Smithfield Market isn't normally the kind of place you'd want to spend a Saturday afternoon. It's a meat market. The biggest meat market in the country. Loads of meat and vast rooms of meat-fuelled tradesmen yelling meatily at each other. However, once a year since 2007, the market has played host to one of the UK's coolest sporting events, the London Nocturne. Cyclists raced on a course that lapped around Smithfield, haring down Long Lane and shooting back up Charterhouse Street. But this year, thanks to the Nocturne's ever-growing popularity, the course has been extended by 400M and rerouted so riders on the final straight pedal to the backdrop of St Paul's Cathedral. Establishing it further still, a new title sponsor has just been announced: Mr Porter.
Saturday 4 June will see cyclists of all abilities and denominations – seriously, some races are reserved for penny-farthings and fold-up bikes alone – pitting their two-wheeled-wits on the narrow cordoned-off course, but it all leads up the final two big races, which for added drama, take place under floodlights at sunset. Some of the biggest names in professional road cycling (last year's men's race was won by two-time Olympic gold medalist Ed Clancy) will be competing in the elite criteriums (50 minutes + 5 laps), so it's safe to expect full-on racing of the highest order. We've been a few times, and the sheer thrill of the final sprint is hard to put into words. The noise of the crowd, the whirr of the wheels, the possibility of a limb-entangling pile-up at any moment… Amazing.
Beyond the course there are street food stalls, amply stocked bars and pop up stores, most notably the Mr Porter Hub, which is adding a little understated style to the event, naturally. An edit of the site's cycling apparel offering will on show - which is worth perusing between races – and there'll be yet more food and drink. As we gear up to another summer of amazing sport, we can't think of a better way to get things started, or spend a sunny Saturday afternoon for that matter.
The Mr Porter London Nocturne,4 June, 2016. Entry to the event is free, but hospitality and grandstand tickets are available.
For more information visit londonnocturne.com