Five Minutes With... The Racing Collective
6 July, 2020
The Racing Collective describe themselves as 'a community of self-supported racers who love wild places'. We caught up with them to chat about changes to their 2020 flagship GBDuro, and the environmental priorities of their endurance events.
Why was the Racing Collective established?
Partly just for the craic, partly to help riders make the progression to races like the Transcontinental, and partly to showcase the kind of riding we have here on our little island… but mainly to build a community of people that share a passion for wilderness and sleeping in ditches.
How do you think the Racing Collective has evolved since it's inception? Has your attitude towards organising events changed over time?
It’s been nice to see how different rides have taken on different personas: CotsDURO summer, dry and dusty, WalesDURO… stunning, TransScotland can be a bit of a sufferfest, PennDURO… always gritty. Those characteristics in turn dictate what kind of rider turns out and it’s been awesome to see the diversity – from Lachlan’s performance at GBDURO, to the guy who finished OxDURO on a hybrid bike saying it’s the furthest he’d ever cycled in a day, to the two finishers (the only two finishers) at last year’s TransScotland, who made it to Glasgow after enduring days and days of Scottish rain, wind, and mountains. These different experiences are what The Racing Collective is all about and that is at the back of our minds when we consider new rides.
As many will have seen, GBDuro has become self-sufficient this year - What is the idea behind this? Do you envisage any extra challenges?
Yes, GBDURO was scheduled to run at the end of June but COVID-19 made that impossible. And even with a delayed start we’d have had to cancel the stage format to avoid social contact at the checkpoints. So the easy solution would have been to keep our riders in limbo and wait for restrictions to lift, but waiting it out was not an appealing option. Instead, by going for a self-sufficient approach, we are less dependent on evolving Government policy. And by not using commercial services, the experience will be better aligned with our outlook... less pork pies, milkshakes and Haribo… more feral.
The main challenge for riders will be working out what food to pack for 2000km of riding and how to load it on a bike that will be asked to deal with all kinds of terrain. These choices will favour the more experienced, well planned riders... and the riders who score well on the “don’t give a sh!t” spectrum.
As well as being self sufficient, you've advocated a zero-waste policy - is this something that could be kept in place in future events?
Yes, this will be a rule on all our rides next year. COVID-19 or not, we want to force our brains to engage on the problem at hand and shine a light on progress in biodegradable packaging etc. By creating the problem i.e. the burden of having to carry it, we will find solutions and in time, we hope the eye-watering amounts of plastic waste on ultras will be a thing of the past.
In that respect it is similar to the no-fly rule… by confronting the issue head-on we can see riders exploring more sustainable ways of travelling.
You have strong links to environmental causes with re-wilding and no-fly entries - do you think it is important that this becomes a norm?
In short, YES. To paraphrase Lian from Shift Cycling Culture… “if you love where you ride, why not act accordingly?”. But we have to do it TOGETHER – our ‘goody two shoes’ ethos will only be effective if we bring other riders/influencers/clubs/races along with us.
Sport can drive forward new ways of thinking, establish new social norms and new technologies, but it needs people to get on board. The world of professional cycling is broken and it’s the bikepacking community’s job to build a sustainable alternative - the question to ask yourself is: do you look the other way, or start getting busy?
If you want to learn more about the Racing Collective's plans or GBDuro 2020 check out their website