Race organising is HARD by Aoife Doherty
I thought racing was tiring, stomatology then add organising the London Summer Cross Series into the mix and new levels reached.
I’ve finally gotten to the end of checking results, salve tidying sums and all the other nuggets of excitement that go hand in hand with organising races. Done! Along with my team The 5th Floor women, we have just successfully run our first cross race series.
It began with our very first race as a team on the 3rd January this year. The Badlands. CYCLOCROSS. Three roadies joining forces with two cross enthusiasts. What the F*** were we doing in a muddy field in rain, in January? A love of bikes, that’s what.
As much as I was looking forward to road season, there was a definite lull between the the winter cross season wrapping and the early season road races getting underway. Then we hear that the Summer Cross Series is in danger of not happening. Just no. The two overworked founders, maxed out on life and other commitments, no longer had the capacity to run it. Cue five very enthusiastic, and slightly naive, cross-loving girls.
And ok, we had a bit of an idea how much work it might involve, a very small bit. But I won’t bore you with those details. Cause that’s not what it’s about.
It’s about seeing months of work, stress, emails, phone calls, thinking the whole thing is going to fall through on more than one occasion and then turning up to the first one. And realising that it’s actually going to happen. The cogs are turning. What once was a field is now full of super stoked racers, from kids to the oldies. And a rad cross course, that’s going to hurt.
If you’ve never been to a cross race, get yourself to one immediately. The atmosphere is like nothing else. Pure good vibes. From spectators to racers. Heckling at its best. The racers take it seriously, but not too seriously. There are no points up for grabs, summer cross is about having fun in a field, with your bike and your friends and whatever the course designer decides to throw at you, from off-camber uphill steps to special sections like the spiral of doom and the gautlet. It’s rough and tough and a whole lot of fun.
In the end we ran three races (let’s not speak of the fourth). Addington Park; short, sharp and lung destroying. Morden Park; all levels of fun, hurdles, steps, spirals and fast. And finally Herne Hill. With beer provided by Bianca Road Brewery from our very own in-team brewer Reece, the atmosphere of the series finale was like nothing else. The turnout was immense and the racing was even more so. Between frantically trying to figure out the series standings and handing out podium prizes between races, we even had a bit of time to heckle those tackling the infamous hurdles.
I’ll tell you what, I’ve been enlightened doing this. Seeing the hours, time and effort people put into making something like this happening. All of this voluntary. All the clubs that helped make each round happen. The commissaires, sponsors, supporters, racers, hecklers. The only gain people get from the time they put in, is the insane satisfaction of seeing the race come together.
And it’s worth it, to see the mayhem of hundreds of men, women and children racing around in big laps of confusion, legs and lungs burning and having a damn good time.
Yes it took over our lives for a few months, but we made it happen and that’s an amazing feeling.
CROSSCROSSCROSS! I think we’re all looking forward to a proper season of racing now, with a newfound respect for all those organisers out there.
A special shout out to all that make bike races happen. You know who you are!