What with recent Olympic and Tour de France success, it's difficult to imagine the profile of cycling in this country being much larger. You might not know that London has an annual race to call its own – roll forward the London Nocturne which takes place around Smithfield Market on Saturday 8 June.
The action starts around 4pm with support races, such as the folded bike race where, dressed in commuter attire, the cyclists must run to their bikes, unfold them, and then race for the title. There is also an obstacle race, and the unusual sight of watching a penny farthing race.
This is all a prelude to the main events, the elite women's and men's criteriums, which finish the schedule. A criterium works exactly the same way as a stage of the Tour or the Giro, except the whole route is confined to the short circuit around the market building. You get to see the riders pass multiple times and are better able to follow the racing action.
The men's criterium in recent years has had a bit of pedigree, with winners going on to bigger things. Champions include Alex Dowsett who won a couple of years back, and has just won the first time trial stage of this years Giro d'Italia. This time round, the women's race should be the big talking point, with a start list that features all three riders from the 2012 Olympic gold medal winning track pursuit team: Dani King, Joanna Rowsell and Laura Trott.
The atmosphere is always been excellent, with approximately 10,000 people attending last year. Grandstand seats are available now, or you could do what most people do, which is line up somewhere on the route, from where the event is free.
The IG London Nocturne takes place around Smithfield Market on the 8 June with the first race at 4pm. Get grandstand tickets here.
By John Wilkes. Image by the author.