Bec HC needs help
I’ve competed once and watched a number of times at the Bec.
This event, and the Catford one on the same day, form part of a double header that’s a unique challenge to those of us who ride bikes for personal satisfaction, a small chance of glory, and to enjoy the struggle of testing themselves against gravity while cheered on by clubmates and rivals.
I’m nowhere near the “big boys” who come to win the prizes. I’m just about good enough to scrape in half way. This doesn’t matter. To me or the other competitors, my club mates, and the spectators who’ve come along to marvel, point, laugh, and encourage anyone stupid enough to try and hurl themselves up a pretty nasty hill as fast as they can.
And that’s what’s important about your event. I’m racing. I might not be racing for the podium or the top 10, but I’m racing for myself, for my club, and for those who want to watch. And the hope I might get a cup of tea when I hand my numbers in. Oh. And to make sure I’m faster than Ned bloody Boulting…..
Grouping an event like this with a mass participation event such as a sportives is ridiculous. I’ve only ever done one sportive, and I promised I’d never do another. They represent a completely different aspect to cycling events.
They charge people to ride in a group around a route that is freely available for an entrance fee and a free energy gel. They don’t encourage people to join clubs, they don’t encourage people to be respectful of the area they cycle through (“I paid for this so I should get everything I can from it”), and they generally encourage the bucket list tickers who can say “done that” and move on.
I can understand the requirement for the council to ensure the road is safe, the event is safe, and people who live nearby are considered. However, given the Bec (and the Catford event) have been running for at least 2 generations now I would have thought most of the local people are aware and at least fairly tolerant of it all by now.
The Bec HC has fairly minimal impact upon the local environment, and also on local traffic. I’m fairly certain the number of motor vehicles looking to travel up or down White Lane for the duration of the day would not be massively inconvenienced by continuing their journey either up Titsey to the roundabout or to the roundabout and descending Titsey. In fact, some might argue encouraging vehicles to go this way anyway, when you consider the gradient of the road and the width of the road, would probably be safer in the long term anyway.
It would be safe to say that placing further administrative burden upon the “end of term” events that Hill Climbs represent would not be beneficial to the progression of amateur cycling in the UK. People strive for competition, to place themselves in a line and say “better than them, worse than them”. They do this throughout the year in time trials, crit races, cyclocross races, track leagues, and bmx races.
Mass participation events such as sportives represent a completely different world; one organised and structured to make a profit from those who have just recently discovered cycling in the UK. There is a place for them. But they are not there for the long term. Those organising them will quickly move on to the next projects designed to extract money from keen individuals.
This event, and others like it, are there to celebrate all of those who are involved in cycling in the UK. From the old gaffers organising the event, to those riding, to those clubmates who offer support through out the year, and to those put upon family members who show off their catering, organisational, and motivational skills year round.
It would not be an overstatement to say the closure of this event would cause huge upset to those involved in the event. Preventing a sportif will not, the people involved will just find another one to join.
I don’t often have a pleading post on here, but if you’ve got a tenner to spare throw it at the Bec pledge page.