Some of you will recognise my name as having taken part in the LWCR league in 2011. I have volunteered to help in the running of the league in 2012 and, in this guise, am writing to you as we are currently in the process of trying to sort out the framework for next year's league to take this exciting league forward into another year.
Some of you will also be aware that Rapha are interested in sponsoring the league for next year. An initial meeting and some discussions have taken place and details of a proposed framework are set out below. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about what is being proposed.
1. Support and assistance
Running a league like the LWCR league takes a lot of work behind the scenes and any help and assistance we can get is welcome. Offers that have come in already following Maria's email have been gratefully received and will be followed up. We would like to suggest that for each of the major teams involved in the league (three or more of you racing regularly) one person is nominated as the point of contact for that team. If we need any help, then the point of contact person will be asked to chivvy their teammates as necessary! It will also give us someone to contact if there are any last minute changes to races. So, please give us the names of your chief chivviers.
Some specific tasks that we would welcome people with specialist skills to volunteer for are:
- Social media management: to take control of the website, Facebook page and the Twitter account to use these tools more effectively;
- Social events organisation: to be in charge of organising the social events (see below for more details);
- Email response management: to respond promptly and manage responses to emails that come to the league via the website.
Maryka and I will be the main co-ordinators for the league but as I am sure you appreciate we both have busy lives and if we don't get enough support there is a risk that the league will not continue or will not thrive.
Rapha would commit to sponsoring the league for up to three years (TBC pending final agreements with Rapha). They would provide leader's jerseys for races (1 jersey per season to be retained by each leading rider, new leaders would get a new jersey), money towards booking circuits for skills sessions (potentially three sessions at each of Hillingdon, Hog Hill and Cyclopark hopefully to be run prior to an actual race), and prizes at the end of the season. In addition to the leader's jersey, we are proposing a badging system whereby each rider who completes a race would get a badge with the top three and the top cat 3/4 rider getting a 'special' badge. The finer details of this are all TBC.
If needed, Rapha will be able to help provide additional marshalling bibs, race numbers and the press and PR to get more people out to events.
Additionally, to celebrate the great stuff going on in the sport at both grassroots and elite level, Rapha ambassador and sport photographer, Gem Atkinson, is going to be more involved photographing and reporting on women's racing for the 2012 season.
Rapha are very happy for other sponsors to be involved but not other clothing companies which would sadly mean losing Ana Nichoola as a sponsor. Currently sponsorship from any other companies has not been sought or offered but we would hope to maintain links with LMNH and would be open to offers from non-clothes specific companies if the Rapha deal goes ahead.
For background information, inspired by the success of LWCR, Rapha are planning sponsorship of four other women's leagues next year, three in the US (New York City, Portland and a New England women's cross league) and sponsorship of women's racing in Australia (Melbourne). This is a part of and one of the first steps in Rapha's push to support and grow the culture of women's cycling, building riders' confidence and getting more women serious about the sport.
3. LWCR races
We do not have a finalised calendar yet but we are proposing to use mostly similar races to last year, hopefully with no two races on the same circuit. Additional races that may be included (dependent on the organisers' willingness to be part of our league) are several Surrey League road races and maybe one at Cyclopark (near Gravesend).
We are hoping to have a calendar with around 12 races with at least one, but possibly two, time trials. We have not finalised how rankings will be determined yet but we will probably have your top six rankings counting and we may have some sort of weighting system for the team prize. Some of the road races will only allow 3rd cats and above so we will try to ensure that there are at least six races open to all categories. We would encourage 4th cats to gain points at the evening races at Hog Hill, Hillingdon and Crystal Palace in order to move up to 3rd cat if they want to race on the road.
4. Skills sessions
As mentioned above we would like to organise some skills sessions with qualified coaches and maybe even a star rider. Ideally these would be for a couple of hours prior to a race at one of the circuits. In addition we would like to suggest that each of the main teams organises a group ride before the season starts to allow people to get to know each other and to get used to riding in a group. If anyone is a qualified coach and would be willing to help with these, please let us know.
Rapha are also running their own skills sessions and social events across different cycling disciplines which LWCR riders would be welcome and encouraged to attend. We would keep you informed via the website when any of these are going on.
5. Social events
We would like to organise three social events, hopefully with at the Look Mum No Hands cafe. We would have one pre-season, one mid-season and one post-season (this would be the the final rankings prize giving event). These could either be buy your own food and drink or pay for a ticket which gives you food and a drink, say.
Please let us have your thoughts and suggestions on any and/or all of the above as soon as possible as we would like to finalise the calendar early in the new year.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Best wishes and a happy Christmas to you and your families,
P.S. Please forward this to fellow team members or club forums as we do not have email addresses for all racers. We will also be putting it on the website and Facebook page.