Cycling Festival and ride as many events as you can, and make sure you finish with the Urban Beach Cross and a beer! Watch the videos below to get a flavour of the weekend.