Has it already been 4 months since we hosted the Hillingdon round of the National Youth Circuit Series? Do you all remember what an absolutely fantastic day it was for the Club, spectators, and of course the almost 400 riders who took part? Well how about a few reminders…
First of all, the weather! Yes, such a cliched topic – but what a difference a full day of warm sunshine made to everyone; from the cyclists on the circuit, the volunteers judging, marshalling and helping out, and of course those of you cheering everyone one. One only has to check out our gallery of photos to see what a difference this made – smiles all round for sure!
Secondly, being organised. Call us boastful, but we really do have the best darn bunch of volunteers out there who brought it all together. From initial planning right through to on the day operational execution, the Slipstreamers family came together to make it happen. We certainly put on quite a show, and we are proud of it. Oh, and of course, all validated by the BC Commissaire’s report giving us “Excellent” comments all round for all aspects including race management, sign-on, staff competency, and facilities; wrapped up nicely with “The promotion was run to a very high standard, with all expectations of a national level event met.” We’ll take that!
And speaking of those incredible people who give up their time to put on these events – not just at Hillingdon – this could not have happened without you. Thank you to our amazing Volunteers from the set-up team in the morning and the cleanup crew in the evening; the warm and welcoming sign-on team; the catering helpers who ensured there was plenty of food for all; the mechanics who did the gear checking and helped with mechanicals; the young volunteers who fed and watered the marshalls; the Marshalls for being on their feet all day keeping a watchful eye; the First Aid team for being there after a few tumbles and handling events with “efficiency and humanity” (as described by a parent); the DJ/ PA team for keeping us entertained and informed; the Judges who never have it easy but somehow managed to remain calm and produce results under pressure; the runners for carrying these back and forth all day; and of course everyone else behind the scenes who played a part. You are all simply the best!
Scroll down to read about the experiences from a few of our adult Volunteers, young helpers, and of course members who raced! Enjoy…
A Few Words from Some of Our Adult Volunteers…
By Jeff Lloyd, Chief Mechanic Extraordinaire
:Never a dull moment with gear checking during a National Series race!
As usual, support came in the form of the usual HSS Mechanics Crew, and we ended up checking in the region of around 400 bikes that day! Now one doesn’t really tend to use the terms mechanics and exercise in the same sentence, but we reckon the amount of mileage we racked up walking backwards and forwards measuring bikes certainly worked off a fair amount of bacon rolls! Next year we might just use a pedometer!
Overall, we had a really good day, and most riders paid attention to the rules – but of course there are those that failed the checks when they should know better! On a lighter note, a parent from Wales brought his son’s bike along for him to race, but forgot his wheels! Normally in that situation, there would have been no race for the rider – but Slipstreamers came to the rescue and supplied 2 x 24″ wheels so his son could race after all. We like to be helpful that way!
All in all, a great day.”
By John Gunn, Club Vice Chairman, Chief Marshall
“The preparation officially started months ago at a Committee meeting. Asti and Dave George had made so much information available electronically everyone knew what they were doing. Several hundred emails had been exchanged between Committee and Volunteers, maybe 1000’s. Asti, Dave and Gavin had once again produced a programme of professional quality; and our Boss, Alison, had overseen it all, added bits here, taken bits out there.
Incredibly the weather forecast was for wall to wall sunshine and warmth – I’d been checking for two weeks and could not believe our luck. Would it all fall into place tomorrow morning? It is Friday night, there would be no drinks in the pub after volleyball this week, tomorrow we are hosting a round of the Nationals, to bed 2 hours earlier than normal tonight!
Saturday morning 05:45 and the alarm is ringing. I have to drop my toothbrush and rush out of the bathroom to turn it off before it wakes everyone in the house – I hadn’t needed it. I was buzzing. Arrive at the circuit at 07:30 and many are there before me. Young Volunteers! Teenagers! 07:30 on a Saturday morning? Well done all of you.
Everyone is put to work – there must be 60-70 people around, putting out stakes and tape, putting up flags, banners and notices, manning the approach gate and turfing people out who have sneaked in with volunteers and officals, people buttering rolls, people sorting numbers, prize money and floats! Sam (a real unsung hero, often first in and last out, never any fuss or moaning) and Nathan are setting off in E.V. to take bits to the apron and other parts of the circuit. “Sam!” I call, “can you take a broom and check for any glass or litter on the circuit?”. “I’ve already done that!” comes the reply.
A couple of trade stalls are setting up: 4Fourth Lights and Worx Bikes adding to the sense of occasion and supporting the club, gazebos are going up for the BBQ and hog roast. Our riders’ parents include A&E and ICU nurses come along to strengthen our team of first aiders and ex-paramedics – boy will they earn their stripes later! No first aid to administer, so they start by buttering rolls!
I’ve had a chat with the Volunteer Marshals, my area to cover for the day. Walkie talkies are charged and distributed, the obligatory hi-viz jackets are on, we’ll meet outside the clubhouse in half an hour and take up 10 positions around the 1 mile circuit so that no corner, straight, hairpin is out of sight of one of us. The circuit is closed to cars so the riders of all ages can warm up and familiarise themselves with the track. Time for that meeting, rules of marshalling reiterated, we cannot stop a race, all we can do is direct around a crash and report it’s location for first aid response. If the situation requires, call in for a commissaire to make a decision if it’s really bad.
We take up position, and 15 mins before all riders – other than those taking part in the first race – are called off the track. Let the fun begin!”
By Alison Grant, Club Chairman, Generalissimo
“After emails, meetings, reminders, lists, last minute to do’s, liaising with so many dedicated Volunteers, the day dawned. I missed dawn, but arrived at the clubhouse at 7.30am. As ever with our Volunteers, people were here before me already. After quick “Good Morning’s” it was all action and I am amazed how everyone worked so well and a whole village appeared within an hour.
I was having to remember where everything was stored for all the different area’s – of course the bits we needed were at the VERY bottom of a packed cage. Of course the cupboard was full of food and drink and we couldn’t get to the banners and then they were not there – where had they gone after the inter-club time trial? In the packed cage of course. Chloe needed the trophies to lay out on the tables and they were stored in the bottom boxes of the packed cage again. What could we use for marking out – I know I had seen the chalk somewhere, or would grass spray paint be better? Is there more tape? Should I get drinks set up? What food are we sending to the judges hut? Feather flags up but not staying up as so windy – we need to find sand bag weights.
Whilst rummaging in the container turn to see the first competitors arrive – dash back to the classroom which has been transformed into the sign-on hub and admin HQ with the gear checking colours for different age groups. Bump into wonderful Jemma putting up signs and asking where riders cannot put their rollers. Jack, another unsung YV, appears and I send him out with gloves and a black bag to pick up rubbish from the footpaths.
More food questions but Carol, who has spent the last week thinking food and drink for the day appears and she calmly just organises it all and sets to buttering rolls and cutting cake. Back over to gear checking and grab a cup of much needed coffee – Royce has set up his large van but can an ambulance get through? So we have to track down the owner of a car to move Royce forward but the queue for gear checking is snaking around it already. The BBQ is up and running and the smoke is just beginning, gazebo’s going up, the light van is setting up beside the containers, workxbikes appear and they have to get to the far side of the clubhouse – but we have just put all the tape up! Ralph has done a sterling job on the gate I can see John giving his talk to the marshals and then the commissaires are here. Time to get serious – it’s about to start.
So based in the classroom John has given me a walkie talkie to communicate with the Commissaires and Judges’ hut, as well as Chief Marshal. Throughout the day questions and queries: send a licence as a competitor needs to be spoken to; why is the wi-fi SO slow?; why are there more numbers than signatures?; where are the results?; why has my child not been placed – he clearly came a lap down, that result can’t be right?; when can we sign on? (despite large notices everywhere with sign on times!); where are the sign on sheets for the next race?; why havn’t they got to the comms on time?… … The questions just kept coming.
Throughout it all the serene Asti and her computer had the answers – we hoped. Seth and Simon used their bike skills all day going back and forward with sheets for the Commissaires, results from the Judges and food. Interspersed with the results, pick up the microphone from the PA system manned by the wonderful Harriet – I never got to hear music except to request it to be stopped for the announcements and hope I pronounced all the winners names correctly.
I have noticed over the now many years of being involved with cyclists that nothing can seem to be achieved without a cup of tea and so I departed to the kitchen to get one. The ladies there have not stopped serving all day and have been on their feet continuously. As have the marshals, the BBQists, gear checkers, bell ringers, flag wavers.
I had not got to see any racing so whilst the under 16 girls were on and the sun was shining down, I ventured out. To find more questions were asked and had to dive back in to find ice packs for the first aiders. Back out, determined to see racing and just walking down the gravel path when the race is stopped with a huge crash that needs all hands on deck. Phone back to the clubhouse to prepare them that the wounded will be arriving en masse, and then back to the clubhouse to help. I never got to see a race all day – I do hope others did.
And then we were still waiting for the results… Eventually they arrived after more questions from the riders, as they all had to be somewhere. Some were off to a One Direction concert back in their native Wales, others off to see the Nocturne, others back on the motorway to Yorkshire. All wanting results, trophies and money!
Whilst waiting, volunteers appeared to clear stakes, take down gazebo’s, re-pack that cage and put everything back to where we started. I noticed all those who had been on their feet all day now had an odd walk if they could mange to walk at all. There was a mountain of black bags which were put into peoples cars, last minute clearing up, check the clubhouse was clear and THEN we find the blocked toilet!
After trying and failing to clear it we end up putting up an out of order notice and the last to leave at 7.30pm – wow where did 12 hours go? – locking gates behind us and locking up the overflow car park.
I never did get to the car park guys…”
By Dave George, Head Coach, Judge Guru Supreme
“It’s been a few years since Steve May handed me a clipboard and a pencil, along with the instruction “write what you see”. Yes, that was my judging training completed.
Since then, race judging has become a “bit of a thing”. Whenever the Hillingdon round of the Nationals appears, it becomes quite a lot of a thing. Judging is not difficult – the finish line camera works very well (as long as the sun isn’t shining down the lens) and records a rider’s position as they finish. But what the camera does not do is differentiate between a lapped rider and a finishing rider. Nor does it read numbers pinned in bizarre or unreadable positions, and neither does it spot riders hiding alongside each other. This is where the human touch comes in.
The basic training is just as described above. If you can see a number, and can write it down, and keep track of a sequence, you’re qualified!
On Nationals day, we get to set-up a splendid looking judging area, tape it off, and adorn it with our “Race Officials Only” signs. This is our home for the day – and we’re not just parading those hi-viz jackets for fun – this is serious business! There is seldom opportunity to get back to the clubhouse, so food and drink is brought up to the front line for us. We always have a good crowd of volunteers – This year we had Andy Buckroyd, Zoe and Tim Allsop, Tom and Savannah Hewson, Martin Dawson, Hannah Keating and Jemma Bowler – not all at once – judges come and go depending on their availability for the day. Everyone contributing to recording as much data as possible.
Most people don’t realise that the immediately after a race the only raw data we have is just a string of numbers. If riders approach us and ask “where did I come?” – we have to reply “We don’t know – yet!”. And don’t forget Mark Doel! Mark sets up the camera, and is instrumental in analysing the footage with the judging team. The numbers are then taken away, cross referenced with the start sheets and the camera. We need to pick out the girls from the boys in mixed gender races. After gear checks, any riders that are disqualified are then identified, and any riders that did not finish are marked accordingly. We don’t always get it right first time!
With some races containing a bunch finish of over 60 riders, we have a job of unpicking events to form a result. Sometimes this goes on for sometime after the race has finished – and sometimes we need to speak to riders to get their perspective and input into the result. We want to get as much as we can to be accurate. Only after the judging sheets are collated and all the camera information analysed can a result be posted as official to the BC website – as we are all aware, delays can happen but behind the scenes everyone works incredibly hard to get the information out.
One thing’s for sure – without a judging team it would be impossible to begin to start a result. The more people that are involved in recording numbers sometimes means that we have a better picture of events – one judge may miss something whilst another may see it. This is why we always encourage people to get involved and have a go by joining us.
For riders, please remember:
- Always put your number on the correct side so we can see it!
- Never modify the size of your number by making it smaller – we might miss it!
- Never crumple your number – it’s difficult to pick out 6,8,9 when you’re sprinting at 30mph!
- Always thank your volunteering officials – there would be no racing without them.
Maybe I’m biased, but nobody puts on around of the Nationals better than Slipstreamers. We aim to be the “Gold Standard” for youth cycling everywhere. This is OUR day, and we should all be so proud to be part of a volunteer run organisation that shines again and again.
Same again next year?”
A Few Words from Some of Our Young Helpers…
By Jack Gleeson, U16 Slipstreamer, BC Young Volunteer
“As it was my first experience of volunteering at the Nationals, I didn’t know what to expect. But as usual, I had a great time. It was nice to see children from other clubs racing competitively.
My volunteering involved putting up flags, clearing up rubbish, stocking the canteen. It was also a good opportunity to have time to talk to my friends without cycling ourselves.
There was a great sense of teamwork from all who helped at Slipstreamers and my friends and I even managed to do a few selfies!”
By Jemma Bowler, U14 Slipstreamer
“Recently, I broke my wrist so I haven’t been able to race for a couple of weeks. This meant that I wasn’t able to do the national on Saturday at Hillingdon. However, I still went there and helped out. Firstly, I woke up at 5:50 AM and got to Hillingdon at 7:20 AM to start setting up for the races.
To do this I helped out by putting up the signs to direct people who haven’t been to Hillingdon before to go towards the clubhouse for sign on and to warm up. I had 2 very helpful friends: Maddie and Abbie to help me put them up. Also Elizabeth was putting signs up around the judge’s hut to tell people that it was officials only in some places. It was great fun as while I was doing this I met a lot of my friends and people who helped me when I crashed as I haven’t seen them since.
After that I helped John set off the under 8’s race and marked out a pits lane. Then I just helped around by keeping the other cyclists ready for their race. While all of the other adults were getting ready for the U10’s race I was cheering on the Slipstreamers who were racing. I was really impressed with Maddie as she won and had such a great race. (Along with the other Slipstreamers too).
Afterwards, it was lunch so Elizabeth and I took all of the commissaires, helpers and official’s lunch orders. So we went to the BBQ to get the food and also to get our own. This was a very busy mad rush as the BBQ already had a long line of people waiting. To help Elizabeth and me to carry up the food Tim and Seth were on their mountain bikes so the food got to the people quicker. It was really funny as we ordered too many burgers and we had to keep asking into the radio who’s it was, luckily we got an owner to the burger so it didn’t go to waste.
Later on in the day, there wasn’t much to do as the older cyclists could take care of themselves more than the younger ones. This meant that I could start another job, Judging. Dave very kindly showed me how to judge. I judged all of the other races. This was really fun and I would love to do it again.
Sadly, the day ended and I helped clear up and gave some of the prizes out. It was such a great day and I was happy the whole way through!!!
The day was fab!!!”
By Seth Kanaris, U14 Slipstreamer, BC Young Volunteer
“The Race I didn’t Actually Do…
On a very hot and sunny day in June, Hillingdon Slipstreamers hosted a round of the National Youth Circuit Series. We arrived there early, and almost instantly got to work with preparing for the day ahead. My first task involved giving the mechanics some signs and some tape to put them up with; followed by me and Tim doing a lap around the circuit to check for any litter on the track that could potentially obstruct the race. The various puddles of sick on the side of the track by the bus stop weren’t too pleasant.
For the rest of the morning, Tim, Ralph and I were basically on gate duty telling people that they weren’t allowed to drive through the gate unless they were a Volunteer. We clearly didn’t really get through to all of them because a surprising number of people consistently kept trying to open the gate! We let a few people through that genuinely looked like they could barely walk because we’re nice people, but I think we did a good job of policing the gate overall. It was a very stressful job – if you count swinging on the gate and getting told off for it as hard work!
When people started to file in and the first race got underway, myself, Simon and Tim our day jobs as runners began. Basically that involved going back and forth from the sign-on room to the Judges’ hut, delivering results and sign on sheets, whilst ferrying burgers back and forth. Effectively, we were being couriers for Mark Dole and my Mum!
One interesting point of observation for me was when the U16 girls were at 7 laps to go – it was proving to be quite an intense race – a bit of a tumble took place and about 10 riders came off! About 5 minutes before the crash, Barry and Shirley needed to top up on medical equipment (ice packs and surgical gloves), which I guess is a good thing that they asked for this otherwise we would have been in a bit of a pickle considering the accident! Anyway, it was quite fascinating watching the people with very high first aid skills tend to the injured, mostly because of the way they managed to talk to them and reassure them, simultaneously checking them out and doing basic first aid on the spot!
Watching the races was actually pretty cool as well. Personally, I much prefer mountain biking, however I have to admit that especially as you got into the older categories, the speed of the riders was phenomenal!! It was pretty cool standing on the start line and watching guys on insanely light bikes and aero gear blitz it at crazy speeds just under their own steam! Well done to everybody who raced, you all did exceptionally well!
At the end of the day when the races were finished, I helped out a lot with the packing up of things (and had a ride on E.V.). So I didn’t race, but what did I get out of the day? Well if you put aside the fact that I acquired 8 hours of volunteering, I learnt a lot about road racing in general, and experienced hands-on the hard work that actually goes in to running an event like this. And I got sunburn!”
A Few Words from Some of Our Riders…
By Jed Smithson, U10 Slipstreamer, National Series Champ
“I was feeling confident before the race considering it is my home track. Also I had won other Nationals this year which also gave me confidence.
In the race there were a few strong attacks but the group closed them down pretty quickly. I tried one attack but Joe closed me down straight away so I decided to sit in the group. The race did vary in pace quite a lot but I did not see any other opportunities to try another attack.
The race was also quite short compared to Monday nights so the tactics needed to be different. On the approach to the last lap I tried one more sneaky attack but got closed down. So it was going to go down to the sprint at the finish. It was therefore about positioning coming on to the finish straight. Last year my position was terrible and I was boxed in so I wanted to make sure that would not happen this time. I also had one last trick that I have practised in other Hillingdon races as it was a tailwind finish which proved decisive for the result.
When I went on the podium I was very proud that I brought it home on my home track. National races have been my favourite this year as I see so many friends and have made many more new friends. I also want to say Well Done to all the Hillingdon riders who took part in the racing and did so well. It was great having Joe on the podium with me.”
By Caitlin Loveless, U10 Slipstreamer
“On Saturday it was very hard to keep with the group because they were going so fast – but I hung on. It was down to the final sprint with me, Awen and Bethany.
I couldn’t see Awen so I didn’t know were she came, but I thought I came 1st. It was great to find out that I won!
Congratulations to all the other racers!”
By Lucy Allsop, U10 Slipstreamer
“I normally race mountain biking so doing road was different. I knew I wouldn’t do very well because the other girls are a lot quicker than me. I am better at mountain biking because there are rocks, roots, drop offs, tight corners and mud.
It was good, but I prefer mountain biking!”
By Maddie Emment, U8 Slipstreamer
“I really enjoyed the Nationals. It was a long day and I really liked helping Jemma at the Judges hut and doing important jobs.
I also won my race and got a big trophy! Dave told me to fill it with sweets, I think that’s a great idea.”
By Oliver Emment, U12 Slipstreamer
“The nationals was a brilliant day, very long as we helped out all day volunteering.
I had my first National race as an U12 and it was a huge field of almost 70 riders. I was a bit nervous but it was a great race. My goal was to try and stay with the bunch to the finish and I was very proud that I managed to do that, as it was really fast and I had to work hard.
After my race I borrowed a bike from the mechanics and helped out where ever I was needed. I had great time.”
By Kim Bowler, U8 Slipstreamer
“On Saturday 6th June was the National at Hillingdon. All week I was looking forward to this big day and now it was finally here. When me, my dad and my sister arrived we found a space to place our bikes and I got on the rollers.
As I rolled to the start line on the track I changed into the correct gear before placing myself on the starting line. We went through the rules and how many laps we where racing for. I tried to get a good start and I did but I didn’t go with the most of the racers because they set off a bit too fast for me. I kept at my own pace, a girl overtook me, but I passed her because she was too tired. On the final lap I over took Elise Hawkins from Palmer Park but she sat on my wheel and at the line beat me. I finished in 6th place.
I had so much fun. It was such a cool day. After I worked at the barbecue! At the end of the day we packed the car and headed for home.”