Feature: Organising a Road Race

In September, Shutt Velo Rapide’s Justin Belcher, a racer himself, organised a 2/3/4 road race in Oxfordshire – we quiz him about organsing that race …

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Feature: Organising a Road Race

Organiser Justin Belcher from Shutt Velo Rapide presents Evan Clements, who happens to race in Justin’s brand of clothing, with his trophy and prizes

Back in September, it was many an organisers nightmare as the day of the race, the Shutt VR Ridley Road Race for category 2/3/4 riders, dawned very wet indeed with the rain falling out of the sky. But, with a team of dedicated volunteers to help him, Justin Belcher got the show on the road and his bonus was seeing a victory by a rider racing his own brand of clothing, Shutt VR.

When asked what was the inspiriation to organise the road race, Justin replied “We’re very aware that most of the regional calendar is organised by traditional cycling clubs, but the small commercially sponsored teams are pinching all the best riders. As one of those teams, we think it’s important that we organise events ourselves. If we don’t – the sport will suffer. And with my Shutt hat on, the exposure is great for the brand too. So it’s win – win”.

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The course for the race was a testing one, with a lengthy drag uphill each lap and an even longer version for the finale where Evan Clements was fastest to the top to grab the best of the prizes from Shutt VR. I asked Justin what he was looking for course wise when planning the race, and were the available choices used already for races?

Justin replied “I’ve raced on most of the courses in British Cycling’s Central region and this one was always one of my favourites. It doesn’t get used that often either, so makes a nice change for the riders. The hill at the end is a killer too – which always makes for a good finale.”

So where does some one who races start when organising their first race? “I contacted British Cycling back in November 2017 to find out what was involved. The are lots of resources on the BC website and the Central Region team are really helpful”.

Asked what was the toughest part of the race organisation, Justin says “The Horton-cum-Studley circuit is much longer than average and needs a lot of marshals. As a small racing team, we don’t have the same number of people to call on as a large cycling club so finding enough helpers was the biggest challenge. We got there in the end but it was a worry. We had five guys racing so everyone else had to help out. Friends and family too. It was a team effort”.

With horrendous wet and cold conditions, it was not just the riders who were suffering the effects of the weather as Justin explains. “In retrospect, it probably would’ve been better to put the signage out the evening before. We had two guys out in the torrential rain from dawn. That was a tough job. And I had to paint the finish line twice. My first attempt got washed away by the rain!”

As the event was organised by Justin who has helped Shutt VR become a well known clothing brand with off the shelf clothing as well as custom kit, the prize list for the riders was generous and varied. “We gave away a decent amount of kit and some cash prizes” he explained. “The prize fund was pretty generous for a regional race and the winner got a Roubaix top and some cash. Other prizes included base layers, socks and caps”.

One thing Justin had no control over was the winner and what brand of clothing they were wearing so I put it to Justin he must have been pretty happy that the winner was in Shutt VR on a day which was a severe test of rider’s clothing. “It was fantastic! Abingdon Race Team are a good customer of our custom service. They’ve been with Shutt for a couple of years now so it’s great to see them winning races in our kit. Luke Souter from The Shutt Ridley team won best Vet too which was nice for us”.

It isn’t just teams like the one the winner was from who take advantage of the custom clothing Shutt VR provide as Justin explained. “Aside from clubs, we have lots of shops coming to us as customers as well as cycling holiday companies. We get a lot of charity riders and corporate groups ordering kit in the summer and just groups of fiends who like to look great riding together in high quality bespoke kit”.

So finally, will Justin and his team be organising again in 2019? “Yes, of course! We’re hoping to add a women’s race to the day next year as well” …


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