THE last time I tried to go and see a Formula 1 race - 20 years ago - a ticket on the day was £50. I got back in the car and drove back home.
But you can see the two-wheeled equivalent of Formula 1 for absolutely nothing this weekend in Sutton Park - and rather than being a boring procession of cars there promises to be thrills and spills galore - whatever the weather.
The British National Cyclo Cross Championships run over the Saturday and Sunday, January 9-10 and a record field of over 560 riders are down to compete from juniors to elites and under tens to veterans.
Included in the field there are expected to be over 20 riders from Solihull CC.
And with races lasting no more than an hour the action - which starts at 9.50am on Saturday morning - comes thick and fast right up to the senior men’s championship at 2.15pm on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s the Formula 1 of bike racing,” said British Cycling’s Brian Furniss, who’s co-ordinating the event. “The speed is tremendous and rather than it being a case of the competitor against the course it’s rider against rider with plenty of overtaking.”
There will be pitstops too - not to fill up on petrol but to straighten bent kit, change flat tyres and clean out the mud, slush or ice - or whatever the elements throw up.
The cream of British cyclo cross will be there, including defending champion Jody Crawforth, his main challenger Paul Oldham and Roger Hammond who has won the trophy on many occasions.
“There has been a big surge in participation over the last two years,” said Furniss, “and in the West Midlands alone cycling has increased by 26 per cent, thanks in part to the Beijing factor where British cyclists did so well.”
For spectators entry is free and there will hot food and drink available to keep the cold at bay.