Here's where you'll find all the latest news and developments regarding the 2021 Great Weston Ride:
ROADMAP OUT OF LOCKDOWN
Following the Government's much-anticipated announcement & publication of its four-step 'roadmap out of lockdown' for England, here's our latest thinking on what it means for the 2021 GWR.
Firstly, we're pleased to see that this plan confirms our earlier assessment that we could see a material change for the better from Easter onwards and, while no doubt people will have their own views on the pace at which various lockdown measures will be lifted, obviously the overall picture constitutes very welcome news.
And it's certainly encouraging to see that the Government and its scientific advisors actually appear to be able to envisage a complete end to legal restrictions in relation to social contact by the Summer.
However, it's important to note that it's been stressed that it's data and not dates that will ultimately govern the speed at which things unlock, which means that the dates in the roadmap are actually just a rough guide and subject to change.
Nevertheless, based on the information provided in the roadmap, we can have significantly-increased confidence not only in the prospects for the GWR to go ahead as planned on Sunday 18th July 2021, but also in the clear indication that we may be in a position by that date to return to something very close to 'normal', both in terms of delivery of the event AND in terms of numbers of participants.
That said, at this very early stage it's still only 'confidence' and not 'certainty' so we're not going to get carried away - we're still going to proceed cautiously in our planning & approach for now, and we think it would be prudent at least to see the progress and, in particular, the impact of the 'Step 1' measures in the roadmap before making any major planning changes.
Therefore, while we're very encouraged and certainly feeling cautiously optimistic at this development, we're not taking anything for granted and we're going to wait for greater certainty around the timelines & dates that have been announced, bearing in mind the following important statement in the official summary guidance:
"In implementing this plan we will be guided by data, not dates, so that we do not risk a surge in infections that would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS. For that reason, all the dates in the roadmap are indicative and subject to change. There will be a minimum of five weeks between each step: four weeks for the scientific data to reflect the changes in restrictions and to be analysed; followed by one week’s advance notice of the restrictions that will be eased. Only when the government is sure that it is safe to move from one step to the next will the final decision be made."
This means that, for now, we'll continue to keep our backup date in place (Sunday 5th September 2021) just in case and at least until there's some further clarity, and of course we'll continue to make COVID-secure arrangements for event delivery until such time as we have the certainty that we can act otherwise.
But the very good news is that we're now inclined to make a slight change in our forecast/expectations for the permitted overall event size - even if actual dates shift slightly, the general 'direction of travel' within the roadmap gives us enough confidence to think that we should be able to safely surpass the conservative 600-person cap that we've anticipated to date.
Indeed, the fact is that if the roadmap proves to be entirely accurate in terms of its stated 'unlock' dates then, in theory, we'd be in a position to return to our 1,000+ riders of pre-COVID days - of course we're not anticipating that just yet, but it's something we'll keep a very close eye on.
In summary then, this feels like positive and encouraging news going forward and, as ever, we'll continue to monitor developments and the relevant official guidance. And, as we've just done now, we'll adjust our thinking in response and update accordingly.
We hope this note is of some help, and please feel free to let us know if you have any queries regarding any of this.
And please still sign up as soon as you can for the 2021 GWR if you haven't done so already, and there are at least three good reasons to do this - 1) in the event of ANY cap on numbers 'first come first served' will always be our guiding principle; 2) it really helps us with our planning in these extremely challenging times; and 3) it also gives you plenty of time to get yourself ready so that you can enjoy a totally fab day out!
Come on - Rise to the Challenge with us! :)
2021 GWR Backup Plan & Entry Update
While nothing has really changed in essence from our coronavirus update below, naturally we're planning as far ahead as we can this year and, as part of that, it makes complete sense to put a contingency plan in place in the event that we should need to re-arrange the GWR (as happened in 2020).
We must stress that at this point in time there's absolutely nothing to suggest that the GWR won't be able to take place as scheduled on Sunday 18th July 2021 - it's still a long way off, and we very much expect to see a significant improvement in the national situation before then - however we're just acting prudently and so we've now also fixed a backup date for the 2021 GWR.
That backup date is Sunday 5th September 2021 so PLEASE SAVE THE DATE.
Our aim here is to make things as easy as possible for everyone, and hopefully giving ample notice to reserve the backup date NOW (until there's further clarification) will help with that.
That further clarification is likely to come in Springtime and, as always, we'll be guided by the prevailing conditions and advice etc from Government but, just like in 2020, we're determined to see the GWR happen when it's safe to do so and this sensible measure simply reinforces that intention.
So, in the unlikely event that 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.
Hopefully this positive & proactive approach (combined with the knowledge that we prevailed as we said we would under these kind of circumstances in 2020) gives you the confidence and reassurance to come and join us if you haven't done so yet - the 2021 GWR will be happening, and we'll have everything in place for whichever date we ultimately go with.
However, it's also important to note that at this stage we're still working on the assumption that we'll have to apply a much-reduced cap on entries compared with a 'normal' year and, if that's the case, based on our current anticipated entry restrictions we now estimate that around 65% of the likely available places have already been taken.
Inevitably, this involves an element of conjecture on our part (and needless to say that ideally we'd very much like to get back to at least near normal entry levels), however it represents our reasonable 'best guess' as things stand and so we just want to share this as early and as widely as possible to avoid (or at least minimise) possible disappointment at missing out.
We've set out in the post below (dated January 2021) how we intend to manage the situation if we are subject to a reduced capacity, and that approach still stands.
And the good news remains that we still have some of what we call our 'priority' places available, however there are appreciably fewer than a few weeks ago and current rates of sign-up suggest that these places will be taken sooner rather than later.
Obviously we'll advise further as things develop but, for the time being, we very much hope that this update is of help and, with a backup date now in place, we know that we've got another great GWR day out waiting to happen - which is good news for everyone who's already entered, and also for those about to join them!
Feel free to let us know if you have any queries and, in the meantime, please just stay safe.
2021 - Ongoing Coronavirus Situation
Just as it was ten long months ago, we're back to very difficult and worrying times for a lot of people so, with that in mind, we'd like to update on where we're at currently and how we see things unfolding in 2021.
We'll start by reiterating the positive message we shared repeatedly last year, namely that WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE BEATEN BY THIS.
We were true to our word in 2020, we delivered a very safe and enjoyable event last year - one of very few to happen in the entire country - and it means that we now have a tried & tested COVID-secure model to hand if needed. So hopefully that will give everyone the confidence to trust & support us again this year.
That said, the next few weeks are definitely going to be challenging and dominated by bad news and, quite probably, a real sense of doom & gloom, added to which Winter lockdown restrictions are likely to feel more severe than they did during an unseasonably warm Spring in 2020.
So the short-term outlook is certainly pretty bleak and most unwelcome, however the prospects from the various vaccine options DO provide genuine grounds for hope and optimism, and our view is that there is reason to believe that we could see a material change for the better from Easter onwards.
So as things stand there's absolutely nothing to suggest that the GWR won't be able to take place as scheduled on Sunday 18th July and therefore we're continuing to plan on that basis - albeit understanding that there is the distinct possibility that, once again, we may have to apply a significantly-reduced limit on the number of places we can offer. We sincerely hope this isn't the case, but we need to be pragmatic and to plan accordingly.
We had to set a cap of 600 riders in 2020 (the maximum size permitted for any event in the country) and, while we very much hope to be back to at least very near normal by July 2021, we also have to accept that we may find ourselves in a similar situation again.
If that's the case then the only fair thing we could do is to operate a 'first come' policy on entries, with those entries over any specified limit or cap being refunded as & when any such official guidance or instruction is received. So, for example, if events get restricted to 600 people again and we find we've exceeded that number at the time this becomes known, we would prioritise the first 600 entries received by date order and refund any subsequent entries with our apologies.
We know this is far from ideal and not what we would want in the least, but it seems the fairest way to proceed if this scenario does in fact materialise - and giving priority in these circumstances to those people who've shown the greatest confidence and support does seem to be the most equitable way to manage this.
The good news right now is that entries haven't reached these levels as yet, however please note that after just a couple of months of entry being open we're already well over 50% subscribed based on our restricted 2020 capacity level, and so it seems likely that we may reach this threshold fairly soon.
Clearly, some of this is just conjecture and 'worst-case scenario' planning at this stage but, if the above situation does arise, hopefully you'll appreciate that we have at least alerted you to the possibility - and what the proposed remedy would be - in good time.
We will, of course, continue to monitor developments and the relevant official guidance & instructions as best we can and, where necessary, we will adjust our thinking in response and advise further accordingly.
Plus, while it's still extremely challenging and stressful for event organisers right now given the near-term negative outlook, this time around it's not all completely new and out of the blue - we don't like it one bit, but at least we've been here before - and, for our part, we actually feel much less daunted and certainly better prepared to meet the challenge than we did in 2020 (and we didn't do too badly then!). So this gives us significant confidence for 2021, and we also hope it's of some help and reassurance to you too.
Finally, we reiterate that we firmly believe that the situation across the country WILL improve from Spring onwards so 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 once again help people physically AND mentally as a semblance of normality returns in the Summer.
Please feel free to let us know if you have any queries regarding any of this, and do sign up as soon as you can to secure your place for the 2021 GWR (if you haven't done so already).
And - most importantly - please stay safe, follow the official expert guidance, and remain as positive as you can while we get through this latest difficult period.
Don't forget our motto - Rise to the Challenge! :)
2020 Fundraising Effort
We're fairly sure that no-one needs reminding how difficult and challenging 2020 has been for pretty much all of us, however hopefully it's not been all bad and there's been the odd bit of good news here & there - which we can add to with details of a rather special fundraising effort from our riders this year, given the circumstances.
We've now gathered as much information as we can on the overall fundraising effort from our GWR and GER cycling challenges, and it looks like the combined fundraising figure for 2020 is around £35,000 - which also means that almost £400,000 has now been raised in total for good causes by our riders since we started.
As always, numerous different charities and causes benefitted from riders' efforts & exertions in 2020 and every year we're pleased to see so many being supported.
And we're especially delighted to see that our official charity partner received huge amounts of support again, to the extent that Prostate Cancer UK has now received around £260,000 from its partnership with the Great Weston Ride and the Great Exmoor Ride.
Not unexpectedly, the overall 2020 fundraising total isn't quite as high as it's been in recent years - however when you consider that COVID restrictions meant that we had to limit the total number of available entries to less than 60% of our usual numbers, then you soon realise that it was in fact a pretty phenomenal effort this year.
And, of course, with so many other fundraising events simply not managing to overcome the COVID challenge and therefore not happening in 2020, we're sure that our riders' efforts and contributions are even more welcome and more gratefully received than ever.
So obviously we'd like to say a massive and heartfelt 'THANK YOU' to everyone who rose to one (or both) of these challenges and raised money this year - it's a very significant amount in very testing circumstances, and this success is entirely down to the efforts and commitment of sponsored riders and their generous supporters.
We would appreciate it if fundraising riders could also share this news with the people who supported them, together with our thanks and appreciation for EVERYONE who contributed, and Prostate Cancer UK has specifically asked us to let everyone know that they are extremely grateful for the tremendous support that has been shown yet again.
And of course we very much hope that lots of people will enter and at least consider fundraising again next year - we never even dreamt that half a million pounds in fundraising would be achieved when we started down this path, and yet now it's very much in sight!
THANKS AGAIN, AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU IN 2021 :)