News: Rollapaluza National Series London with U34


Paul Burgoine takes a trip to London’s trendy Hoxton Square Bar to watch the highly charged world of roller-racing

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After spending the past few months standing around in muddy fields or on the Flemish coast line watching Cyclo-Cross, a trip to London’s trendy Hoxton Square Bar to watch the highly charged world of roller-racing was a welcome change.

Racing in a pub, great idea, so great it could have possibly been invented by Belgians, well the beer part anyway. This was the second night of qualification for the National Series leading up to the grand finale in a few weeks’ time.

For those new to roller-racing I will set the scene for you, basically you have to race over 500m on a fixed gear (that always seems to small) it is as basic as one person on a red bike and the other on a blue one behind you a huge dial tracks your progress over the distance, sounds easy but believe me its possibly the most painful 24 seconds or so 26 in my case that you will experience on a bike, the first 15 seconds feel ok but then bang!

It gets unbelievable difficult to the point that most of the time you don’t even realise what’s going on and it all becomes a blur one tweet on the night said “Hurts the legs in places you didn’t know you had places”.


The previous evening in Bristol’s Mud Dock there was one man to whom 500m was a fraction of what he has ridden in the past twelve months, Mike Hall had raced around the world and won…in doing so he broke the previous record by almost two weeks completing the 24.900 miles in 92 days averaging around 200miles a day. Mike was no slouch on the rollers either setting a time for 500m at 22.11 quite an achievement for a proven endurance rider.

Other long distance cyclists that have graced the Rollapaluza rigs are Mark Beaumont and famously James Bowthorpe who if I remember correctly rode for 24hrs in the window front of London cycling café ‘Look Mum No Hands’ on a set of Rollapaluza rollers.

Roller racing in its present form is without a doubt as much about the social side of cycling as it is the racing, the participants range from Lycra clad racers, office workers, couriers and people in the audience who simply just fancy a go. Your first experience of the rollers is like waiting to go on a roller coaster you are filled with uncertainty and worry, but once you have had your first taste of pain most people can’t wait to get back on to better their times, or to beat a mate.

Music plays a big part in the evening’s entertainment with the tunes matching the intensity of the racing and keeping the crowd entertained in a sense you don’t need to participate to have a good time, or even know much about cycling.

Riders are given the chance to post a qualifying time and you can have as many goes at this before the cut of time. After 9pm the top sixteen riders go head to head with the fastest against the slowest as in normal sprint competitions until you are left with only two. These head to head races really get the audience going and the atmosphere builds and builds throughout the evening, loudhailers are left on the stage for the crowd to shout down and get behind the racers.

The evening was well attended with around 60 or so men racing and about 12 or so women who competed to win prizes from U34’s exciting clothing and apparel range and vouchers from local bike shop East Central Cycles but many more there just to enjoy the evening.

Unfortunately last year’s winner of the men’s title BMX rider Rob Read had to pull out with a back injury while he was warming up but there were still some fast times on the night from both the men and the women.

If you get a chance to go to a Rollapaluza race night give it a try I’m sure you won’t be disappointed, I mean would could be better than beer, music and bike racing.


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