Word:Ian Cleverly Photos: Wig Worland
Ever considered running a cycling race? Got what it takes? Read this, think carefully, and then do it. Just be ready to put heart and soul into it…
Start by moaning to anyone prepared to listen about how poorly presented bike racing is in your chosen domain – in this case cyclo-cross in the UK – without any actual intention of getting involved per se, hoping to throw some ideas in the mix, then neatly step back for others to take on the baton. Fellow lovers of the sport will back everything you say, before disappearing in the shadows. For the moment, you and your brilliant ideas are all alone.
The Hard Sell
No sponsor, no cash, equals no flash. Times are hard and persuading a company to part with a big bundle of notes for what is essentially uncharted waters is never going to be easy. I got lucky and found someone who believed in the idea soon enough. You may have to work harder for it.
Putting together three big races when previous organisational experience is limited to a nine-year-old’s birthday party, ending in your son and his best mate exchanging blows, does not preclude you from the task ahead. Find an existing event that needs bells and whistles, offer your services to the organiser (they’ll be glad of the interest) and, with a lot of graft and a splash of cash, you have a race that people actually want to attend.
Keep on Delegating
Around this point, you will realise you are hopelessly out of your depth and require assistance. Call on favours, use bribes, promise the earth, but get help before it swamps you. If not for Laura, Jack and Konrad from Rapha, I would have abandoned ship long ago.
Work / Life Balance
Hah! Forget it. Your day job will suffer, sinks will remain unblocked, firewood unchopped and the family neglected, and riding your bike will become a distant memory. It will soon pass…
Sport governing bodies are one of life’s necessities, but it is amazing how much can be done without their involvement. Keep asking questions and you will probably be told no. Keep your head down and crack on and it’s fait accompli.
The Social Network
Like it or not, Facebook and Twitter are your friends. Pump out the information. The web is an insatiable beastie, just keep pouring snippets down its gullet. Cycling websites likewise.
Sit Back and Relax…
Everything is in place for the big day, so rest easy and watch the action – except there are stalls to be set up, beer to be shifted, banners to be erected, press reports to be written, results to be pored over, toilets to be cleaned: all this and more. Anyone actually trying to hold a conversation with you will notice a distracted, faraway look in the eyes that will make them wish they hadn’t bothered. Sincere apologies to all those well and truly blanked by yours truly.
And that’s about it. If you can cope with that lot and still come out the other side with a smile on your face, then get stuck in and do something for the sport instead of moaning about it. If I can do it, anyone can.
The smiles and thanks from all and sundry make the whole shebang worthwhile, trust me.
Rapha Super Cross: Broughton Hall, Yorkshire Oct. 20th Misterton Hall, East Midlands Oct. 27th Alexandra Palace, London Oct 28th