Any organisation which relies on the goodwill of unpaid volunteers is always going to have a big problem planning for the future. This is why sports organisations who don’t have a big enough income to supply multiple events across a season (like Scottish Cycling & most other Olympic discipline bodies) require a ‘buy-in’ from their membership in order to even attempt at planning for the next five years. It’s a tricky job, but as a starter they’ve published a draft ‘Event Strategy‘ for public consumption & feedback.
A New Thought Process
From what I’ve seen from Scottish Cycling recently on the ‘road’ side of things, I’m actually quite liking it! I know for some that’ll be hard to believe, they’ve quite rightly been ridiculed in the past for some blunders & exactly what we’re seeing them now trying to remedy, i.e. not having a coherent plan for all to see. The Scottish Cycling RDO’s (Regional Development Officers) seem like a very capable bunch, they are engaging with the clubs & seeking advice & guidance by meeting up in face-to-face sessions with club people.
This may be the key to all this, having good quality people in the ‘customer facing’ jobs, communicating information & getting their regions in order. It looks like the new structure, while not being ideal geographically, may have broken up a couple of the arse-facing old-guy networks of the ‘Centres’ & forced them into staying at home & watching ‘Take the High Road’ boxsets on their BetaMax video recorders. Hopefully this has opened the door to some more progressive types to get involved, or at least feel they’re not going to be asked to run the ‘Centre 50 Championships’ on a semi-motorway if they turn up.
It also pleased me to see that the recent Scottish Cycling event meeting was on a live stream, a relatively simple thing to do, but takes a little know-how & is a huge step forward. As I’ve said previously, if regional meetings could be carried out this way, with Skype type phone-ins from interested parties, then the people from the geographical extremes (or even just those not willing to drive an hour each way after work) can get involved. With a change in staff & attitude, we may actually get an event calendar out in time for the racing season for a change!
It’s starting to look like progress, comment doesn’t only come when things look poor, it also should arrive when things look good too, and these changes look positive for the future.
The 5 Year Plan
So this leads to the published draft document. As I see it, the document is currently too brief for what needs to be done, each area needs some more expansion & detail (I know, it’s a draft). There’s a lot of “Clear & Robust Calendar…”, but no detail on how that will be achieved.
Some initiatives helping Cycle-Cross & Time Trialling to progress would be good, these are areas where Scottish Cycling has lost out recently due to inaction or bad handling. Something as simple as a revised levy system could be looked at. We’re currently paying a premium (I’ve still not had an answer to this previous post on why it’s more expensive in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK to run events) for British Cycling insurance, which is based on mass start road races. Surely a lower fee could be arranged with an insurance provider for time trials & off-road events, where there isn’t the same perceived risk for an insurer. These two disciplines are starting to look very likely to leave the Scottish Cycling/British Cycling umbrella altogether unless Scottish Cycling decide to act.
I keep thinking that the sportive market can be targeted to get people to ride sporting time trials on ‘normal’ road bikes, rather than the TT bike dragstrip time chasers which could co-exist as the slightly odd uncle of time trialling. We could have some absolutely spectacular time trial courses in Scotland if we veer away from the flat imperial distance ones, opening up competitive sport to a whole new type of rider, who may then get involved in clubs & other disciplines that were previously hidden from them. To Scottish Cycling that means more members, which is their carrot to look into that idea with a revised levy system.
The focus on helping race organisers really has to come from current race organisers (not pre internet ones), rather than Scottish Cycling staff, so hopefully some willing people have been identified for that part of the plan.
From a ‘road & track’ side of things, I’d like to see something about access to facilities & a plan for some complimentary road series that would allow progression for riders, and allow coaches to see riders in action, rather than having the talent spread across various races. We need a focal point for road racing, but more importantly, we need somewhere for the crop of youth racers to race after they join the junior ranks. If we don’t set that up NOW, then we could lose some key riders who didn’t quite make the GB Academy. I think if anything needs addressed urgently in the Event Strategy, its junior racing, the youth riders are appearing & getting coaching, but where do they go from there?
All-in-all, putting a draft document out there for comment is a good healthy thing to do, make your comments to Scottish Cycling too please.