Scottish cycling Podcast 4: How to organise a big cycling event

In this show I talk to Norrie Petrie, chairman of Stirling Bike Club about organising a big event. The Crit under the Castle race has been held in Stirling in 2014 and 2015 and has incorporated the Scottish Cycling criterium championships. This event has enjoyed a full programme of racing with closed roads in a town centre and I wanted to ask Norrie about how this was achieved to help other clubs with ideas and practical advice about how to improve their own events.

Crit2 (56)

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We were recording in Corrieri’s Cafe in the Causewayhead area of Stirling.

Seen today: 1985 Ferrari 208 turbo

Early 80s
Central Scotland Wheelers – see this video of one of their races in the 80s
VC Olympia
Norrie’s son Kyle ‘christmas message’ to Stirling Bike Club

Getting backing for a big cycling event
Get favourable people on board early, makes it harder for those less in favour to say no
– council leaders, the Provost
– toursim
– income generation

Be armed with answers to the big questions:
– Commissioning an economic impact assesment
– Look at other big cycling events that are in similar areas demographically and geographically
– How many beds might be taken up before, during and after
– What the spend per head might be during the event

Pru Tour in Stirling 1998
– disharmony still felt amongst traders from this event – almost 20 years ago!
– it also closed down the town centre, but shopkeepers were in the dark
– you need to keep traders on side
– make sure you consult
– make sure access is maintained to the centre and the car parks

1998 Scottish Prutour.The extra elements to make a great event
– make a splash, it will make it easier to bring it back in future years
– events village, persuading people to attend with stands requires
– date during school holidays not the best
– getting a ‘name’ guest of honour
– a well-done preview video can really help
– pre-event drink and buffet with council backers, sponsors, riders to show course video
Cyclevox produced video on the day – big push on sponsorship required to fund this
– videos specific to principal sponsors provide proper return
– see also: post on Hugh Johnstone, grass track racer based on one of Cyclevox’s ‘colour’ pieces

Getting sponsorship
– involves a lot of phone calls
– start out armed with your collateral, like economic impact assessment

Questions they ask:
– what will the prize presentation podium / ceremony be like?
– what the stage will look like, what the backdrop will look like and where their banners will be?
– where’s the best place for their banners for photography and video?

VIP Guest
– Graeme Obree was on board from early on helps with sponsors
– big name will attract sponsors even so they can meet the person, get a photo with them, etc
– also means that the press will take PR about the event early on

Crit Under the Castle 2014
Principal Sponsor CATCo Investment Management presenting prizes, with company banner on the podium and VIP Graeme Obree

Challenges on the day
– closing roads needs close work with emergency services – fire, police, ambulance need access
– contingency plan if you run behind schedule
– contingency plan if weather is bad
– 100 marshalls needed! Council were sceptical but as a big club we are lucky
– consider the use of other community, clubs or even Volunteer Scotland
– live media on the day always helps
@Castle_Crit twitter account
– capture the buzz during and after your event to use as a selling point
twitonomy social tool
Equal prize money

The Stirling castle finish (below)
– agreement to get this piece of road was the last piece of the jigsaw
– using Historic Scotland property – fill out 2 days of forms!
– world-class hill finish, suitable for a crit or not?

Davie Lines leads Steven Lawley (obscured) up the final climb

Working with councils
– don’t ask for too much too early (e.g. money!)
– build the relationship
– providing events, consider that doing the organisation for them is worth a lot

Quick fire questions
– best rider ridden with: Graeme Obree
– best rider raced with: Sandy Wallace
– best race to watch: Paris Roubaix
– best race to ride: Stirling crits on MoD land 1980s
– cycling media: catch up on twitter
– cycling books: The Flying Scotsman, Tyler Hamilton

Further links
Norrie on twitter
The Sports Emporium online shop – new site pending!
The Sports Emporium on ebay

Crit under the Castle 2014 photo group on flickr