Somerset Hills Gran Fondo

Somerset Hills Gran Fodo…… mortem.

Hi everyone, I want to start by thanking all the riders that came to our 2015 event, it was great to see you and by the response we had you all enjoyed it even though it was as tough as you like!! The day went well, we had very few injuries in fact only a few scratches and bruises, on the whole everybody got round and we only broom “waggoned” a couple of exhausted riders.

I would like to also thank all the helpers, volunteers, medical services and my two sons for all their assistance. Sadly 2015 may have been the last S.H.G.F. Reason being that as participant numbers decline the event is no longer sustainable. Shock, horror as some of you cry it’s expensive but the fact is it really costs an enormous amount of dosh to pult an event like ours off. We have really tried hard. If you are disappointed by this let me explain more.

The fact is every organiser in the country, every Rotary, Round Table, P.T.A. Lions, charity and cycle clubs have, understandably, jumped on the highly successful band wagon. The calendar is bursting at the seems and folks like me who have been at the forefront of organised events for donkeys years are feeling the impact. You as a rider love it, more events, closer to home and more interested and varied terrain to conquer offers a bigger menu but this manifests in larger Sportives like ours diminishing in numbers and less income. What can we do about it??

I think I may have a solution, some of it you will like ie; reduce the entry fee, but to achieve this we need to trim some costs. We can do this by encouraging you, the rider, to carry your own food, it is after all an event where you are expected to be self sustainable; and we could change the format regarding signage or rather by providing No Signage!! We are suggesting that you the participant use your Garmins and phones by downloading the route and following the course. This is probably going to shock you all but my feeling is that increasingly we are all going to be forced in to this by public opinion in our lack of respect for the anti-signage folks and the determined minority who vandalise our signs or remove them or in some cases turn the bloody thing around sending you all off on a wild goose chase. Its frustrating, can ruin an event and creates mayhem. And I’m predicting its going to get worse. If you don’t have a Garmin or whatever, so what, sign on, get a written directions sheet and follow somebody else around who does have one, get organised.

So what do we do about it? My view is we spend shed loads of money on our high tech communications and navigation stuff so why don’t we use it , fully? It is after all “not a race”, and it really isn’t, although we all know what happens in reality. I think B.C. are eventually going to come down on our activities if we don’t get our stuff sorted. This may mean no insurance, its already been recognised as a problem. Moving on from that if we use our sophisticated electronics why do we need timing? We don’t. My Garmin tells me everything, distance , time the lot. So I’m suggesting we “Can” the timing. Some will cry “it’s an Audax but it isn’t it still enjoys the camaraderie of a mass participation bike ride.

It’s a radical approach but consider this, if I were offering you, the rider, secure parking, excellent medical cover, a covered sign on, a directional map, loads of loo’s, marshalls on route (some mobile), cake, tea and catering at the start/finish and an entry fee of around a tenner would you go for it????? One day we may have no choice. We have already been threatened with sign damage or removal from a local village, other said “we’ll chuck some tacks down”. I’m asking you to consider this, if you think it would work then myself and my team will persevere and “do” it again, if not then without a title sponser to help cover costs, we will be forced to stop.

If you like our event support us but if you don’t its over. For the time being all the best, have fun on your bike……….

- David Moore.

Web site - Tom Tookey