Talkingshop: National Trophy Organiser Dave Mellor

VeloUK talks to National Trophy organiser for Shrewsbury, Dave Mellor who gives us an insight into what it takes to put on a major event

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

| Round 5 | Sunday 16 December | Shrewsbury Sports Village SY1 4RQ |
| Round 4 Report & Results | Start Sheet for Round 5 in Shrewsbury  |

Sitting in the office of a big bike shop just outside the centre of Shrewsbury, the owner of that shop, Dave Mellor, is juggling different jobs. One of those is heading up a team that is organising the next round of the National Trophy (cyclo-cross) in Shrewsbury at the Sports Centre. Dave is one of the doers in the world and I doubt if he could be more involved in the cycling world if he tried.

Dave Mellor ensures there is plenty of tape lining the course at last year’s race.

On the committee of his local cycling club since he was 16, Dave not only has a shop well worth a visit with its hundreds of bikes and some serious ‘bling’, but he has also organised races of all types including Premier Calendars, mountain bike events and of course, ‘cross races. There is no doubting his passion for the sport of cycling and it’s a cycling family with both Dave and partner Melanie (Women’s Tour de France 3 times) having been racing cyclists and their offspring now following in those wheelmarks.

Dave explained that he used to ride a bit (still does!) and was part of a local Centre of Excellence and it wasn’t until he rode in Europe he saw just where he stood in the pecking order as a racing cyclist. He very quickly changed his focus and started to concentrate on the admin side of the sport and has now spent over twenty years organising races.

Last year, Dave headed up a team from the local club, Mid Shropshire Wheelers, sponsored by Dave Mellor Cycles, to put on a round of the National Trophy at the last minute. “Another organiser had to cancel” Dave explained “and so we had the Trophy final at Shewsbury and the step up from regional (West Midlands round) to National Trophy was quite stark”.

“There were some regulations we had to learn about and having done that it helps us this year”.

Expect some changes to the off camber section at next Sunday’s event.

Dave also admits his organising team are also lucky to have the Shrewsbury Sports Centre as the venue and that the move to organising a National Trophy was always a planned one. His team for example have been working on the wooded area for a few years already to make it viable for a course and prior to the round of the West Midlands League in September, more work was done in there and because of the winter, that work back then has helped keep down the worked needed now for the National Trophy.

The biggest chore it seems is cleaning the mud off of the roads at the centre. After the last Trophy, Dave and his team spent all Monday with jet washers cleaning the roads. “We’re praying for a frost or some snow this year!” says Dave. Look at the weather for Saturday, he made get the frost wish come true!

The organising team numbers around five while on the day there are also twenty marshals to add to that list of volunteers. Then there’s the lap scorers with Jim Court and his team as well as the PA truck and a commentator.

“It is quite nice with the Trophy in that it’s the club’s job to provide the course” says Dave. “All the revenue from the event goes to British Cycling and the club doesn’t get anything. We provide the course so what I have to do is negotiate with the Sports Village to let us have the venue for free which they have done this time.”

Last year saw Paul Oldham clinch the National Trophy at Shrewsbury

“It’s a multi use area and as football is big in the winter, they will lose money as they have had to cancel football matches as we go close to the pitches. So there is a lot of co-operation between the organising team and the sports village. We’re (the club) left to cover the cost of some barriers because we have a public right of way on the course that needs to be barriered because we had a few problems with the public on the course.”

Dave explained that it’s as simple as marking out the course and then after the event, taking it down and cleaning up. There is for sure going to be a lot more work such as the building of a gate so there is a separate exit and entrance to the woods but for an experienced organiser such as Dave, he seems very relaxed about it all a week out from the event.

“Because it’s a sports village, the course is fenced off so a lot of the prep work can be done the day before on the Saturday” he explained. “Due to the popularity of the woods with local youngsters, that can’t be done until late in the day which means the head torches are used to put the tape up.”

The course for 2013 has had praise says Dave from experienced riders like Dan Booth due to the changes made to the course for this season’s National trophy event. One of the spectacular parts of the course is the off’camber ‘banked section’ on the side of the hill and that has needed some changes says Dave.

“It was a great spectacle but we have to remember it’s a bike race and we had to plan accordingly. In September, that section was like riding a velodrome. If you were skilful enough, you could ride across it. It will be muddy this time though and while we’re still going to use that section, the entry into it will be slightly different to try and avoid people falling off. We want it to be a bike race so we’ll go in at a different angle so they can ride across that section”.

One of the stars at Shrewsbury the last time the National Trophy was held there was Liam Killeen who won the race

With no major sponsor, and funds from the club used to put the event on, Dave admits there is no money to pay foreigner’s to ride the event and a big sponsor would be good to make that happen.

As well as an organiser of a National Trophy, Dave is also kept busy travelling the country with his son Ewan who competes in the Youth events in the National Trophy. Asked is the National Trophy getting bigger as the sport gains in popularity, Dave replies “it’s like the Premier Calendar where there is only six events on next year and the cyclo-cross National Trophy will go the same way probably.”

“Here in the West Midlands, we’ve already had the debate about whether we promote on days when the National Trophy is on. We have 500 members registered for the West Midlands league and probably only 20 are going to the National Trophy.”

“With the bike shop doing okay, we are lucky enough to be able to afford to do them. But going to Ipswich, Southampton, South Shields, etc; it’s a 100 quid of fuel each time and because Ewans’ race is at 1.30pm, we can afford to drive up that day. If you put an overnight in that cost as well, that amount is even higher, 200 quid at least for the weekend and a lot of people are put off by that.”

“So I think the numbers for them are dropping off a bit while the numbers for the West Midlands are huge. It’s growing and if you go to a race in Cannock, Lichfield and the Birmingham races, it’s so huge. Clubs turn up with their easy ups and club coaches and these clubs are so professional with coaches taking groups round the course to pre-ride it. The league is very successful and the sport is for sure growing.”

The course for 2013.

That growth says Dave, will see some riders progressing from the regional league to the National Trophy but the bottom line is that the sport is growing, something he has seen in his shop. Dave Mellor Cycles now has many different brands of cyclo-cross bikes in stock and customers travel from far and wide to look at them and purchase one to start racing.

It isn’t just bikes but even things like tyres where Dave explained there are now many brands providing clinchers or tubs for use in ‘cross and in some cases, companies will even have custom tyres made with a specific tread for different conditions.

So if you’re heading to Shrewsbury, go up a day early perhaps and check out the shop because it’s certainly big enough to keep you busy with its variety of bikes including cyclo-cross ones which is an area that Dave himself and staff are well versed in.

Thanks to Dave for him time and good luck to him and his team for the race on Sunday. VeloUK will of course be there!




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