Long race distances for Elite & U23 Men

Germiston Wheelers members serving on the organising committee of the Carnival City Macsteel National Classic, have been the driving force behind the decision to increase the race distance for the Elite & U23 Men at the annual event – that’s right, cyclists that take part in many of the fun-rides around the country.

In 2010 we introduced the first long distance event for this category (134 Km). As we grew more confident in the timing between start batches, we were able to increase the distance to 150 Km (2013), then 160 Km (2014) and eventually up to yesterday’s 165 Km distance (2015).

The professional peloton are calling for longer distances as the conventional distances of 100Km are really a fun-ride distance and of no benefit to this category.

2015 Elite Mens winner, JC Nel, calling for longer distance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VWbyX8LuCY#t=28

Team Bonitas owner, Malcolm Lange, calling for longer distances (play from 4:26) https://soundcloud.com/jongericke/cycling-ruling-1

Are other event organisers only interested in their back pockets, or are they interested in developing a sport  that can sustain itself for the foreseeable future? While this event also has a goal of raising funds for charities, we haven’t lost sight of our customer’s wishes. Here are some challenges we’ve faced in the past 6 editions of the race:

  • Finding a route suitable enough to host the event, for 100Km and 150Km;
  • Road closures are difficult to obtain;
  • The start times of the following groups are affected;
  • 80/20 principle – 80% of your effort goes into satisfying the requests of (less than) 20% of the field – however, without 80% of the field, we wouldn’t get the required income to be able to host an event, so both parties (Professionals and Fun Riders) suffer;
  • Title sponsors want coverage, and without the professionals, the interest on TV is probably less appealing.

We’ve thrown out a CHALLENGE to other race organisers since 2013 to consider the longer distance for the professionals. To date, no-one has taken us up on the challenge, and we have a limited number of events catering for a 150 Km distance. The organisers of the Rand Water Race for Victory seem to be on the same page – but they also have an ex-pro working behind the scenes to make it possible.

Look at Team MTN-Qhubeka, they were one of the local teams racing the 100 Km events, and are now invited to the Tour de France. They have 9 riders on their squad (at time of writing) that grew up racing the local races, and still have a development team plying their trade at the local events. Surely if we get more professionals racing in the world’s best races, then it will have a ripple effect on the whole cycling community.

While all our members involved with the organising committee are employed full time, we have 6 years experience of organising multiple route/distances at the same event. We certainly have been nervous each time we increased the race distance, but every time it worked out better than expected. We can offer our services to assist with route planning, timing of batches and so much more. It’s not rocket science, and works on ride data in an age where GPS devices and route workouts are uploaded to various online sports-based websites.

The hot potato is back in your hands – are you going to hold it and do something with it, or toss into someone else’s hands as the heat is too much to handle?