Watching cycling in Greece for many years, I noticed the following phenomenon: While active cyclists are growing in number every year – whether we are talking about road cycling, MTB or simply commuting – cycling events are diminish in participation.
What is it to blame for this paradox? Is it the average level of most races that discourages most people? Is it the way most cycling clubs operate, which instead of attracting young people to the sport, discourage them? Is it the lack of cycling education and the proper promotion of the sport, which also discourages many from participating in a bicycle race? Surely, many of the above are true.
On the other hand, brevets are constantly increasing in numbers in the last years, just like the people who participate in them. Brevets are of course not a competitive cycling event – although unfortunately many see them this way. Brevets are organized cycling tourism, a way to ride with friends in beautiful places. And the recent increase in such events, means something…
Perhaps most people want to ride – fast or slow – but also have fun at the same time. Perhaps what we need in cycling is more fun and adventure, than hard numbers and positions – or not – on the podiums.
Of course, road racing is an essential part of cycling, through which cycling clubs are been promoted and new athletes are been presented to the public. There are many out there, who love the intensity of a race and let’s not forget the masters categories, which without them fewer races would exist. Cycling races are mandatory, if we want cycling to exist as a sport!
What would we possibly want from a cycling event? Let’s try to make a general list of 5 essential tips:
- A warm welcome. In any cycling event we participate, we are always the guests and should be treated accordingly.
- A beautiful but demanding route. Because the difficulty of the route gives another “flavor” to the finish.
- A adequate organization. Of course, this needs a lot of analysis, but let’s say an organization that offers the basics without serious shortcomings.
- Benefits, benefits, benefits. Benefits are a way to reward the amateur athlete, who has made the trouble to honor the event with his/her presence. It could be a commemorative gift, or a lunch after the event. The organization should offer to the participants, more than it receives from them.
- Beware of details. Always, the attention to details shows the commitment – or its absence – from organization to the event. This is what the participants will for sure remember afterwards.
I do not think we need to invest a lot in a cycling event, if we really love cycling. Just to offer that things, which we would like to receive, participating in a race.
And remember, for an organizer, the smiles after the finish is his biggest reward …
Have a nice ride!