Support your local bike race

On Sunday I left the house planning to go racing for the first time this year. In the end I didn’t race but instead did something equally useful: marshalled.

British cycling at the elite level on the track may be flourishing, but look on any cycling forum and you’ll see that there’s huge concern about the sport’s future at the amateur level, where most people are racing in this country. Nor are things looking healthy at the domestic professional level: at least three Premier Calendar events have been cancelled or curtailed due to cost, in particular that associated with policing.

While volonteer marshalls aren’t going to solve six-figure bills from the police, volonteers are vital for keeping events running, from making the tea and doing the sign-on to standing to shepherding the bunch in beginners’ races. There’s even a useful job to be done standing by a bollard making sure people trying to spectate on areas of a circuit they’re not meant to be on. No, I didn’t understand why I was freezing my bits off in an orange tabard either.

A lot of people race but, as with almost every sport at amateur level, organising and helping is the preserve of a few. So this year I’m encouraging everyone to try to help out just the once this season.

It’s not much of an ask is it? All you’ve got to do is to make the decision to not race that week when you’re legs aren’t feeling so good, or when you’re coming back from a break. Or even when you’re club’s a body short at their one annual road race.

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