Peter Young Memorial Road Race Cancelled
Peter Young Memorial Road Race Cancelled
John Mx/Chris Lovibond
The life and times of a race promoter
The Peter Young Memorial Road Race has been cancelled there are road works (extending about 200 yards) with temporary traffic lights on the Kitsmead lane circuit at the MoD entrance.
Jake Martin won in 2013
By the time these works started it was already too late to apply to the Police Authority for permission to use a different circuit, so we have tried to find a new combination of the roads for which we had already applied. Unfortunately the maximum length of circuit achievable is only about four and a half miles, and even this would involve a potential clash between the bunch and a breakaway group, particularly when any break is changing onto the finishing circuit.
Race promoter Chris Lovibond says: “The Hounslow feels the risks arising from these problems are unacceptable, especially since our race has a reputation for good organisation which has been built up over decades. We deeply regret taking this decision, but we believe it has been forced upon us by events beyond our control.”
Chris Lovibond was to have promoted the Peter Young Memorial Road Race but having failed to do so he reflects:
I have just had to cancel what was to be my first attempt at road race promotion and would have been the forty fourth edition of the Hounslow’s Peter Young Memorial road race. This was because of road works on the course (see message to entrants below).
It looked as though our race was going to join so many other club road events that have disappeared in recent years, not because it was impossible to contemplate running it, not because there were no volunteers for all the minor jobs, and certainly not because there was no interest from potential riders, but simply because no one was prepared to put their head over the parapet and take on the organiser’s role. I felt strongly that if it was possible to save the race, then I should at least try: it took a great deal of energy and courage to achieve racing on the road in Britain, and we who have benefitted from that struggle should not give it up without a fight. With things as they are today it would not be possible to start again.
Since finding someone to promote seems to be a stumbling block, it’s worth offering a potted history of our race from the organising point of view. Our first event was in 1971, when a group of young riders were keen to get the club to put on a road race. This was because they wanted to compete on the road, but as they were relatively inexperienced it was not easy for them to get rides; if their club put on a race they could hope for preferential treatment in their own event, and have more chance of getting into other club’s races on the grounds that we had accepted their riders for our race, a sort of quid pro quo. They made their feelings known at an AGM and it was agreed that a race should be run: there was just one problem – the club didn’t really know how to go about race promotion. Step forward Alf King, a former member of the Twickenham CC who, in his own words ‘had had his arm twisted by Ken Ryall to promote a couple of races’. Alf was already the club press secretary, so in a way he followed the tradition that links race promotion and journalism.
Alf ran the first seven events, and we certainly owe him a big debt for getting the show on the road. Jeff Marshall then did the next six years (’78-’83), Kevin Fairhead did ’84 – ’86, Ron Richardson ’87 and ’88, Jeff again in’89, Ron ’90-’92, Jeff ’93 – ’95, Liam McLoughlin 96 and 97, then Jeff again from 1998 until 2012 and Stuart Stow 2013.
This list may be a tedious read for those who don’t recognise the personalities, but I have given it because it shows that for so large a club, the number of race organisers has been small. It should also be mentioned that both Ron and Jeff made big contributions even in the years they were not named as organiser, and that for most of these years we were promoting a thirds and juniors race as well as the main event. Note that most of our promoters are no longer young, and that I had reservations about taking the job on the grounds that, at sixty eight, I was already too old to make a useful contribution for many years into the future: I finally took it on because it was a choice between me and nobody at all. I believe this to be a widespread problem in our sport – never mind the young not helping out, it’s the middle aged people whose support is needed.
Although my own effort has not been successful, I have gained knowledge and insight from my experience and I hope I can give encouragement to anyone else who may consider taking on the race organiser’s job. In my case I had the very experienced Jeff standing behind me, which made things much easier than they would have been starting from scratch, and this has been a constant reminder that if we were to give up now it would be a lot harder for others to start again in the future.
I would like to say that I have been impressed by the quality of British Cycling’s back up. When I needed to ask a question, there was always some one on the end of the phone who gave me an answer. The on-line entry system worked well: we had ninety seven entrants at the moment of cancellation, and the fact that they were all on line meant that I have not had to address ninety seven envelopes to return cheques. B.C. also took care of liaison with the police authority, and risk assessment of the course had already been dealt with. In short, there is a template which makes the pre race arrangements easier than might be expected.
By way of comparison, last year I promoted a small ‘reliability trial’. I didn’t intend it to be quite as small as it turned out to be, but it did cause me quite a lot of grief mostly because I found it hard to get a satisfactory answer about how to deal with the risk assessment question, and I was never really certain whether or not I was covered as organiser by the insurers (this event was nothing to do with B.C., by the way). I would have felt more confident about the insurance position for this road race.
So, to anyone considering road race promotion, my message is: it’s not as frightening as you think, give it a go. If you’re reading this on-line you should be aware that a significant number of the old boys who promoted events in the past are not computer literate enough to manage the present system: I myself could not have coped without the help and forbearance of my partner. As I said above, I’m really too old to be taking this job on – it’s you young lads of fifty or so we need to hear from.