(last updated July 2019)
What has been happening in the cycling event sector
Cycling as a sport has enjoyed a surge in media coverage thanks to the success of British cyclists at recent Olympic Games and World Championships. While the Tour de France has enjoyed a high media profile for a number of years, and in particular in the late 2000s and first half of the 2010s due to the success of British riders Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish, other disciplines have started to enjoy similar coverage. For example, television coverage of track cycling and BMX is now reasonably common following the British cycling team's success at recent Olympic Games and, although not as mainstream, Red Bull TV regularly covers downhill mountain biking and other cycling events.
More and more cycle facilities, such as BMX tracks and trail centres, have also been opened in recent years and this has boosted the popularity of cycling at the grass roots level. However, small regional events often operate on very tight margins and need a certain number of entries in order for them to cover their costs and make a profit. Some cycling disciplines can be expensive to participate in (the bikes alone can cost several thousand pounds) and the extra cost of attending an event may act as a deterrent to all but the most dedicated. The economic downturn of the late 2000s/early 2010s and high fuel costs (many people travel significant distances to attend events) led to fewer entries. The economy improved from 2013 until 2015 and fuel prices fell to the levels last seen in the late 2000s, meaning consumers had more disposable income for pursuing activities like cycling events. The economy slowed in the second half of 2015 and into 2016 but consumers continued to spend, particularly on activities and experiences. The uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote in June 2016 and the subsequent negotiations, higher inflation and consumers' loss of confidence in the economy resulted in the economy performing sluggishly in 2017, with little or no growth being predicted for 2018 and 2019. Fuel prices edged back up in 2016 and 2017 and the reduction in disposable income is once again likely to affect the level of entries to cycling events.
Nevertheless, a series of cycling events can succeed as long as it is well run and offers its participants the level of service that they would expect from their entry fee. Offering prizes is not essential (and, in many disciplines, not common) but an event is more likely to attract the most talented riders (for example, those that are world-ranked) if there is some incentive for them to enter. An added incentive to entrants is if an event is sanctioned by British Cycling or Cycling Ireland - or the International Cycling Union (UCI) - and so offers ranking points. Event organisers also gain access to an online event management system as well as the use of an online entry system.
You will have to decide whether:
- there is sufficient demand in your area to support your proposed venture, although you may be confident that your events will attract riders from outside of your local area as well
- you will be able to compete against other cycling event organisers
- you will be able to weather any downturn in the popularity of cycling
- you will be able to cope with what is often a physically demanding and stressful job
Keep up to date with developments
British Cycling is the governing body of all cycle sport in Britain and is internationally recognised. They provide a great deal of helpful guidance to cycle event organisers, much of which is available to download from the British Cycling website.
Cycling Ireland is the governing body for cycling in the whole of Ireland and is affiliated to the International Cycling Union. It provides much helpful information for cycling event organisers on its website.
The UCI is responsible for developing and promoting all aspects of cycling and working closely with national associations.
You may be able to obtain a lot of useful information if you go to a trade show for the cycling sector. You will be able to make useful contacts and speak to prospective sponsors of your events. The Exhibitions UK website includes details of forthcoming exhibitions in many different industry sectors.
British Cycling produces a number of publications, such as the Racing Calendar, the British Cycling rulebook and a weekly e-Newsletter.
There are also a number of magazines available such as Cycling Weekly, Cycling Plus, Dirt, Mountain Biking UK and so on.