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Organisers: are road races becoming oversubscribed?

Simon NotleySimon Notley Posts: 1,263
edited February 2012 in Amateur race
I am a fairly non-commited 3rd cat racer. I like to do 5-10 races a year, plus evening TTs etc, but I'm not seriously looking to move up (just to try and win at my current level).

I noticed last year that road races sees to be filling up very quickly with it being rather difficult to plan your season as getting refused a ride seems to be a regular occurence now. Was this always the case? Has demand grown? Or supply dwindled? Or both?

Certainly the supply of 'proper' road races seems to be dwindling. There are still plenty of crits at Hillingdon and the like, but events like the Archer GP seem to be gradually dying out due to the growing levels of traffic and admin problems. However, I feel like demand for this kind of racing is still as strong as ever and with the BC online entry and improved calendar I expect there will be even more entries.

I'm not moaning, it's great that the sport is popular. I just have a feeling that it could be a victim of its own success if some way of meeting the demand isn't found.

Am I just imagining this whole thing? What is your experience?


  • i feel your pain, being from Guernsey when i travel to england i would like to just get stuck in to national b level races, but having only got 37 points last season and BC not being willing to upgrade me to 2nd cat i have had to enter some 2,3,4 crits and lower level road races purely to i can get the points, it seems unless you are in a bigish team or have a ton of points getting a ride in national b races if very unlikely
  • Another 3rd Cat here (and I'd also be interested in knowing how it's going for organisers).

    I raced a couple of years ago and then took a year out. Just raced a few this winter series and I've got to say it seems busier. Early races in good weather were sold out very quickly and there were no small fields. My memory may be a little selective but I remember turning up to my previous winter series races on the day and paying cash (and occasionally having fields as small as 20).

    I'm hoping everyone will get bored of cycling again after the Olymics so I can stop sucking :lol: .
  • Short answer - Yes.

    But I think the reason for this is that compared to years ago there are less races promoted now. A number of reasons for this; the amount of effort needed to promote a road race, the bureaucracy of BC plus the money they want from the promoting club, the hassle of getting marshalls, helpers, commissaires, drivers etc, police permission, residents complaining. Also the fact that a lot of people now are setting up small race teams and the majority of these do not promote events like a club would as they don't have the membership, just people who race. Plus with sportives you can make a profit, a race will generally break even as the profits are given away in prizes.
    I raced a lot in the 90's and come back to it every few years and there are very few races to get to without travelling long distances. Our club promotes 2 open races and 2 association races (as well as 2 sportives and open time trials) and the 3/4 cat road race is always well oversubscribed by probably 100% but we just manage to get a full field for the E/1/2/3.
    There are lots of people who like yourself want to ride a few easy 3/4 cat races, get a few results but don't want to move up to 2nd cat and ride harder races, maybe through not having the time to train.
  • They are always oversubscribed at 3/4 level.

    Either get organised and enter early or shut up.

    Or get off your horse and organise an event. There is no more paperwork than years ago. Give it a try - you'll probably enjoy it.

    I've gone from being the guy who just races to a commisaire and organiser of a RR and part of a team putting on a crit series in two years, I cant tell you just HOW WRONG i'd got it.

    We need people to just get up and put events on... The police and public perception issues are easilly overcome.
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,032
    Instead of commentating on this race or lack of, do as TT said and put on an event?
    Try to contact your local BC regional event officer, it really is very straight forward, the BC rep will guide you through the process and you can even do a organisers course and get a decent lunch :)

    The BC region deal with a lot of the stuff (if needed) like councils and Police, all you have to do is sort out a minimal amount of paper work and poss the hardest bit, get together enough Marshalls and drivers.
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 7,137
    Police attitudes vary - we found a decent circuit locally (bit short but quiet roads, white lines all the way round) but the police would only let us go ahead with 2 paid police motorcyclists (as well as NEG). That was their final offer - their opening position was we needed closed roads plus a staggered start ! Over the border in Staffs, circuit no safer, they are happy to let us get on with it.

    I agree though the aggro involved can sometimes be overstated. What I do find annoying as an organiser is when your own club members aren't exactly throwing themselves forward to marshall - and those that do are often riders who don't race and never have. You'd think in a club of 200 members finding 15 to help out would be easy enough - but it's always the same few faces.

    Had a guy last night offer to skip a race he's already entered without realising it clashed if we needed him to marshall - that kind of thing is very much appreciated - others who openly try and drum up club mates to enter an event that clashes makes you wonder why you bother.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.

  • Either get organised and enter early or shut up.

    Or get off your horse and organise an event. There is no more paperwork than years ago. Give it a try - you'll probably enjoy it.

    I was just asking, and I'm not on a horse thanks. I'm a fairly regular helper at my club's events and of course I'm grateful to people like yourself for giving up far more time to do the big jobs that keep the sport going. It wouldn't hurt to be a little more polite about it though.

    Perhaps people like myself are part of the problem, we like to compete, but not at the frequency (or with the level of talent) required to move up and fill out the E/1/2 races. Certainly my experience of helping with races is that the 3/4 fills up and the E12s struggle, I was interested to hear other's experiences.
  • dulldavedulldave Posts: 949
    You'll often get this response mate. You ask an innocent question and someone will tell you to stop complaining and organise a race yourself even though you weren't complaining.

    Apparently the only way to improve the racing scene is by organising a race and you're not allowed to comment until you have. So many people just stop offering their opinion and nothing changes.
    Scottish and British...and a bit French
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,032
    I think you are wrong there, i doubt many folk object to ideas or constructive crit... nah they do :) yes TT perhaps came across a bit strong, but the OP suggested if there was anyway to meet the high demand for certain types of racing ie 3/4....yes there is.... put on more 3/4 races OR go the other way and make the costs of such racing v. high = reduced demand.
  • dulldavedulldave Posts: 949
    mamba if you take the time to go through every post that's started with a question about how races are organised you'll find at least one person telling the OP to organise their own race if they're not happy. I know I'm not wrong because I've fallen in to the trap of making suggestions on this and other forums a few times but have since learned not to bother.
    Scottish and British...and a bit French
  • ju5t1nju5t1n Posts: 2,028
    In my experience early season races always seem to be a lot busier and are often oversubscribed. I guess everyone’s optimistic and full of enthusiasm at this time of year. Come later in the summer you’ll find you can still EOL for a lot of events.
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,032
    mamba80 wrote:
    I think you are wrong there, i doubt many folk object to ideas or constructive crit... nah they do :)

    Dave, no wonder you upset people if you dont actually bother to read what they have said :lol:
    i was agreeing with you.
  • ProssPross Posts: 25,454
    Dave, the problem is that one of the reasons that races get over-subscribed is that there just aren't enough of them. Plenty of people offer constructive criticism but aren't prepared to put their money where their mouth is and have a go at organising. Once you have done it you appreciate the amount of issues there are that have to be considered. For example, someone was recently bemoaning the early starts for Sunday races meaning he couldn't get to them by train but for a race organiser that would be a long way down a list of things they have to consider. I agree the OP wasn't complaining and TT's response was a bit harsh but if more people can be found to organise races then there will be more spaces available to all and each organiser can decide their strategy for deciding who to accept (first come, first served; most points, least points, people from clubs who promote races etc.). It's hard work putting on a race and it comes down to the same few people in each region every year to the point where they get fed up and we lose another race and those that remain become even more over-subscribed!
  • dulldavedulldave Posts: 949
    Sorry mamba I missed that bit, what a dufus I am :0)

    I accept that Pross. There are two types of input I guess. One is the input of new ideas (I've tried this in the past) and the other is thinly veiled moaning. Often but not always, both are met with the same response. Cycle racing in this country can be improved in many areas with a bit of imagination. The people with the organisation skills don't need to be the same people with the imagination.

    On this subject (OK this is a blatant plug on my part) I'm trying to attract racers from outside Scotland to our traditional end of season weekend of bike racing on the Isle of Bute (15-16 Sept). It's a gorgeous island not too far from Glasgow. We have 2 days of bike racing including a lovely hill climb, a 2-up TT, a 10m TT on a beautiful course ( if you notice it you're not trying hard enough) and a handicapped APR road race round the island to finish. All races run under the TLI.

    If anyone is interested I've set up a Facebook event page here that you can join to keep up with what we're planning:

    I'm not organising the event but I'm helping out with areas of promotion etc because I know more about it than the organiser does (who is better at organising races than I am).
    Scottish and British...and a bit French
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