The Mildenhall Cycling Rally rolls into the Suffolk town this weekend bringing with it thousands of cyclists from across the UK. The three-day cycling extravaganza (Saturday 29th – Monday 31st August 2009) is based at the Riverside Middle School in Mildenhall. "Underlining the popularity of the Rally is the fact that the campsite for caravans and tents in the grounds of the school completely sold out in July. We are also aware that there aren’t many vacancies left at local B&B’s, hotels and other campsites," said Mark Burchett, on behalf of the organisers, Mildenhall Cycling Club.
Photo from the GEM Grass Track meeting earlier in the year.
The Mildenhall Cycling Rally, now in its 23rd year, has a range of cycling events on offer from a gentle 5-mile walk and touring routes, to the thrills and spills of top grass-track racing. There is very strong emphasis on events for the family and children on the self-contained site, with day visitors also very welcome. The grass-track, which forms the centre piece of the Rally, has already attracted a top class field of nearly 100 riders, who will be competing for their share of the larger than usual £2,500 prize list! This has been possible due to the sponsorship by regular supporter of the Rally, Elmy Cycles from Ipswich.
The highlights are expected to be the final rounds of the National Short-Distance and Endurance Leagues. The organisers are also very encouraged that the numbers of ladies and under 16 year olds entered continues to grow, with the largest ever entry expected. After a 10-year absence, Roller-Racing returns to the Mildenhall Rally. "This is entirely down to the enthusiasm and time spent by the Maldon and District CC who spent the winter restoring our set of rollers so that they could once again be used for competition. We are really delighted by what they have done and cannot wait for what is sure to be an exciting evening’s racing on the Sunday," explained Mark Burchett.
Other competitive events will include an early season Cyclo-Cross, run on a Madison basis where the teams of two ride alternate laps, while especially for the under 17’s there will be the Children’s Duathlon, which takes place all within the Rally grounds. Every day there will be the Children’s Sports, while on the Sunday and Monday for the younger visitor to the Rally, there will be the bouncy castle and face painter. Additionally on the Monday there will be a children’s entertainer, Adam Strange, with his Magic and Puppet Shows! All of these are also completely free of charge.
Although there is a charge of £3 per rider, the Children’s Skill-Tests now offer much more. Aimed at the under 16 year olds, they have been re-vamped under the title of ‘Skilful Riding’ which will be run under British Cycling’s Go-Ride banner, by Bury St Edmunds based West Suffolk Wheelers.
Despite the economic downturn, the two-day Trade Show (Sunday and Monday) will once again be full with over 30 cycling organisations and companies represented. "It has been harder this year to attract traders in these uncertain times but we are very pleased that we will continue to have one of the biggest trade-shows in the UK open to the public." admitted Mark Burchett.
On the touring front, Suffolk DA (District Association) of the Cyclists Touring Club will be organising 100, 200 and 300km Audax Rides on the Saturday. For those that want something more relaxing, the Mildenhall Club have expanded the range of touring leaflets, it introduced so successfully at last year’s Rally.
The Cycle Jumble on Saturday will be packed out with a record number of tables sold which is bound to increase the amount of bargains on offer. For the quiz buffs there will once again be the Sunday Quiz Night held in the recently refurbished Mildenhall Cricket Club, with regular quizmaster Dave Sennitt keeping order in his own inimitable style.
Entry for day visitors and car parking are both free, with the event AA signposted. More information about everything taking place at the Rally can be found on www.mildenhallrally.org.uk.