There has been a lot of chat recently about the high cost of racing, so it’s refreshing to hear that the Racer’s Guild have been running free grassroots races for a while now.
Their latest event is a chance for you to race against the mighty Steve Peat, read on for the info:
The Racer’s Guild runs grassroots racing for free at a small hill called Stile Cop in Cannock Chase, which is north of Birmingham here in the UK. We’ve been gaining momentum all year and have run 10 “practices” – one a month – since last January, and have no intentions of letting up! We’ve got a great formula that regularly attracts 60 to 80 local riders from pros to young guns and beginners. We’ve had over 200 people join us, and in the last year we’ve seen our local ride spot completely transformed from a spattering of misfit trails and strangers to a community of friendly and committed riders and 8 official, maintained downhill tracks. And thanks to some very enthusiastic members, we’ve even managed to get Steve Peat down to join us for a little charity event to raise money for the Athlete Recovery Fund and Stephen Murray.
The Beat Steve Peat event will happen on November 15 at Cannock Chase, and will include our regular timed practice in which we’ll compare rider’s times with Peaty’s to establish handicaps to level the playing field for the 2nd event in the afternoon. It’s gonna be a blast, especially to watch Peaty rip up our home trails, and to top it all off we’re hoping to raise £3,000 for ARF and Stephen through sponsorship. We’ve only got room for 100 riders, so if you’re interested you best pop on over to racersguild and register online.
Heading up the microphone we have the pulled in the best in the land, none other than Si Paton who will keep you entertained and informed on the days racing and the riders.
If you can’t make the event, but still want to help out Stephen Murray, you can donate online at www.firstgiving.com/racersguild.
To keep you on track with all your spares and repairs we have secured the guys from Descent-Gear.com who will be turning up with their big van rammed full of all the essentials and latest goodies and some one off Forest of Dean Racers Specials!
If you’re wondering how the Racer’s Guild works and how we got started, then read on. The reason it works so well is that it’s easy, chilled out, and offers most of the kicks of real racing but costs zero to enter. On the day, anyone can show up, take a race number and sign in, grab a start time of their choice and then get timed. You can take as many runs as you want (or as we have available), and there’s no waiting around because you can ride other trails in between runs and then just show up on the start line when it’s your turn. The cool thing is that we record all your runs, and they all go into a giant spreadsheet and appear on the RG website a few days later, along with stats for all the riders, so you can compare your times with friends. So what we call “practice” for legal purposes can turn out to be a lot like a race!
Because our hill is a bit on the stumpy side – one minute runs is all – we don’t need an uplift. That means we can get insurance cover under standard club insurance provided by British Cycling. Since that’s cheap for us, we don’t need to pass those costs on. We do have a dedicated first aider on site, which costs us a bit more, but gets covered by whatever we collect in the donations tin. With insurance and medic covered, we did a risk assessment and the Forestry Commission gave us the thumbs up! Our timing system is a couple of synchronized stopwatches and radios, so that’s cheap as well. Anyone could do it. You might think a one minute track is kinda lame, but nobody seems to mind and frankly, not chucking your pride and joy into a cattle trailer every run is not necessarily a bad thing! We’ve even got some top drawer photographers at each one, and a dedicated video man so there’s loads of media to check out online after a practice.
All of this came about when local rider and trail crew volunteer Aaron Neumann was trying to figure out a way to attract more volunteers to help work on the downhill trails. We only had three committed guys, and it was always a struggle to bring more in. Plans were hatched to have timed practices after a trail building session, along with the website and forum to generate a local community. The rest is history. We now have over a dozen regular trail building volunteers that have been drawn in by the practices. We’ve been able to accomplish loads – from new rock gardens to a new technical race track. Everyone it seems has caught the spirit…let’s hope it keeps spreading!
Beat top mountain bike rider and ex world champion Steve Peat at Cannock Chase