Everybody’s bought their licences and they’re raring to go at the start of the season. This article relates to anybody who wants to have a go at racing on the open roads…
First thing that I want you to take a look at is the first 30 seconds or so of the following clip from Dirty Dancing (yes, I am serious):
You may all think that I have totally lost the plot, but Patrick Swayze makes two important comments:
- “Spaghetti arms” – the need to keep your [body’s] frame locked and your head up;
- “Dance space” – Jennifer Grey (as the amateur dancer) keeps encroaching on his space, to which he states “I don’t go into yours, you don’t go into mine”.
Yes, I get that the late Lord Patrick of Swayze is going on about doing a rumba; or whatever dance he is teaching her – I have only ever danced a rumba to “Hungry Eyes” (I’m not joking, either), so I don’t want anyone to correct me on the dance please, but it’s an important lesson to anybody who is contemplating racing on the open road in a road race.
Keeping your arms relaxed but in control of your handlebars is very important, as is keeping your head up. Time and time again you see riders in a bunch who aren’t in control of their bike properly. Some think it’s cool to ride either none-handed or with their wrists balancing on their handlebars in the middle of a bunch. Sorry, my friends, this is not “cool”. I don’t care if you see Grand Tour riders doing it on Eurosport – that is not appropriate behaviour in a local bike race in the UK, when there is oncoming traffic on the opposite side of the road.
More often than not, riders think that it is somehow appropriate to move themselves into a gap that is actually non-existent. If you were driving a car along a dual carriageway and there was a vehicle in each lane, you wouldn’t drive up the middle of the cars, so why ride into a “gap” that doesn’t exist? And saying “inside” to the rider who is on the left hand side in the gutter isn’t the same as saying “barleys” – where you can do what you want because it doesn’t matter as you won’t get any bad luck because you’ve crossed your fingers. Errr. No. Sorry, that doesn’t work.
Actions have consequences
Okay, you might think that I am having a rant because somebody brought me off on Sunday and that I should just shut up because “crashing is part of racing”. Fair enough, I understand the risks, having raced (on and off) since 1993, but I am not convinced some people understand the consequences of racing on the open road. The closed circuits that British Cycling have built are great tools for learning skills and act as an entry into racing, but people seem to apply the same racing rules to the open road as they do to closed road circuits. There’s a major difference that seems to pass people by – oncoming traffic. This means that if you push your way into a gap that doesn’t exist, the rider who has to make way for you then has to move elsewhere, which often means that they have to ride on the wrong side of the road, or hit the cats eyes that mark the middle of the road, which can then lead to issues in itself.
It’s not just the women…
Historically, women’s racing on a domestic level has been littered with crashes (partly due to the large difference of abilities that you can find when catering for “women” as a whole), but the numbers of crashes in the local men’s races (in the North West at least) is increasing at an alarming rate. More often than not, crashes occur because people stop concentrating (if only for a nano-second), which leads to a touch of wheels, people braking and then a domino effect occurring behind the culprit. Or the person on the front decides that they don’t want to be on the front anymore and swings across the front of the bunch, without looking before making the manoeuvre (I saw that happen with my own eyes on Sunday), or just slams on for no apparent reason.
If you have ever watched the professionals racing on the TV, for the most part you will see riders giving each other space – they respect each other as riders and as fellow professionals – they will give each other space on descents, especially – and any crashes (except the bizarre like Jonny Hoogerland’s in the Tour de France) tend to happen either in the last few kilometres when teams are jostling for position in the lead up to a sprint finish, or due to street furniture (roundabouts, bollards, etc) when the roads become really narrow. The latter shouldn’t happen in a domestic race in the UK because of risk assessments being carried out.
Admittedly, there can be potholes and puddles and grids (we live in the UK after all), so let people know if there’s an issue that you can see, including oncoming traffic – communication is the key in these instances.
The Moral to the Story
If you only take a few things away from this article, I hope that they are:
- Give your fellow competitors room;
- Treat everybody with respect;
- Remember that every action (however minor it may seem to you) has a consequence;
- Never stop concentrating when riding in a bunch.
The above are my observations from racing with men and women. Crashing is an expensive option both economically (I consider myself lucky from the crash I had on Sunday, but practically every item of clothing that I had on was wrecked, including a brand new helmet and a pair of Oakleys, which if I wanted to replace it all would cost in the region of £750 – and that’s not including the cost of fixing my bike) and physically (I headbutted the floor at 22 mph and have injuries to most parts of my body, although they are mostly cuts and bruises – the guys who came off in the men’s race weren’t as lucky and have broken bones and written-off bikes) and therefore, in my humble opinion, should be avoided at all costs – which means looking out for each other. Incidentally, for the majority of us, we have to get up and go to work the following day (you know, so that you can pay for the bike riding) or go home to look after dependents (whether that’s kids or other halves!) – you can’t do either if you’re smashed to bits.
Let’s keep the #partyontheroad safe, so that everybody can enjoy the party after the race and remember – nobody puts Baby in a corner…
Until next time…
Last year, the CDNW women’s league, open only to 2nd, 3rd and 4th category riders, was thought by everybody involved to be a resounding success – an average of 40 women at each race, with 70 women registered for the league. I was approached by Victoria Hood as she loved the concept and wanted to bring something similar to the women of Yorkshire.
After numerous conversations with BC Yorkshire, it was agreed that we would try and bring the same level of racing to Yorkshire.
Organising a women’s road race has historically been a massive risk to organisers, especially when it is the sole event, so persuading some organisers to assist us in our quest was key. Pete Sutton, the Regional Events Officer for Yorkshire, has been a star, and he even spent the afternoon with Victoria and I going through all of the potential dates to ensure that there were no clashes with existing similar events in the North West.
This year, I have been trying to build a community atmosphere for women who want to have a go at racing by using the #partyontheroad hashtag. It is hopefully working – 68 women took to the start line on Sunday, at an industrial estate in Skelmersdale, with rain threatening. 64 of those women finished. The race next Sunday already has 51 entrants, with more due to enter on the day.
As the time is NOW to keep building on the momentum in women’s cycling, a lot of work has been going on behind the scenes to bring you the Yorkshire Women’s Road Race Series – these are all linked via the Series on British Cycling’s website here:https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events?series_id=380 The Series is being supported by Jadan Press, from Hull, so there will be an overall series winner – with cash!!!
It isn’t a league, like the CDNW women’s league, which means that we will need volunteers to assist at each race as there isn’t a league where you register and have to marshal (it was £92 to register the league, whereas a series is free). Any offers of assistance will be greatly appreciated, even if you bring a mate with you to watch the race! It is the #partyontheroad after all!
So without further ado, here are the details for the first three events to be included in the Yorkshire Women’s Road Race Series:
1. Sheffrec CC Spring Road Race – 13 April 2014
This race is organised by Marc Etches. Marc organises the Sheffield Grand Prix, which has been a fixture in the National Women’s Series for many years. Marc’s club, Sheffrec CC, organise a Spring Road Race, and he offered to run a women’s race in the morning, before the men’s event in the afternoon.
You can enter the race here: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/106353/Sheffrec-Spring-Road-Race#entry
This is a great starting event, being only 35 miles in length. For anyone from down South who has entered the Alexandra Tour of the Reservoir, why not enter the Sheffrec race too?
The circuit is on Strava – link here: http://app.strava.com/segments/1234074 and this video also gives you a great idea of what to expect:
Entry closes on 27 March 2014 – remember you don’t need to register for the series, you will be automatically entered into it if you ride.
2. Team Swift RR – 11 May 2014
The next event in the series is organised by Cliff Beldon, of Team Swift. You can enter the race here: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/104997/Teamswift-Road-Races#entry
The circuit is on Strava – link here: http://www.strava.com/segments/1445730 – I absolutely love this circuit, although I have only ridden around it the opposite way around!
3. Albarosa CC Road Race – 15 June 2014
Currently being finalised – I will update you when it goes live, but for now hold the date!
4. PH-Mas Road Race – 3 August 2014
This race is also in the process of being finalised. Once it goes live I will add the date, so just keep it in your diaries for the time being!
The course is being fun on the Seacroft Wheelers RR circuit at Bishopwood, near Selby, and the circuit is here:
5. Selby CC Road Race
Stuart Davies is the organiser for the final round of the Yorkshire Women’s Road Race Series, and further information can be found here: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/107690/Selby-CC-Road-Race#entry
This event is going to be held on a new circuit, which is first being used on the 15 May 2014, so I’m afraid I don’t have any segment details for you just yet!
Food for thought…
There aren’t many events where you can win hard cash for no entry fee. That and the fact that the #partyontheroad is coming to Yorkshire, why wouldn’t you want to get involved?
Hopefully I will see some of you there…
My thanks to Martin Holden Photography for use of the photos, as well as to all of the organisers of both the CDNW Women’s League and the Yorkshire Women’s Road Race Series. Without organisers, we have no races…
The Tickhill Grand Prix on 24th August has joined up with new Electrical giant YESSS ELECTRICAL who will be their title sponsor for at least the next 3 years.
The Tickhill Grand Prix is a closed road cycle race through the streets of Tickhill, near Doncaster, (DN11 9PT) and is hot on the heels of the Tour de France. Boasting 8 races, free admission, close to the action spectating, this is a great day for all the family.
YESSS Electrical have stepped in to support the event and see this as a major national promotion as the Race will be attracting professional Riders and Teams from all over the country as well as supporting grassroots Youth Racing.
Shaun Myers, Head of Design & Marketing at YESSS said, “the Tickhill Grand Prix is an amazing event. We were impressed by the effort and dedication that the organising team at Tickhill Velo Club put into their first event in 2013 and realized the huge potential of this great day”
“The Tickhill Grand Prix has a similar story to ours, success and growth that has come purely from the efforts and service put in by excellent staff and we had no hesitation in supporting them.”
Shaun Myers – Yesss Electrical – Head of Design & Marketing
Andy Birdsall – Tickhill Velo Club – Chairman
Andy Singleton – Yesss Group Europe – General Manager
“Rapid” Rich Stoodley – Tickhill Grand Prix – Organiser
Richard Stoodley from Tickhill Grand Prix said “It is amazing to have attracted such a dynamic, high profile company such as YESSS Electrical. It may look like a little village but the Tickhill Grand Prix is set to be one of the biggest town centre ‘crit’ style races in the UK, and it is the support of YESSS that has allowed us to fulfill our ambitions.”
He continued, “We are thrilled to be associated with YESSS and look forward to putting on a great event”
The Tickhill Grand Prix hosts 8 races from 13.00 till 19.45 and these include Professional Elite – both Men & Women – Penny Farthing Race and a host of Amateur & Youth Races.
With Big screens, free admission, free programme, after event presentation and plenty to do and see, the Tickhill Grand Prix is a must for your diary.
Richard went on to say “British Cycling, Doncaster Council and South Yorkshire Police have been very supportive in helping us stage this important event and we are working closely with them to put on a safe event for both Riders and spectators.”
But its not just about Racing and promotion, the Tickhill Grand Prix has also agreed a 3 year official partnership with Yorkshire Air Ambulance and will see collections and a sponsorship profit share donated to this much needed Charity.
Mary Perry from Yorkshire Air Ambulance commented “We were delighted when the Tickhill Grand Prix approached us to become a partner. Cycling is a huge, fast growing sport and with all eyes being on the Tour de France this year, fantastic events like Tickhill Grand Prix will gain Yorkshire Air Ambulance much needed exposure and funds”.
Although YESSS are the title sponsor, sponsorship and fundraising opportunities are still available and the organisers can be contacted on [email protected] or visit www.tickhillgp.com
The YESSS Tickhill Grand Prix is set to be the success story of 2014, mainly because of the efforts and vision from YESSS Electrical.