Red Bull got it spot-on when it took over Bristol city centre on Saturday night with its quirky interpretation of a hill-climb. Hundreds of spectators were packed four-deep all the way up Park Street to cheer riders in a thrilling series of two-up match sprints.
The atmospheric ground-level lighting, professional sound system and general big event razzmatazz made for a fun night, despite the bitter cold.
BMXs, mtbs and road bikes clashed in the dramatic knockout series with two narrow pinch-points to reward tactical manoeuvring and to encourage riders to get their elbows out.
This definitely wasn’t your traditional CTT event, as much fairground as bike race, but together with last summer’s Rollapaluza urban hill-climb it’s proof of cycling’s potential popularity when it’s done right.
Until recently bike racing was Britain’s secret sport but there’s a growing band of enterprising promoters bringing massed start to the masses. Now the pioneering Newport Nocturne has been joined by floodlit races in, London, Manchester, Blackpool and Edinburgh.
What’s next, summer cyclo-cross? Why not grass criteriums in city parks on an August evening? Pack the picnic and see you there.
Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly magazine