Following the cancellation of Kells Road Race last year, I thought that it might be good to explain some things about road racing, for people who come to spectate for the first time. The information is based on my short experience of road racing in Ireland (North & South).
*They are organised by clubs, not to make money but by passionate people to allow the fans to watch the best racing by passionate riders. Clubs are happy if they can cover the huge costs. If there is some money left, it is kept for the following year.
*Except for the 2 International races and Armoy, they don’t receive public funds.
*They are mostly financed by sponsoring, the entry fee from the riders and the price of the ticket (if any) and/or programme sale. Some also with some merchandising. Please always pay the ticket (if any) and/or BUY A PROGRAMME! There is the information on the racers and most of the times some great articles to get some entertainment when no racing is on.
*The insurance cost to cover the event is huge. And has to be paid even if one day is cancelled.
*Some clubs have to stop organising during 1 or 2 years due to financial reasons if one year funds are not enough (cancellation or too few people, mainly due to bad weather).
*In case of the event is cancelled, there is no “money back”. The price of the entry is very CHEAP for 2 days watching the best racing; real fans have to understand that some costs are fix costs, with or without the event running. If you don’t want to “take the risk” to “pay for nothing”, then better to stay at home if they plan a rainy day.
*The national road races are very cheap, they are about 10€/10£ per day, with programme at 5-10€/£. Sometimes you may have to pay for carpark (not all), for 5€/£. In some you have optional access to grandstand for about 5€/£. Knowing that you are going to be watching the best racing in the world, it is VERY CHEAP. And the money you spend will be used to run the event and allow this great sport to keep going.
*The organisation is done by VOLUNTEERS, who give their personal time to prepare the races during several months for the administrative part (getting authorisations, finding sponsors, attracting riders…), and weeks to prepare the track (hedges cutting, mark prohibited areas, put on the grandstands, prepare the paddock, put the protection bales around the circuit, etc.).
*There is a great lot of PEOPLE (professionals and prepared personnel) involved, volunteers as the traveling marshals, the flag marshals around the circuits, the Medical team (including traveling doctor), etc. And not to forget the emergency teams: ambulances, firemen, helicopter, and the police.
Traveling Marshals (Kells 2016)
Flag Marshal (Cookstown 2016)
Traveling Doctor (Doctor Fred McSorley- Armoy 2015)
Helicopter (Kells 2015)
*Some practical advice (Irish people can skip the first 2 advice as for what we saw around he circuits, they seem to be quite “badweatherproof” 😉 )
-Take some warm clothes, hat and/or baseball cap, some suncream (sometimes it’s sunny!), and an umbrella (big and strong). In Ireland the weather is very changeable, and personally we like to be ready for any eventuality… I don’t like to be wet 😉 .
–Waterproof boots. Many times we have to cross fields to get around the circuit when the roads are closed, and they might become quite muddy in case of rain. Better to keep the feet dry.
-If you have room for it, camping seats for resting. (If no room, a big strong plastic bag may do!).
-We usually bring some water and dry fruits in case there is no catering where we chose to watch. We usually start the day with a full Irish breakfast, which helps to hold most of the day if there is no food available around.
-If you come with smallies, it’s highly recommended to use ear protectors adapted to their small ears.
And most important:
–Always respect what the marshals say, respect the prohibited areas, it is a dangerous sport and a sliding bike can cover several hundreds of metres before stopping.
–Do not cross the road in places where there are no marshals to inform when it is safe to cross. NEVER cross the road when racing/practice has started.
–Always respect the fields and fences: they are all private properties the landowners accept to put at the public disposal for a week-end. Pick up your wastes and put them in the bins.
(Skerries 2016 – it was not very warm as you can see 😀 )
-If possible, avoid red clothes to avoid confusion with red flags (yeah, I know, I have to change my jacket… lol).
-If you take pictures, don’t use the flash (which will be useless anyway) as it may blind the riders. If you use a selfie stick, use it with common sense so that it won’t be dangerous for the riders.
-Drones are prohibited around the circuit for obvious security reasons (apart from the legal ones).
-With a little bit of common sense and good mood, you will have a great time for sure, whatever the weather conditions…
If you think about any additional advice or information, feel free to tell me in the comments!