Here's where you'll find all the latest news and developments regarding the 2020 Great Weston Ride:
CORONAVIRUS UPDATE #4 - DATE CHANGE
First & foremost, we sincerely hope that you're staying safe and still managing to cope, whatever your individual circumstances during this crisis - we know that we've said it plenty over the last few months but we really do mean it, and we're very aware that this is a long & difficult road we're all on.
With regard to the GWR, we continue to monitor the whole situation as closely as we can and, while in principle we welcome the current focus at national level on easing some of the lockdown restrictions (provided that it's demonstrably safe to do so), in terms of our own situation we're also liaising closely with our key partners to take full account of their views and circumstances as well at this time.
To that end, the latest update we have from North Somerset Council is that the seafront at Weston is currently closed and they're not likely to re-open it before early July at the soonest. Added to which, it's our view that some recent signs locally (including the closure of Weston hospital due to a spike in coronavirus cases) have added an extra degree of uncertainty into the equation.
Further to that, there has now been an update from British Cycling to its guidance on sanctioned cycling activity which states that:
"In the absence of specific dates from the UK and devolved Governments, which are naturally hard to set, British Cycling is seeking to balance the desire to return to sanctioned cycling activity, where safe to do so, and concern for the health of people in our sport and in wider society.....[so] we have taken the decision to extend the suspension to 1st August 2020 for Sportives and other non-competitive events.
Please be aware that if you do run your event in the suspension period, the event insurance will be invalid."
The GWR is (and always has been) insured through British Cycling and therefore we are entirely subject to, and obviously must comply with, this instruction.
Naturally we're disappointed about all of this, not least because from our perspective we're still actually cautiously optimistic that the overall situation may have improved appreciably by mid-July, so ideally we would have liked a couple more weeks before coming to a decision about the GWR.
However, we said from the outset that this is uncharted territory for everyone and we're pragmatic enough to realise that there has to be a degree of interpretation and also an element of prediction & forward planning around some of these decisions.
So these developments - and the update from British Cycling in particular - have a direct & material impact on our plans for the GWR, to the extent that a decision has now been made for us.
Consequently, we can confirm that the 2020 GWR will now not take place in July and it will be taking place on Sunday 20th September 2020 instead.
Obviously everyone's safety remains our #1 priority in all of this and, on a very positive note, the reality is that the new September date (which is still some 16 weeks away) is actually likely to be during a period of far greater relaxation and confidence, so we do see it as a positive development overall.
It's even possible, as a result of this, that we MAY be able to accept a few more entries (an extra 100, maybe?), although we must stress that, until we see a material change in circumstances, we will continue to plan for the reduced field of 500 riders max. that we indicated previously.
We hope that this decision helps in terms of clarity going forward and, hopefully, everyone has paid heed to the previous updates about our options and managed diaries accordingly to keep 20th September available. But obviously if anyone has any queries or issues please let us know.
In the meantime, please continue to stay safe and just make sure that Sunday 20th September is now in pen (not pencil) in your diary! And we'll keep you updated as our plans evolve.
Remember - we're not going to be beaten by this, so it's time to Rise to the Challenge! :)
CORONAVIRUS UPDATE #3
Firstly, with the effects and impact of the Coronavirus pandemic still being felt widely, we very much hope that you're continuing to stay safe and coping as best you can at what is proving to be a very testing time for everyone.
It's pretty clear that there's still quite some way to go overall and the return to anything remotely resembling our old 'normal lives' is not even on the horizon just yet, so it seems that we're all going to have to learn to adapt and behave quite differently for some considerable time to come.
However, the latest update and guidance from the UK Government outlining its proposed 'recovery strategy' does represent the first very tentative steps towards the lifting of some restrictions and, specifically, a resumption of some activities and, if this is well-judged, it should give grounds for cautious optimism.
Time will tell in terms of how things ultimately pan out but, for now, we're suitably encouraged by the official statement that "re-opening outdoor spaces and activities (subject to continued social distancing) comes earlier in the roadmap because the risk of transmission outdoors is significantly lower".
Naturally, we'll continue to monitor developments with regard to how they may impact our plans for the 2020 GWR but right now, with nine weeks still to go at this point, arrangements for Sunday 19th July remain in place.
That said, we also still have everything very much lined up for the 'Plan B' date of Sunday 20th September - so if participants keep the September date clear as well just in case then, one way or another, they'll be in a position to take part once we know for certain on which date we can go ahead safely and with confidence.
Just for the record, and it's an entirely personal view, we actually feel that the coming couple of weeks or so could be very significant and the next major development is likely to have a direct bearing on our prospects for July and, ultimately, our decision on how best to proceed.
But, either way, the event will inevitably need to happen in a modified form this year and social distancing requirements & appropriate measures are currently under active consideration, and these will of course form a part of the overall event plan and delivery.
So probably the biggest change to report since our last update is the internal decision that we will definitely be running the event with a self-imposed significantly-reduced number of entries.
We haven't quite determined what that number might be right now, but a cap of around 500 places (and possibly even fewer) seems quite likely - and, of course, any future Government guidance could also have a bearing on this.
This means that there are probably only a relatively small number of places available now, and we just want to give everyone as much advance notice as possible about that.
We'll keep this aspect under constant review and obviously if there's a significant unexpected improvement in the overall situation then we'll revise accordingly, however we have to be realistic and an improvement of that magnitude seems rather unlikely right now.
We won't pretend that this won't leave us battered & bruised, so to speak, but the bottom line remains that we're not going to be beaten by this and the plan is still to be standing when this dreadful virus has done one! :)
So for now please continue to stay safe, keep following the official expert guidance, and we'll update again as soon as we have anything further to report.
And just remember - join us and Rise to the Challenge! :)
CORONAVIRUS UPDATE #2 - 2020 GWR BACKUP PLAN
The effects and impact of the Coronavirus pandemic have obviously increased significantly since our initial message four weeks ago (below), and first & foremost we very much hope that you're staying safe and coping as best you can at this very difficult time.
Obviously everyone has been affected by this in some way already (us included) - so we know that it can't be easy for anyone right now, and it's fairly clear that there's much further to go before we start to see any substantial or significant improvement in the overall situation and, specifically, the conditions around the current 'lockdown' situation.
Nevertheless, we're confident that that time WILL come and we maintain the view that WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE BEATEN BY THIS, so for our part we still fully expect the GWR to go ahead and we continue to plan and prepare accordingly.
At this point in time there's still nothing to say that the GWR won't be able to take place as scheduled in three months' time on Sunday 19th July, however it makes sense to have a contingency plan and so we've also now settled on a backup date should we need to re-arrange.
The backup date for the 2020 GWR is Sunday 20th September.
Obviously we'll be guided by the prevailing conditions and advice etc from Government but, as we indicated previously, we're determined to see the GWR happen when it's safe to do so and this additional date two months further on simply reinforces that intention.
So if it becomes clear that circumstances won't permit us to proceed as we would like in July then we'll simply change to this September date and go ahead then instead. And of course all existing entries will automatically be carried over to the backup date, if the need arises.
SO PLEASE SAVE THE DATE, and hopefully this positive news gives you the confidence and reassurance to come and join us if you haven't done so yet - the 2020 GWR will be happening, and we'll have everything in place for whichever date we ultimately go with.
But please note that we think that there may be a further factor to take into consideration: one thing we're less sure about (for either date) is whether we'll be able to go ahead with the same 1,000+ entries that we normally receive - it's purely guesswork on our part, but it's quite conceivable that the loosening of restrictions, when they come, may be gradual so it's entirely possible that we could be required to apply a lower limit to the number of entries that we can accept.
If that's the case (and we repeat, this is purely conjecture on our part!), but IF this happens then the only fair thing we could do is to operate a 'first come' policy on entries, with any entries over any such specified limit or cap being refunded as & when any such official guidance or instruction is received. So, for example, if events are restricted to 500 people max, we would prioritise the first 500 entries received by date order and refund any subsequent entries with our apologies.
Naturally, we hope that this doesn't happen but we need to plan for various eventualities and this seems the fairest way to proceed if this scenario does in fact materialise. It would also mean that the people who have shown the greatest faith and confidence in us by entering soonest would be rewarded for their support, and that also seems to us to be only right if we're faced with this unwanted predicament.
Clearly, so much of what is happening currently is 'uncharted territory' stuff but, if this situation does arise, hopefully you'll appreciate that we have at least alerted you to the possibility and what the proposed remedy would be.
But ultimately, on a positive note, what all of this does mean is that it's not a question of if the GWR will go ahead, but WHEN (and possibly just with how many people!) :)
So, for now, we'll continue to monitor developments and official guidance etc, and we'll update on our plans as soon as we have any clear indications regarding the viability or otherwise of going ahead with 'Plan A' in July.
Please feel free to let us know if you have any queries that aren't covered here and, as we said previously, please stay safe, follow the official expert guidance, and try to remain just as positive as you can through this thing.
And remember our motto - Rise to the Challenge! :)
NEW! GWR Cycling Jersey
We've had lots of enquiries recently about GWR cycling jerseys so we've come up with a revamped design for 2020, and it’s fair to say that we’re very pleased with what we've seen so far! :)
We produced our first jersey in 2013, another version came along in 2017, and this is now just the third GWR jersey design - and obviously we hope everyone will like this latest incarnation.
We're just waiting on final samples to be sure that we're happy with everything and, once we are, we'll make them available to buy through our website, and in the meantime we'd just like to gauge levels of interest.
As before, the plan is simply to supply and deliver the jerseys at cost plus a modest amount on top as a donation to our charity partner, Prostate Cancer UK. Assuming that there's a good level of interest, the purchase price is likely to be in the region of £33-£36 (tbc shortly) including VAT, P&P and the charity contribution.
The jersey, in sizes XS to 4XL, will come with three rear pockets to carry your ride essentials AND an additional small zipped pocket for valuables and, initially, we'll be able to offer a level of customisation that includes zip options and a female-specific cut.
Subsequently, it's likely that there will just be a small stock of standard jerseys available in a more limited range of sizes on a 'first come, first served' basis and once they're gone - they're gone!
So, to help us with the order size & to get the best-possible price (the bigger the order, the lower the cost per jersey) we'd appreciate it if you could just indicate your level of interest in the jersey (obviously no commitment at this stage), and we'll then keep you posted:
Thanks - we'll confirm full details ASAP & make the jersey available to buy at the earliest opportunity.
We know that these are difficult and worrying times for a lot of people and you may have bigger issues to think about than the GWR, however we just feel that now is an appropriate time to update on where we're at and how we see things currently.
So let's just get one thing clear from the outset - WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE BEATEN BY THIS.
Here's our current assessment of the situation (as of 17th March 2020):
The recent step-change update from Government and its medical advisers seems to indicate that the new restricted movement/behaviour advice is likely to be in place for many weeks to come and, while we know it's certainly not welcome news, we feel that this has at least provided a small degree of clarity in terms of timescales for now.
So as things stand there's nothing to suggest that the GWR won't be able to take place as scheduled on Sunday 19th July and therefore we're continuing to plan for that to happen, and we would REALLY appreciate it if potential riders did likewise and continued to support us by entering as normal!
Other events that have been cancelled recently (eg the London Bike Show) are being re-scheduled and re-booked for July, and we take that as a further positive indication.
However, notwithstanding the above, we also think that it would still be prudent to explore other options on a contingency basis and we'll be engaging with authorities, partners and providers to that effect - it's obviously very complicated with lots of uncertainty, a plethora of events up in the air, and very many known unknowns etc etc, but our plan is to be as flexible and creative as we need to be according to the circumstances, and we're simply working on the principle that we will prevail. And we hope you share that same mentality!
So, while it's completely uncharted territory for all of us right now, we're determined to see the GWR happen when it's safe to do so and, frankly, it's important that it does for two very good reasons - we're sure that everyone will want to get back to normal as quickly as possible and a positive, healthy day out will certainly help the collective mindset; and on a very pragmatic level we also need to try to ensure that the GWR survives this so that we're still able to put it on in future years.
We firmly believe that the situation in the country WILL eventually improve and it's vitally important to remain positive and upbeat where possible in the immediate weeks ahead, and we hope (and expect) that enjoyable social events like the GWR will actually help people to recover physically AND mentally once a semblance of normality returns.
And, if things have calmed down by June but there's still some doubt or lingering confidence issues around public gatherings, we'll factor this into our thinking & processes and adjust on-the-day arrangements accordingly - all part of that 'creative & flexible' approach that will enable us to go ahead responsibly and safely.
We will, of course, continue to monitor developments and the relevant official advice/guidance/instructions as best we can in what is a fast-moving and fluid situation and, where necessary, we will adjust plans & thinking in response and advise accordingly.
But, amongst all of this, please understand that we're facing something completely unprecedented which, quite frankly, we simply hadn't planned for (the same as virtually everyone else), so if we get the odd little thing wrong, or if the 2020 version of the GWR is ultimately markedly different from what we've come to expect in recent years, we hope that you can bear with us. It's extremely challenging and stressful for all event organisers right now, and we're no different - but we ARE intent on triumphing over the current adversity!
We hope that this is of some help, feel free to let us know if you have any queries that aren't covered here, please be confident enough to enter the GWR if you can, and - most important of all - please stay safe, follow the official expert guidance, and try to remain as positive as you can through this for your overall wellbeing.
And we'll see you on your bike very soon :)
A Summer of Cycling - Sorted!
In case you didn't know, the GWR is now actually the centrepiece of a three-Ride series of fabulous West Country cycling challenges that span the Summer.
All three provide absolutely stunning routes and, importantly, they share the same relaxed, all-inclusive ethos, and they're also specifically designed to work individually AND collectively, according to how much challenge and incentive participants are looking for.
As standalone events each Ride has its own distinct identity and each one offers a different level of physical challenge, so there should be something for pretty much any adventurous person who's prepared to hop on a bike and rise to a challenge.
But the series as a whole is also quite deliberately designed to become more challenging as the Summer progresses - so, for those who want it, there's the opportunity and motivation to push themselves and their cycling to ever-higher levels if they choose to tackle two or even all three of these fab cycling events.
Here's how it works:
The Mendips Lakes & Lumps Ride gets the Summer underway as part of the National Trust's Top of the Gorge outdoor festival (recently ranked as one of the UK's best 'Adventure & Wellness' festivals by The Guardian newspaper).
It's the shortest of the three Rides and deliberately so, as it includes free entry to the festival (worth £15) so the aim is to get people back in good time to also enjoy some of the festival activities (as well as the FREE food & beer that we provide!).
The route showcases & explores some of the very best parts of the Mendip Hills AONB, but just be warned - with 850m of climbing (50% of which comes in the final 12 miles) it's quite deceptive and definitely still adds up to a very decent challenge.
The mid-Summer Great Weston Ride hopefully needs little introduction - it's a stunning route and a wonderful day out and, with EIGHT route & distance options to choose from, it has something for pretty much anyone on its own, as well as providing the opportunity for a step-up in distance and climbing for those who want it.
And, to round things off, there's the Great Exmoor Ride which is undoubtedly the sternest test - a spectacular route with fabulous views and simply a great way to end the Summer, but at 66 miles and 1600m of climbing it's not for the faint-hearted.
It's certainly do-able for determined people with a level of fitness and definitely well worth it for the HUGE sense of achievement, but even fairly experienced cyclists tell us it's a really good test of their legs & lungs so you need to be prepared to really earn your stripes on this one!
Now if that isn't a Summer to look forward to we're not sure what is - so come & join us for one, two, or even all THREE great days out!
You may have already seen that we've entered into the festive spirit and announced that we'll be giving away some cycling goodies worth around £100 as an Xmas present to one of the riders signed up for the 2020 GWR :)
Initially we were going to keep the contents of the pressie as a surprise, however there is in fact a huge amount of choice & personal preference involved with what we have in mind - so we've decided it might be better after all to let everyone know what's actually going to be in the box!
The goodies are very kindly being provided by Gary Harris Cycles in Bristol (Gary has been the lead mechanic for the GWR since Day #1) and the lucky winner will be able to choose TWO items from the Fabric range in Gary's shop - the first being a brand new bike saddle from a very extensive selection, and the second is the winner's preferred choice of quality handlebar tape which is available in a variety of colours.
Gary will be able to advise on & recommend the most appropriate saddle within the range, to suit the winner's individual riding style, and he will also fit both the saddle AND the bar tape free of charge, if required. There are options for men and women within the saddle range as a whole, and the saddle also comes with a 60-day fit guarantee so it can be exchanged if, for some reason, it turns out that it doesn't feel quite right.
So you can see why we need to reveal what's in the box - there's a huge amount of choice on offer on BOTH products, and everyone could seriously benefit from these goodies in terms of real 'on-bike' comfort! :)
And to be in with a chance of receiving this GWR gift it couldn't be simpler - it's definitely going to go to one of our riders, and everyone who is signed up for the 2020 GWR prior to the draw being made at 6pm on Sunday 15th December is automatically entered and in with a chance of winning.
So if you're going to be joining us in 2020 just make sure that you get your Ride entry sorted in good time to be in the hat for this - it would be kind of daft not to really, wouldn't it?! :)
2020 Rider Medal
The GWR enters its second decade in 2020 and we've come up with a pretty special rider medal design to commemorate what is yet another significant milestone for us :)
One of these fab medals will be waiting for each & every rider who crosses the finish line in Weston-super-Mare next July and it should serve as a permanent reminder of a great achievement AND a great day out.
Hopefully you like the look of it with its two iconic images of Bristol and Weston and, as ever, all you need to do to get your hands on one of these is to ENTER the Ride, get some training in beforehand (the sooner you enter the more training & preparation you can do!), and then it's all about going out and riding the thing on the day!
Once again, with at least EIGHT route & distance options to choose from, there should be something for pretty much everyone, so whichever route option you go for you WILL know that you've well & truly earned your medal by the finish - and of course it always feels that little bit easier if you also know that you've done a bit of prep & practice beforehand!
Please do come & join us if you haven't entered already and bring as many friends, colleagues, family, etc with you as you can - we see so many groups riding together now and it really is even better when you take on the challenge alongside a bunch of people you know!
So sign up NOW and your medal will be waiting :)
2019 Fundraising Effort
You may (or may not!) be aware that these days we organise TWO challenging West Country cycling events (the Great Weston Ride & the Great Exmoor Ride) that encourage riders to use their considerable physical efforts to fundraise for charities and other good causes, and we'd like to say a huge 'THANK YOU' to everyone who rose to one (or both) of these challenges and raised money this year.
We've now gathered as much info as we can on the overall fundraising effort from these two events and we're delighted to say that it looks like the combined fundraising figure for 2019 is over £45,000, which is an amazing sum and the largest annual amount raised to date.
This also means that in excess of £355,000 has now been raised in total for good causes by our riders since we started.
This fantastic outcome is entirely down to the efforts and commitment of sponsored riders and their generous supporters, and we would appreciate it if fundraising riders could share this news with their sponsors, together with our thanks and appreciation for EVERYONE who contributed.
As always, numerous different charities and causes benefitted from riders' efforts and exertions and every year we're pleased to see so many being supported, and we're also delighted to see that our official charity partner, Prostate Cancer UK, enjoyed huge support once more and has now received around £235,000 from its longstanding partnership with the GWR and, more recently, the GER.
Both we and the whole team at Prostate Cancer UK are extremely grateful for the tremendous support that has been shown yet again and we'd all like to say a massive collective 'Thank You' to everyone who has contributed.
Hopefully this excellent news provides the encouragement and inspiration for riders to enter and at least consider fundraising again next year - the GWR enters its second decade in 2020 and the GER is going into its fourth year, and we'd love to see that total fundraising figure hit £400,000 if at all possible!
THANKS AGAIN, AND LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU IN 2020 :)