Local Leagues (Entry League)

I wrote a blog titles ‘Out of Our League’ back in January, it deserves a rewrite & a bit more thought put into it, especially with the likelihood that things will change regarding how the Regions are set out in the future. Lets take a fresh look & see what we could end up with, it will take some upheavals & can’t be fully implemented in a year, but a plan is required in order to help road racing prosper again. I’ll do another blog for the advanced & elite leagues too, advanced could operate in year one & include 2/3 cat racing, with the elite league forming in year 2. The Elite league would be the only one that focussed on individual rankings, as it can’t be affected by riders moving up a category & out of the league.

So in 2015 we’d have  the following:

  • Regional Entry League : Club League Rankings Only. (Open to 4th category riders)
  • Regional Advanced League: Club League Rankings Only. (Open to 2nd & 3rd category riders)
  • National Elite League : Individual & Club/Team Rankings. (Open to Elite, 1st & 2nd category riders)

The initial two leagues should provide enough points to feed the Elite league with 2nd category riders for year two.

We can start out modestly, with maybe 4 to 6 races in each region, perhaps many of these races already exist, so just need combined into a league format by agreement with other clubs. The idea is that club based rankings will encourage clubs to ‘push’ new riders into taking part in a race, to stick a number on their back so that their club can gain league ranking points as their established racers move up categories, leaving a a void & points to be grabbed.

Pre-Requisites (Regional Entry League)

As far as I see it, we need to make this easy for organisers & riders, it’s vital to make the league races as simple as possible to run & make the races as simple as possible to enter.

  • Start the events from mid-March at the earliest, we don’t want to put new riders off by having their events cancelled due to ice & snow, let’s make this less likely. (It is Scotland, so this will reduce risk, road racing in February in Scotland, isn’t good for the sport’s development)
  • Keep bunches limited to 60 riders for safety reasons, we’re dealing with new riders here, not promoting events for licence dodgers & ‘ringers’.
  • League points to first 15 riders, with emphasis on a ‘win’ & top placings. Points allocated as follows, starting from first place. 25, 20, 18, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5. With 1 point allocated to each rider who finished the event, to promote participation for beginners, who’s initial aim is simply to finish, they can also aid their club’s points tally by scoring a point.
  • Under no circumstances will an individual rider ranking be listed, only club listings will be published. This will remove the ‘problem’ of riders upgrading but ‘hogging’ the points system, resulting in the strongest riders removing all these points from being allocated. It blighted the lower league of the Super6 series.
  • Clubs will have to run an event to gain league entry, if clubs are very small (not big & lazy), they can team together to run an event to gain entry, but they won’t get double the rider allocation, they’ll have to share that.

You need a league administrator, somebody who can work excel, & stick the results on something like this, a blog, it’s really easy & quick to do, if you can type, you can run a simple blog, no technical knowledge required.

League Structure (Regional Entry League)

This should involve between 6 & 12 different clubs, who can work together to promote a series of events for their riders. Where there’s geographical problems, there should be around 6 clubs who could travel to an event.

  • Six to twelve clubs form each league, minimum 30 riders in an event in order to help events at least break even. (see below)
  • Member clubs offered at least 5 places in each event. Spaces left after allocation are open to other league club members first, on a fair basis, any left after that are open to non-league riders.
  • Any riders who have gained enough points before the event to move into a category not included in the league event, will not start the event. This ensures all licence points awarded in the event will be allocated to eligible riders.

Event Costs

You can access a vast number of forms on the Scottish Cycling website, on the page linked HERE. You’ll see that a Regional C+ Event (an event open to 4th category riders with points for the first 10 riders) will cost £10 Registration fee, plus £12 Regional registration fee to get it on the calendar. The levies payable to SC are £3.95 per rider (there’s also £2.60 per rider listed for a Regional C League, but those events don’t carry BC points, so ‘pointless’ for our needs, unless SC know a ‘get around’). So for a field of 60 riders, we’re already at £22 + (60 X £3.95), that’s £259 so far. Add on HQ & changing room hire at between £50 to £100 (lets say £75), photo-finish at £100 per event, 4 NEG riders at approx £75 each, depending on where they’re coming from & you’re up to a bill so far of £734, with no prize money yet. That’s how much it costs to run an event these days with what riders have to expect, photo-finish for their placing (almost obligatory for league points) & NEG to keep things safe. So each rider’s paying out £12.90 of their entry fee just for the running of the event. I’ll list it below, along with the scary scenario of only 30 riders, then you’ll see why organisers panic if they’re getting a low number of entries near to closing date.

Example Costings for a 60 rider road race.

  • Event Registration £10
  • Regional Registration £12
  • Levies £237
  • HQ/Changing £75
  • Photo-finish £100
  • NEG X 4 £300
  • First Aid £40

TOTAL £774

Running costs per rider £12.90 (60 rider field) [This isn’t entry fee, this is how much of your entry fee can’t be considered for anything else by the organiser, he/she has plenty of good things they can spend this on apart from prize money]

So if you want any prize money, a £15 entry fee isn’t really a possibility these days, you’re going to have to pay a bit more if you want all that.

Example Costings for a 30 rider road race.

  • Event Registration £10
  • Regional Registration £12
  • Levies £118.50
  • HQ/Changing £75
  • Photo-finish £100
  • NEG X 4 £300
  • First Aid £40

TOTAL £655.50

Running costs per rider £21.85 (30 rider field)

As you can see, a 30 rider race with all this isn’t going to work, riders won’t want to pay upwards of £25 to race in a low-level event will they? Once you add in catering, petrol, signage, flags, numbers, prizes, etc, you’re looking at an expensive event. Realistically, photo-finish & NED are only likely to be at one event a weekend, if the regions are all running league events, you’ll not have access to these anyway, so under the next heading I’ll propose how we get round this.

Running Simple Events

As you can see above, we need a simple, cheap & easy to run event for the league races. I’d propose the following as one option, there’s probably plenty of others you can think of too to remove expense.

  • NEG? Reasonably short circuits (5km to 15km?), with 3 or 4 easy to marshal corners, removing the need for moto NEG riders policing the course. Get your O.S. maps out & start planning, you’ll surely come up with something locally, get creative.
  • Photo-finish? A home-made photo finish system also requires a bit of ingenuity, lots of clubs all over the UK are doing it already, I did it in the late 90’s with some basic equipment & placed 40 riders in a bunch sprint (after a while & some moaning, obviously). You’ll need the following, some still cameras that take multiple quick shots (most do this), 2 sets of step ladders, a couple of video cameras you can review on 2 laptops. The tallest stepladder has a guy/girl with a video camera, this faces the finish line looking at the riders bums as they cross the line, this way you get their numbers. Another video camera takes the riders as they cross the line from the front/side. Then you have various still cameras snapping away. Once the event finishes, run into a car & plug-in a video camera to each laptop, you can then review the footage, get the numbers first & work out placings from video & still. Only two people in the car & a bouncer outside to stop every rider asking where they finished.
  • Catering? Simple, tell riders to bring their own, removes a burden & frees up people to do other jobs for you, this will upset the old timers, but these races are not aimed at them, new riders don’t expect catering. If they’ve competed in sportives, running events, triathlons, they’ll expect to buy or bring their own.

Ok, so we’ve removed some expense & manpower, what do the costings look like now?

Example Costings for a 60 rider road race.

  • Event Registration £10
  • Regional Registration £12
  • Levies £237
  • HQ/Changing £75
  • Photo-finish n/a
  • NEG X 4 n/a
  • First Aid £40

TOTAL £374

Running costs per rider £6.23 (60 rider field)

Example Costings for a 30 rider road race.

  • Event Registration £10
  • Regional Registration £12
  • Levies £118.50
  • HQ/Changing £75
  • Photo-finish n/a
  • NEG X 4 n/a
  • First Aid £

TOTAL £215.50

Running costs per rider £8.52 (30 rider field)

As you can see, we’ve made a 30 rider field a viable option with some ingenuity & a £15 entry fee, which may even allow for some prizes & other expenses paid out, maybe some put aside for club race equipment (car signs, numbers, signs, flags etc). I’d keep using St Andrews Ambulance or similar for your first aid, as its good value & finding somebody willing to do that job is often tricky, especially as nobody will really want to do it, a lot less bother to get somebody else in to do it for you.

How Many People to run one of these?

We’re assuming your a club with at least 4 riders wanting to take part in the league, so we’re guessing there’s at least 15 to 20 of you in the club, that’s plenty to run an event, some much smaller clubs run great events with only a handful of members, they use & borrow resources very well, you can too.

Let’s consider you’ve found a decent circuit as above, with 4 corners that need marshalled. The minimum you’ll need at each corner is 2 marshalls, so we’ll stick with that, 8 marshalls in total. Sign on closes normally around 15 minutes before the start, so your two sign-on table people are also marshalls on the nearest corner to the HQ, still at 9 people so far, including you. You’ll need a race convoy, normally a commissaire won’t want the organiser driving in the convoy, so you’ll need two lead cars, two cars to drive commissaires & a first aid car, as it’s a simple event, I’d miss out a race service & broom wagon all together, unless a club offers to do neutral service. The league is based on club rankings, so you should have plenty of points scorers left if somebody punctures.

The people you need to take photo’s & video footage at the finish is probably the easiest thing to get volunteers for, they’ll only get ‘landed’ with being at the finish & seeing the action, so it’s a nice job. You should also be there will a phone that records your voice and you can say what you see, who’s crossing the line first, 2nd, 3rd etc.

  • Organiser: 1
  • Marshalls : 8
  • Lead car drivers & car : 2
  • Commissaire drivers & car : 2
  • First aid driver : 1
  • Camera/photo finish : 4

TOTAL : 18 people.

Can you get this small number of people together? If you can, you can run an event.

In Conclusion

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a plan to revive road racing in Scotland, it would involve some co-operation & talking, but surely even small to medium clubs can organise one event & gain entry to their regional league. There are great leagues starting up now, the South West Cycling Project & the WOSCA league have proved very popular & successful, they need minor alterations to form the basis for the first two regional leagues that can feed into a future national league, providing riders with higher category licences into the system & improve the standard, participation & competition in Scottish road racing. Can we do it? If so, please steal these ideas, or any elements of it you think might work for you.

My other ideas for a road race league, will promote club membership.

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