Bloody Cyclists

After I announced The Gravelton last week things went a bit mad for a bit so I’ve just let it run for a few days without even checking how many have signed up. I’ve just looked and 172 riders have expressed an interest now which is fantastic and thank you to all who want to ride.

a lot of traffic for me

It’s given me time to think about a couple things

Firstly, why so much interest? Are people literally craving this type of event in the Midlands? Is it because it’s free? Because it’s quite low-key with no fancy starts, medals, feedstations etc? Is it because it’s a genuine challenge for riders away from the traffic?

I would be really interested to know what has driven the interest so if you want to tell me why you signed up post in the comments on Facebook

Secondly, I’ve had time to digest the numbers and consider how we manage that many riders at the start. It is a rock up and ride type event. I’m a route arranger not an organiser but I still feel I have some responsibility for making sure it’s handled correctly.

Now if you don’t know me, I do have some form organising cycling events. I organised the first 7 editions of The Mad March Hare Sportive and took it from 150 riders (just like The Gravelton!) first time out and grew that to 1200 quite quickly. So The Gravelton should be ok but it does pose a bit of a problem at the start. I think the rest of the day will work itself out.

So, here are a few ideas I’m considering in no particular order

Move the start
I could move the start to somewhere with more space but I chose The Crown Inn at Alvechurch because it’s a pub I like, it’s local, it’s straight onto the canal and I think we can help them with a boost in trade when we sup some beer and food afterwards. What we can’t have though are people driving there and parking. For me that’s a red line I would really get upset about to the point I’ve told Sally if anybody did do that I’d wait till they left then vandalise their car lol. I’m joking but I’m trying to emphasise the point how serious I would take it.

Staggered Start Times
We could open a window and let riders go when they wanted to try and spread them out. Definitely an option on the table but I do like the idea of a mass start. Allocating start times is a headache I’m not really interested in.

Make it a weekend
Taking the staggered start times, we could just say ride the course in your own time on the Saturday or the Sunday. Fine, but I think we’d lose a bit of the event and the camaraderie on the day. Not convinced

Split the route
Give riders the option to ride from different start points. I’ve already seen some interest in this particularly if riders want to get involved but live too far away to ride to the official start point. This is a great compromise.

Fuck it and just ride
There isn’t much space to get on the canal via the bridge. It’s quite tight so riders will need to be patient and careful turning right under the bridge. We don’t want anyone in the drink. So my thinking is we maybe start a bit earlier than planned. Gather in the car park for a few minutes where I’ll say hello and introduce myself and then we can head off and disperse from the area carefully and quietly. I don’t think it will take long for 100+ riders to get going as long we are sensible and patient. It’s not a race. Then we can reconvene in the afternoon after the ride. If riders want to start later, fine by me. There are no real rules apart from parking there.

    Some ideas there. What do you think?


    2 thoughts on “Bloody Cyclists

    1. You could take a leaf out of the Cross Cartel’s book – I’ve done their Spring Challenge a couple of times. ( or the Racing Collective ( – I’ve done their CotsDuro a couple of times. They don’t have an entry fee or support that you would expect from a sportive, they set a start time, but they may suggest one though, and really just organise the route and collect the results using Strava. You meet up with other people doing the same ride as you go round. These have all been great events. Given the length of this ride then the start time will be limited otherwise people will struggle to finish. Hopefully one or other of these websites will give you something to ponder.

      Liked by 1 person

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