As part of ‘London Prepares’ Hadleigh was turned into a trial Olympic venue for one day.
The people descended on Hadleigh Farm clutching picnic baskets and blankets along temporary paths laid across the fields; it was like a scene from some mythical gathering. Red London buses glinted in the strong sunshine amongst the hay bales and cows. In the distance Leigh-on-Sea was hosting a fishing festival and Benfleet creek peeked through the heat haze. It was surreal and yet wonderful!
The announcer started by forgetting where he was, and then demanded the crowd “make some noise and get excited” in between blasts of rap music. A little too reminiscent of Alan Partridge for my taste. It did not spoil the day, as the crowd cheered and clapped when they felt like it, and the sounds of “What a Wonderful World” as we left Hadleigh Farm, suggested the magic of the venue had mellowed even the London-based organisers.
The Women’s event started at 11am and the Men’s at 2pm. The course was well planned, with fantastic viewing points, and I am sure next year will be a huge success. Unfortunately this will be my only experience of the Mountain Bike competition as, in common with many locals, I have not got a ticket for next August!
Below, my photo story of the Hadleigh Farm Mountain Bike International: