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People: Hertfordshire Cycling's Nick Truran on creating a buzz around cycling

Cycling Officer, Hertfordshire Cycling

Published in Sports Management Nov Dec 2016 issue 128
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Nick Truran, cycling officer, Hertfordshire Cycling
Nick Truran, cycling officer, Hertfordshire Cycling

Cycling has been growing in popularity for several years now, but Hertfordshire Cycling has committed to introducing the sport to many more with its Tarmac Tour of Hertfordshire Series. This series of short-distance racing events took place in five different towns within the county: Bricket Wood, Letchworth, Berkhamsted, Welwyn and Hitchin. Cycling officer Nick Truran was part of the team that organised the tour, putting the focus on accessibility and participation.

“The desire was to promote cycling in all forms, to engage with residents and cycling clubs in the hope of increasing participation across the county,” he said.

“We ran shorter-distance races in small towns to give as much access to the events as possible – the thrill for cyclists and spectators of being up close and personal to the event enhanced the excitement and festival atmosphere we were trying to achieve.”

In the interests of accessibility, the events featured free practice rides and categories for children and novice riders. There were also fun challenges such as the ‘folding bike challenge’ where teams of three, dressed in business attire, had to fold and unfold their bike and each ride a lap of the course.

“Giving both young and novice cyclists the chance to ride but also accommodating the elite riders was important. We wanted to give everyone the chance to be involved. The wide range of riders taking part and the enjoyment we saw from them and their families was extremely rewarding.”

Location, location, location
2016 is the second year the tour has been run, undergoing a name change from the original ‘Tour of Hertfordshire series’ to include headline sponsor Tarmac. Each of the circuits featured lap lengths of just 800-1,200 metres long, and incorporated characteristic elements of the host town, such as Hitchin’s cobbled streets and Berkhamsted’s castle.

The locations of the series, while providing colour and charm, also produced a fair amount of challenges for the team at Hertfordshire Cycling.

“Each round was different and presented a range of challenges that needed to be negotiated to deliver these high quality cycling events,” said Truran.

“Each event takes a great deal of planning and discussion with a host of stakeholders. We have learnt a great deal from holding these events and continue to find ways of improving them, not only for the cyclists that take part, but also for the spectators and the residents and businesses who will inevitably be affected by the events.”

The key to the success of the series, Truran explained, was close partnership with sponsors, local cycling clubs, district councils and emergency services. Each round had a different lead organiser, with Hertfordshire Cycling taking responsibility for the overall series management.

“The organisation that an event like this requires is huge, especially when there are five rounds. It takes all the partners – and especially the round lead organisers – to work together. Every link in the chain has to be working for everyone else.

“It’s vital to have local clubs helping run the events on the day as well as showcasing their club. It’s also a great chance to work with a range of stallholders and other businesses that have links to cycling, helping to make the festivals cater for everyone,” he explained.

While cycling is the focus of the event, there are other things to consider, said Truran.

“Creating the festival atmosphere and ‘buzz’ is very important. Whilst there is a huge amount of planning and preparation, the quality of the events and the feedback has been incredibly encouraging.”

Truran was happy with the participation numbers for this year’s event, with between 250 and 500 riders competing in each event, along with several hundred who participated in the free practice rides. There was also a significant increase in spectator numbers.

Looking ahead
After such a successful tour this year, Truran fully expects that the event will take place again in 2017.

“The feedback has been very encouraging. We are working closely with all partners towards next year.

“At every stage we have learnt new things. More communication with residents and local businesses before the events is something we are committed to. Also securing ongoing sponsorship and co-operation from a number of stakeholders is important.”

Of utmost importance for Truran and the team, however, is that the enjoyment of cycling prevails.

“The tour brings the excitement of cycling to the community, offers access and the opportunity to take part. Everyone can be a cyclist – we want people to be enthusiastic about getting on a bike whether they want to compete in races, commute to school or work or take a leisurely ride at the weekend,” he said.

“Creating a buzz and getting people talking about cycling is a positive outcome we have delivered through these events. This is good for cycling clubs and also a boost for local businesses with thousands of people coming along to watch the events.”

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