Been thinking a little more about the Old Ports reliabilty event yesterday, and how it fits into the blossoming cycling scene in this country. As a starting point seeing loads of new riders out enjoying the sport in all its guises is a wonderful thing. But for me I think there is something special about the Old Ports event, and similar ones run by CC Bexley, Sydenham Wheelers and the WKRC.
These events, like nearly all the time trials, and many road races are events run by cyclists for cyclists. People put in hours of effort, give up their own rides to help the rest of our community. For the health of the grass roots sport this stuff matters. Clubs like Bigfoot and now the Ports are working to bring young people into the sport in a safe and enjoyable way. The long term health of the sport needs this kind of commitment from the cycling community.
But I sense there is another strand, commercial sportives, training camps and more high end groups that pull in the opposite direction. Running events where the cyclist is the consumer, seperated from the mechanics of making these things happen. Some of these events are brilliant, Marmotte, Maratona, Tour of Wessex. But the relationship with the riders is different.
Cycling clubs are benefiting from the boom in cycling but when I ride a local sportive, many strong riders have not connection with the club scene. While adding some great events to the calendar we cannot rely on large charities, and online retailers to take care of our sport. That is why shaping events like the Reliabilities so they are not the preserve of a hardened few is important. These events can provide a bridge between the cyclist as the consumer and the cyclist joining a community.