Ever since we did our first custom bike show in 2013, we've talked about doing an event where bikes are ridden and not just static - and not just for custom bike aficionados and fans. Events like DirtQuake, El Rollo, the Punks Peak Sprint Race at Wheels & Waves and The Malle Mile were an inspiration, but we felt something was missing. ... Not everyone has the skills, or the right bike, to slide around a dirt oval next to some gnarly pros, and some of the sprint racing was getting a bit too serious for many of us. Meanwhile, no-one was doing anything for road-bike riders who just want to ride fast on tarmac and get a taste of the race vibe, but without the pressure to win-it or bin-it.
For a couple of years we talked about a proper end-of-summer Festival, based around a beautiful countryside track, with the usual attention to detail in organisation and staffing. We also thought the event needed a crowd, not just to watch the action on track, but properly looked after with some of the same brands, bars, food & drink that we lay on for our Tobacco Dock show, and plenty going on to make it an inclusive family friendly event, worth going to, even if you didn't know any of the racers. Brands could offer test rides, we could get some celebs to do laps, and we'd lay on live music and entertainment.
So, last year we created a one-day event, the Café Racer Cup. It was small, but epic, and for many of us it was the best day of the year.
One year on, the Bike Shed Festival is born, and we've even roped in Malle London to bring and run the Malle Trails - a taster of their annual event at Kevington Hall.
For spectators, it's a proper day (or weekend) away with loads going on, on and off the track and dirt, and plenty of places to hang out and watch the races, or picnic on the grass, lounge on deckchairs or sit around drinking beer and eating good food with friends and family. There's access to the pics and paddock, and everyone is part of the event.
For riders and racers, it's a chance to take part in proper racing, but with low expectations and modest lap-times, amongst friends and away from the pros and semi-pros. We've tried to create a track event for everyone who does not own a modern sports-bike (as they already have other options) so we're all on a level playing field. Warmup laps are timed, and a grid is assembled in speed order, for classes of race that shouldn't see anyone pushing beyond their limits. It's all about fun and experience - racing for people who have never raced, or probably never even been on a track... which, by the way, is one of the safest riding environments there is.
Tarmac race classes include:
The Café Racer Cup - For proper modern, custom and retro cafe racers, with clip-ons, single seats and rearset pegs, with round, oval or square headlight, and no full fairing,
The Street Cup - For naked street bikes, custom or standard, (but not supernakeds or faired sportbikes).
The Easy Rider Cup - For chopper, bobber, custom, cruiser, high-bar and feet-forward roadsters.
The Herald L-Plate Cup - for newbies on 125s.
The Vintage Cup - For proper vintage bikes, with owners not quite keen enough to race at the VMCC.
The Journo Cup - for Journos and ex champs on borrowed (press fleet) bikes. (...to keep them out of the amateur races)
We also have a part tarmac/part dirt race, the Retro-Supermoto/Dirt Bike Cup for Scramblers, Street Trackers and older twin shock supermotos.
And last but definitely not least, we have teamed up with the Malle boys for the Malle Trails, which will feature two race events per day with three classes each, all taking place on the big hill on the inside elbow of the track.
Just as important as the racing, is the Festival Event itself, which is definitely emailed at providing a great day out for spectators. We have camping grounds with decent showers and facilities onsite, plus glamping in Bell tents (limited supply), and you can also bring your RV/camper etc. There will be loads of food and drink, as per our London show, lots of brands and retail, entertainment and lots of space to hang out.
There's loads more info on the festival website at BikeShedFestival.com, but we do ask that if you can, please do buy your tickets in advance. It will help us plan for a better experience for everyone, and make sure we have plenty of food, drink and space for everyone who attends. London is only 90-minutes away from the Lydden Hill track, but popping up the road for more beer won't be an option, and we expect a decent crowd after last year's Cafe Racer Cup. So help us put on a great event and book your tickets on the next page you visit after this one.