We are back with an exciting panel discussion, and Fran is learning all about the Cycling World Championships that took place in Scotland in August.
You'd be forgiven for almost missing this event (and we talk about why that might be the case) but I am joined by a panel of guests including Neil Russell, the managing director of the Adaptive Riders Collective, Vedangi Kulkarni, an endurance cyclist and adventurer, and Aoife Glass, a mountain bike journalist and host of the Spindrift podcast.
They help me learn more about the event, and we discuss many aspects such as the accessibility considerations, the integration of para-events, the chaos of a 'Madison relay race' and road closures.
We also touch on the issues with visas for some athletes and the UCI's policy change on the participation of transgender athletes.
This is a jam-packed episode, with chat on both cycling and the social and political issues surrounding such big events.
We want to hear from YOU
This episode was a whirlwind tour and we didn't have the time or expertise to go into some big aspects. But if you have opinions or views on anything we discussed, we'd love to hear from you!
You can send a DM on Instagram @OnTheOutsidePod, or get in touch via the contact tab.
Click for the transcript
Please note this is currently an auto transcript. It is pretty accurate but it may have some funny typos in places...
IDENT: This podcast is part of the Tremula Network, adventure and outdoor podcasts off the beaten track.
[MUSIC starts - ON THE OUTSIDE theme - Bassbeat by Alex Norton: "Funky and upbeat, jangling guitars, a fat bassline and a full horn section create the perfect soundtrack to a late summer block party."]
FRAN: 00:07 Hello and welcome to On the Outside, the podcast sharing diverse views on what's happening outdoors.
00:19 It is Francesca Turauskis back here again, and I'm pretty excited about this conversation because it was something that I only found out about fairly recently, which we'll talk about why that might be the case as well in a moment. But we are going to be talking about the Cycling World Championships, which took place up in Scotland in August. We are in August, so it was earlier on this month, but this will be going out a bit later. So last month for those of you that are listening to this, and I have a great panel as well for this one. I'm so glad that everybody was able to get on a call. I was really worried that we wouldn't be able to, but we have a couple of people that you will be familiar with. If you know the show, Neil Russell, we're going way back to the first episode and saying hi to him again. Vedangi Kulkarni who's been on a couple of episodes with us, including the Peak district, Kinder in Colour and that kind of thing. And Aoife Glass who does the Spindrift podcast and is also part of the Outdoors Podcast Club, which is how I know her quite well. And yeah, you all have fantastic knowledge on this and I have none, so I'm looking forward to this. I'm just going to get you to do a few more introductions just so people know where you are coming from. Neil, can we start with you?
NEIL: 01:40 Yeah, hi there everyone. My name's Neil Russell. I am the managing director of the Adaptive Riders Collective based up in Central Scotland. And we help people with disabilities and people from all walks of life really get out doing off-road cycling using adaptive off-road equipment. We also work with events to help integrate adaptive riders. And yeah, just, we've been running for about a year now, so we're growing very quickly. Lots of good things, happenings, and just hoping to see things continue to grow. And having the UCI world champs here up in Scotland was a great thing for us last month.
FRAN: 02:22 Fantastic. Vedangi, can you give us a little reintroduction as to how you fit into the cycling community?
VEDANGI: 02:30 Of course. So I'm an endurance cyclist, an adventurer, and I run a business called the Adventure Shed through which I plan and manage adventures and expeditions and sometimes lead. And so my aim is to sort of help make adventures and outdoors more accessible through practical knowledge and experience, I guess. And I'm also actually organising man bike races. So my next one is coming up end of September 30th, September and 1st of October. It's at Forest of Dean and yeah, it's called M T B 4 All and all cyclists at all levels are welcome. And yeah, we do have a category for Adaptive Rider. We've got eight people signed up. Super excited for that. And yeah, I was absolutely stoked about downhill world champs that were just down the road from me. So they were in 4 trillion and yeah, can't wait to chat more about it.
FRAN: 03:36 Fantastic, thank you. And Aoife?
AOIFE: 03:39 Hi, I'm Aoife. I run the Spindrift podcast and my background is in mountain bike journalism, although that's not what I do currently. And for me, the cycling world Championships was also basically in my town for the cross country mountain biking races. It was amazing to see the crowds and play a tiny, tiny part in the excitement that was going on with all of that. And I've always been passionate about increasing awareness of different voices and stories within cycling, which is why I set up the Spindrift podcast. It's something that I want to focus on, but it's also something I've always tried to do as well through my professional career.
FRAN: 04:22 Yeah, fantastic. And obviously you mentioned the SpinDrift podcast there, and that is literally how I found out that the World Championships was a thing. So not being in the cycling community, I feel like it potentially hasn't reached as far as it should considering what a big thing this seems to be. Would any of you like to give a little bit of an intro as to what the World Championships was and why this was such a big thing for Scotland and for cycling in general? Put you on the spot there.
NEIL: 04:56 Aoife will go for it.
VEDANGI: 04:57 Yeah, EFA will go for it. And I think you were doing a little bit of compering at the championships as well, Aoife, so this is a good chance to plug that as well.
AOIFE: 05:07 Yeah, so a lot of other sports around the world, each discipline of cycling and there's lots of different types of cycling, has its own world championships. They normally happen discipline by discipline parts of the world, different times of year. This time for the first time, the U C I, which is the international governing body for cycling, decided to have nearly all of the disciplines together for one mega world champs. So it happened this year that was the Cycling World Championships in Glasgow and across Scotland, so Fort William and the Tweed Valley as well. And it had everything from mountain biking and track cycling and road cycling to, I'm going to get some of the names wrong, B M X freestyle, B M X Park artistic cycling, which looked incredible, but I didn't get to go and see it. So for cycling, it's kind of like the equivalent of the cycling Olympics and it's the idea is it's going to happen every three years going forward. And yeah, it was huge, but as you said, perhaps not as huge as it could have been or should have been.
FRAN: 06:11 Yeah, and you mentioned some of the disciplines there and I said on one of our minisodes a couple of weeks back before the championships happened that I was just amazed that some of those sports even existed. So it was really nice to see it in a similar platform. But yeah, I didn't really know about this at all. Having said that, I was impressed to see that some of it was on the BBC there. Aside from that, how did people get involved with the championships? Was there a massive crowd? Did any of you go and see specific events? I know some of them were in your backyard dengue. How did you find out about it and get involved?
VEDANGI: 06:59 So Fort William is like 90 minutes from where I live and we know the trail builders there and some of the people who are involved in making the World Cup track better, I guess for world champs. And yeah, we literally have a season past and never strange, me and my partner. And so obviously we knew that this was happening up here, but I was specifically interested in the downhill and XC side of things because last year I covered EXE stuff for single track, and this year I wasn't doing any M T B journalism for World Champs specifically, but because I knew so many people who were involved and I'd seen some of them quite recently, for example, a writer from Fort William who lives in New Zealand called Louis Ana Ferguson. I met her at Mega A launch a few weeks before the world champs. And yeah, she was super stoked about it.
07:59 And then when you know someone who's doing it, knowing even Kellar who was part of the world champs and knowing people, Greg Williamson, who's from Inness, and just knowing people who are from the area who are doing that, suddenly you're super invested in it. So yeah, that was the thing with downhill world champs at least. And then obviously another thing of obsession was that they've done so many changes to the World Cup track for the world champs, and I was super stoked to see what they'll have done. Everyone was saying the track is 20 seconds quicker on everything, where are these 20 seconds coming from? How are the jumps bigger? And honestly, all of that process was just so exciting. So yeah, that kept me hooked and that's why way in advance I had my tickets for that. And yeah, there was never a doubt that I was going to go for it. I was absolutely there.
FRAN: 08:55 I love that. And you can absolutely, you can hear how stoked you are and for people listening as well, Ang is just so animated talking about that you can Feel the energy coming from her. But that does give a little bit of an idea as to the fact of if you're in the community, it feels like this is something which you've known about for ages and for people that aren't in the community and like me, and maybe a little bit slow with some of the acronyms there, M T b mountain bike, I got that one. What is CX
VEDANGI: 09:26 Cyclocross,
FRAN: 09:28 oh
VEDANGI: 09:28 XC is cross country, so that X xs for cross.
FRAN: 09:33 Oh, well that's just doubly confusing now. Okay,
VEDANGI: 09:36 I hope so. I hope the XS for cross, I've only ever seen X, C, C and X E O and I was like, oh, why a short track X, C, C? And I can see why Olympic distances X C O. But yeah, if anyone knows, please, please let me know. I'm not going to Google it.
FRAN: 09:55 I have to say that makes me feel a little bit better that even you are getting a bit confused because there's so many of these sports climbing is the same where I'm just like there's jargon that I'm just like I need to get this picked up on because I don't know. But yeah, thank you for that. And Neil, I'm going to come over to you now as well because you were actually involved in a slightly different way and hopefully from fairly early on for knowing what kind of role you played, but I'm not certain if that's necessarily the case.
NEIL: 10:27 It was great to be involved and sort of engage with the champion in a couple of different ways. One was being invited to do a little bit of consultancy work on some of the sites and looking at the accessibility. It was an interesting opportunity because it was nice to see the U C I and then the event planners want to engage with those who would be utilising the accessibility considerations that were put in place. So I went to Glasgow Green where there was some of B M X and sort of flatland and I'm not really sure again of the terminology, but there was the trials bike stuff there as well. It was good. It was good to go and see it. There was a lot of really positive considerations put in place, which were really good. And also went to Knights Wood, nice wood in Glasgow.
11:27 I'm terrible at getting that name right. But yeah, going to have a look at where the B M X was set up as well for the racing and have a look at accessibility issues and things like that there. Yeah, like I say, it was a positive thing. There's some good stuff there, but also I think there's definitely things to be learned from it, which is brilliant for the future. And if it is going to be something that's happening every three years, hopefully some of these considerations will be remembered and they'll think about open event planning for the next one. So it was nice to have that sort of professional involvement through Neil McKenna brought me in on that, which was lovely. And yeah, it was a really good experience and opportunity. On the other side of things, I'm not a big spectator of any sport and never really have been.
12:13 I always enjoyed taking part in sports, but I've always found it a little bit tedious, a little bit boring watching, but I've got to say the U C I Champs changed that for me massively. I was lucky enough to get some tickets to go to the Velodrome one evening and that was mind blowing. I absolutely loved it. The atmosphere was fantastic. The seats were pretty much sold out, which was great to see. And one of the things that was very much a new thing that they did for the champs was the integration of para events in the mainstream cycling events. So you would have all the track events going on and then you would have men's and you would have some of the para events and then there would be another non-disabled event, which was really good to see because you share the crowds and you share that atmosphere and that energy.
13:04 And I just thought it was really good. One thing I did not know was that they pump hot air into Viome, so when you go, you start sweating the minute you walk in the door As a spectator, I got very, very lucky. One of the New Zealand road coaches was standing next to us and he explained a lot of different things to me, was telling me how hot air is faster air for riding, which I was like, oh, I never knew this, so I wore a light grey cotton t-shirt, not the right choice for going to something like this, but it was great to see all the events. My mind was blown by some of the para-athletes, single leg amputees riding without a prosthesis and double leg amputees riding and double arm amputees and in the same category with your classification or same race, sorry, the classification.
13:52 It was just amazing to watch. I'd never heard of the Madison race before. I didn't know it was a thing. And that for anyone who's listening that knows what that is, they'll understand why. My head exploded a bit watching it about 50 riders or so, I don't know exact number on the track at one time in pairs grabbing each other hand on track on the track and they're grabbing each other's hand and slinging each other in the corners and there's 120 laps and every 10 you have a sprint and there's points. And I was like, I have no idea what's going on, but it was great to watch. So being able to spectate it really did actually show me that there are other disciplines of cycling that are really interesting to watch and made me want to think about maybe actually in the future paying a bit more attention to cycling events and what so world.
14:48 And the other thing I would say that was, like I said, it was great to see the para events fully integrated, which is an interesting one because actually yes, that's a very positive thing, but it also has mixed opinions. There are people who feel that the integration of para events within the mainstream dilutes the identity of the para movement and para athletes, which I can understand that logic, but I think for me it certainly seemed to be a really positive thing, especially with the sharing of the crowds and the sharing of the energy and bringing para events to the forefront so people can see it. I think para events often get lost. They're often after Paralympics, it's after the Olympics and the crowds dwindle. People aren't watching as much, so it's good because it's very much with the work that we do at arc, we want people to see what's possible. We want people to go, oh, I might be interested in doing that. These are things I can do. So that was lovely to see. I think that was a really big plus for the event and well done to UCI for making that decision. Yeah, it was good. It was good fun.
FRAN: 15:53 Yeah, I mean it sounds really good and I am going to do a little self plug there for anybody that is interested in learning a little bit more about the power movement and that kind of thing. I actually worked on a podcast called Equal two that was all about the Paralympics and the movement that has come out of that because it is a big cultural thing for disabled people. So do go and check that out. I'll pop the link in the show notes for you and I'm absolutely astounded. Did you say the Madison?
NEIL: 16:23 Yeah, so the Madison and I got the full history lesson of it to be doing with Madison Square Gardens. It's like over a hundred years old this race. And I think it used to go on for something like 12 or 24 hours and it was when cycling was viewed more as entertainment and almost on par with circus events and things like that. It was a really different viewpoint. But yeah, the Madison, it is historically really interesting. I went straight home and Googled it and was losing all about it on Wikipedia, ands sort of a race that seems to have stuck in some form and has that, I mean looking at it, you're like, this is not a race that I imagine someone would come up with now, especially with that almost danger of that physical contact with each other and having to grab hold of each other and you get some pretty dramatic crashes and stuff in it. But yeah, great to watch Terrified, but great.
FRAN: 17:20 It sounds kind of like the grand national of cycling. That's how I'm imagining it in my head.
NEIL: 17:27 That's probably a good analogy. That's pretty good comparison. Yeah.
FRAN: 17:31 Oh, I love that. Thank you. That was a really good insight into how it was as a spectator and also, yeah, I was going to say adaptations or the integration that's gone on there. Beautiful.
17:49 So Neil mentioned a little bit there some of the things that could be improved in future events and obviously this was a massive undertaking from the look of it. So there's always going to be aspects that went really well and aspects to learn from. One of the things that I found really interesting, and I actually found out about this when I was doing my research, I was doing my research for the show, is that there were some issues with visas for some of the top athletes. Now this is something which I know dengue you have quite a lot of experience and opinions on. So to give a little bit of context for listeners, I actually found out about this from the cycling podcast and they said that it was one of Africa's top cyclists, I think Binium Girmay was denied a UK visa to actually come to Glasgow and couldn't compete essentially. So that was the one that I know about dengue. I'll come over to you initially and just say, is that something that you knew about within the context of the Worlds? Did you know that that was happening in the big competitions there or any particular?
VEDANGI: 19:01 I didn't know about this until I saw a story that someone had made about it and it was actually very, very distressing because yeah, I know the sort of documentation you need for a non-EU citizen to enter the uk. So I hold an Indian passport and for a long time now, anywhere I go I've needed visas and it's interesting. So to get into the UK you need something like an invitation letter, a proof of your finances, your insurance, and then where you're going to stay and then how you're going to get places within the country. And then if you're from certain countries, you need a guarantor and that means someone who takes responsibility for you whilst you're there basically. And your return tickets and all of those details. But basically every single little detail of what you're going to do, where you're going to be within the uk, you need to submit that stuff and for top level leads in their countries to not get those visas.
20:14 It blows my mind because it is a matter of pride that UK is getting to host that Scotland's getting to host this and the fact that there are people who won't be able to join just because of their nationality and that there couldn't be exceptions made for certain documents that couldn't be provided or whatever. I'm sure everything was provided, but sometimes the timescales are also absolutely crazy and you need to be interviewed and stuff. So yeah, it's really distressing to know this because yeah, that could have been easily someone, I know this has happened to some people I know from India as well where they have tried to get a visa and it's just gone declined because it wasn't a student visa or wasn't a long stay visa, it was just a visit visa and yeah, some of the details were inconclusive or whatever, they just need an excuse to say no to visas these days.
21:17 It's absolutely nuts. And so it just kind of blew my mind mostly because it's a matter of pride for any country to host world champs and the fact that you're not welcoming towards certain countries is just not okay. Yeah, I don't get it. And it was really distressing and there are agencies and stuff, so in certain countries there are agencies that look after your visa process. So for example, for me to apply for a Shang and Visa, I need to go through E F Ss global. So there's companies like that in different countries who look after the process and sometimes it is those companies fault, but more often than not, it's the fact that these companies are submitting the passports and everything to the embassy and then the embassy is taking their sweet time not looking at the fact that okay, this person's actually an elite level elite competing at world champs or doing something incredibly important in that other country.
22:20 They're not looking at that, they're just looking at it like, oh, it's just another applicant. And so they'll take the sweet time getting to it and then to provide that stamp that gets you in the country. I also read somewhere about someone from one of the African countries getting detained at the border and that was again crazy. How are you detaining someone who's come in with the right visa to compete at world champs? How many things do you have to prove in order to just do the sport that you're so good at? I dunno, it kind of gets me a bit riled up. But yeah, that's what I've got to say on the topic. I guess it didn't even cross my mind that that could be a problem with the world champs in the uk. I just assumed that of course as world champs, everyone's going to get the visa, everyone's going to be able to make it. So yeah,
FRAN: 23:19 Thank you for that and thank you for going into some of the details there that the documents just that list of documents to begin with that you have to tick the boxes to get those is already astounding. And like you say, this was something that was also mentioned on the cycling podcast that whether there should just be a nice easy application for things like this where if you are bidding for hosting events like this, there should be something within the political system of the country that is hosting that should allow easy access for athletes because as you say, it becomes an embarrassment. It's embarrassing that this happened essentially. And that's obviously coming from the point of view of somebody that is just a part of the country that was hosting. But like you say, for athletes that now can't compete, that can be really distressing and upsetting and potentially career changing if you can't get there. So yeah, thank you for giving a bit of information on that one. I mean there's so much we could go into in terms of the politics and whilst it does get into politics sometimes with this podcast, it's not a political podcast so I won't say too many of my opinions. But yeah, I think that's definitely something which needs to be taken into account. Aoife.
AOIFE: 24:45 Well, just on completely the opposite end of the spectrum, I think one of the interesting stories that I heard about some of the things that were happening on the ground with the cross country, mountain bike world champs races, which were here in the Tweed Valley, and there were a few stories of some of the riders that had made it. And I think when you think world champs, you're assuming that these races from around the world have the full support of their government or their local sporting governing body. They've got funding and all the rest of it. And actually quite a number of riders came almost entirely or on very, very low budgets. So they don't necessarily have a full, when you go to a mountain bike, a cycling race event, there's usually a whole team of people behind the riders and the races providing support, mechanical support or feeding them or providing accommodations to all these riders have to do races have to do is think about is racing.
25:48 But not everybody has that. And one, it would be great to see that change, but one of some of the nicer stories that I heard around the world champs was communities on the ground coming together to support those riders. So we heard about some local bike shops providing mechanical support for the races, people coming together to cook for them so they didn't have to worry about finding food people throwing them around between venues so they didn't have to worry about that. And I think one of the things that I loved about this event and it wasn't perfect, it was great, it could definitely be better, but one of the things I loved about it was the people on the ground from the communities and the volunteers that helped run the events that came together to make it as good as it possibly could be. People were so willing to help people help the races and help the spectators have a good time. And I think that was one of the warmest happiest things that I got from being around the events, being around the world championships. That was one of the things that made me the happiest.
FRAN: 26:58 Yeah, that's really nice. Thank you for giving that side of things as well because on the one hand I just go, it shouldn't have to be people on the ground that are stepping up.
AOIFE: 27:08 Yeah, absolutely.
FRAN: 27:10 But on the other hand, it is nice to know that people are still there to step up, people are there as part of the community and helping to make that something that's really kind of like community aspects to it.
27:30 Another thing I listened to when I was doing my research was talking about essentially this legacy that this might have for Scotland and potentially the UK in general. I dunno whether to go down this route now simply because of the face that Neil is making, but I would be interested to hear a little bit in terms of any other local aspects that trying to get people into cycling that maybe weren't into cycling before and this kind of thing. Are there any aspects with that that you all have seen as well?
NEIL: 28:05 I think it's definitely an area that when there is the next champs, I think that the legacy has to really be considered a bit more, I think yeah, first time hosting world champs in one country and it was a really big thing. There was such a potential for a lot of legacy from that. I have to be honest that I'm not entirely sure I see where that legacy is going to be or how that's going to happen. I think that it's a need, there's room for plenty of improvement for next time because there should be a huge legacy off this. A lot of the B M X Act for example is temporary, it gets taken down afterwards, things like that. That's a shame because could have perhaps been integrated into the planning better where the result being this small B M X track that exists already having this international level track built next to it could have stayed and it could have been a really positive legacy afterwards.
29:12 And I think that it is great to see elite level cycling, elite level cycling is brilliant for watch and it brought a lot to the country, a lot of tourism, a lot of money, a lot of good things come off it, but for your average dual, your person that's just a commuter or wants get into cycling so that they need to look at this and go, what's my pathway into cycling and how does the legacy help that happen? So funds, available projects, I think there were some, and I think unfortunately a little bit like the overall chance, it hasn't been marketed enormous or it hasn't been marketed perfectly. There could be great things that come off it, but we're just not hearing about them, we're not knowing about them and I think that frustrates people. I know that locals and will always be the case, 10 days of interruption to their use of their roads and making these challenges.
30:11 People are always going to get annoyed that if you can offset that, but these are some of the really positive things that will come from it that will be lasting that can help appease people a little bit. And I just don't think there was enough of that going around to help ease it for people. So those who were non cyclists, there was quite a lot of negativity about it as well and they're like, oh, bloody cyclists the NDIS and all this stuff and you're like, I think the legacy should be that work with the communities actually and helping them see the positives that can come from such an event like this. I don't know all the facts, I don't know all the details. I do know that some of the legacy funding was actually being spent before the event to inject some money into projects and stuff like that. Again, I personally haven't seen the fruits of that. I don't see where that money really went. I don't think there's been an awful lot about that at community level. So yeah, I think that's definitely an area for improvement for the next time they're running this wherever that is. That's something they really want to probably get.
FRAN: 31:13 I mean it doesn't surprise me that much because your story there about the community just made me remember the 2012 Olympics. I was actually living on the cycle route and the cycle route literally enclosed my street and we didn't get any warning to say that we wouldn't be able to leave our flat on the days that the cycle route was running. I just kind of woke up and went, oh, I mean we get a really good view but I can't go and get milk now. So that doesn't surprise me that much that there's a few aspects that on the ground are just not managed. And I suppose opening that up, I have two questions actually on the back of that. Obviously with the Olympics, I know bids are put in years in advance, decades in advance. Do you know when this was kind of agreed that it was going to be in Scotland? How long have they had to plan for this?
NEIL: 32:16 I hear 2018, but I'm not sure if that's correct.
AOIFE: 32:20 I think that would match up with about what I heard, but I don't know specifically. I think the hearing rumbles about it happening about three years ago, but I'm assuming it was probably decided before then.
NEIL: 32:34 And then we had Covid in the middle of that. So I imagine that delayed things and changed things. That's quite a long period of time to get an event up and running. I think one of the things that was tricky, you're about road closures and stuff was that the information was available on your local council website, what roads were going to be closed And what I don't think enough of was that information was that was there if you went looking for it, that information needs to be put in front of the people that it's going to affect. Whether that's things going through people's letter boxes or whatever. It's because again, you've got to think about the fact that not everyone's interested in cycling. Not everyone's necessarily using social media or the internet. We have various groups within society that might not engage with that kind of technology very readily or easily. So you've got to take that information to them certainly if you're going to disrupt their routine in their day-to-day life for up to 10 days. That's something that's got to I think be addressed.
FRAN: 33:40 And we've seen through things like covid that we can do that. So we've got the text messages, we've got the massive campaigns for covid safety and covid vaccines. So it just needs a little bit of investment to that kind of thing. You would assume
AOIFE: 33:57 You'd hope. Fingers crossed, I mean hopefully most people have experienced this, but we've got a local cycling race that comes through here, tour the borders and they always, you get a leaflet through the door and it tells you when it's happening, they tell you how long it's going to happen for during the day. They tell you the route and they say, if you need to get out, this is what you need to do. Otherwise how would you know to look for a cycling event that's going to happen if you don't follow cycling or know that. So yeah, I think it's a lot of paper, not so keen on that, but it does mean that you literally get it delivered through your door.
FRAN: 34:34 And I suppose that kind of just goes to show actually that a local cycling race can do it. So as with a lot of things, the bigger companies need to have a bit of a bigger picture idea sometimes maybe.
NEIL: 34:47 I think one of the things that made the U C I tricky as well was that it wasn't event plans by one central company. From what I gather, I believe that it was each location went out to different event organisers and that meant that there was differences in kind of how much information was there wasn't continuity across the different organising. Oh my god, I'll be back.
FRAN: 35:16 No, no worries at all. I'll come back to that Dengue, is there anything that you would like to add on this aspect or is there anything else in particular that you'd like to bring up that we haven't touched on yet
VEDANGI: 35:28 About the sort of giving people long enough notice thing? A lot of people, including my neighbours actually, they're in their seventies or something and one morning they're doing something in the garden and we were about to leave for, well think the world champs, but we were leaving slightly later because it was only practise day and they were like, oh, what are you going to Fort William for today? And then they, they're like, oh wait, so you're saying there's a big race? Does that mean I shouldn't be driving anywhere on so-and-so date? And I was like, oh wow, unless you're into cycling, you really do not know that. And yeah, I definitely spoke to many, many angry 4 trillion locals about this. He didn't know there was an event happening and there were tourists who showed up big tourist buses. So again, this is something that should have been known to tourist companies which often come to venues like for twill to use the gondola go up and we had the ones that usually come to Fort t William, they were still showing up on the practise day on the quality day and stuff.
36:43 So there's already a massive queue and these tourist companies were not told that there's a big event happening. And so they are showing up and now the queue for the gondola is double in what it should be. It went all the way to where the motorway jumps on was finished, where that wall is. That's how long the queues were. And it shouldn't have been that way because the tourist company should have known that. And it was clear that the people there who came with those tour companies didn't know it either. And yeah, that was a sight to see really.
FRAN: 37:19 And that makes me think as well, when you were saying with your neighbours, I was speaking to my parents about this and they said, oh, this seems like a really big thing. We haven't seen it even on the news, none of the news channels seem to cover it. So there does seem to be a bigger thing in that it hasn't been picked up as well. Yeah, it's interesting. There seems to be a lot of things integrated as to where communication fell essentially.
NEIL: 37:46 I think that was the same with the accessibility stuff as well. The sites were aware that they were going to have people with accessibility needs coming to their sites. So there was some good stuff. But I think, and one of the things I really hoped come from it for future is that you think about accessibility at the inception of the event planning, not after. Because if you put your accessibility, I mean I bang on about this, people have heard me talk about this in other areas a million times, but if you put your accessibility at the beginning and build your event villages around it, it works when you realise afterwards, oops, we need to make sure that things are accessible. You are jamming it in where there's no space for it. And now unfortunately from some of the sites that I've seen and some of the things I had seen was the case, and it's frustrating because that then doesn't make people feel as welcome because they think, oh, it's just an afterthought or it's a tick box.
38:47 And it's like, don't do that. Of course I'm always going to advocate for that side of things, that's the area I work in. But I really think that they've got to do this stuff from the beginning and I think they need to bring in the right kind of consultants and value the consultants that have that knowledge, that lived experience. Because we went to sites where they're like, oh, we've got the simple toilets. And you're like, okay, where are they? And you had these toilets where if you were in a power chair, the door wouldn't shut because there wasn't enough space to move. And the opening of that door is facing out into the main thorough threshold. You've got lots of people walking past, you had prayer spaces, which is fantastic, really great that they had them, but there was a step about 30 centimetres to get into them. And you're like, try it
FRAN: because you can't be more than one diversity Area point, right? Well, you're not allowed.
NEIL: 39:37 Got to pick which team you on and you only get one team. No, when you're finding out that these things don't quite work two days before events start, you don't have an awful lot of time to actually resolve it. So it's good that they have thought about putting multiple disabled toilets spread out about site village. That's good. But there's other bits of detail that really need to get people in early to see and have their input to make sure it actually works. It's not always as simple as, we'll put a disabled toilet and that's it. So I'm hoping that that's again something for the future that they say, let's think about that stuff right at the beginning and that is going to make your athletes, your prior athletes who are there and your spectators that have accessibility needs feel welcome and actually included and thought of, which is I think is really important, needs to happen more. So I don't want that to, I'll say this before we even started, I don't want it to be a bad mouthy thing because actually I think U C I overall was a positive thing, a fantastic thing. But I think we've just got, there's always going to be room for improvement and hopefully that is carried forward.
40:48 I think I've said that enough times now
VEDANGI: 40:57 Did you speak about your MCing experience?
AOIFE: 41:03 No, I didn't. But does anybody want to hear about that?
NEIL: 41:06 I want to hear about that.
VEDANGI: 41:07 I want to hear about that. I think that'd be quite interesting.
AOIFE: 41:10 Okay, cool. So another way I was involved and I was so excited to do this, was on the ground mc team for the events, Glen Trusts. So that was for the cross country marathon, short track relay and Olympic discipline events. So that was basically across the whole week. It was really full on and it was incredibly exciting and a slightly nerve wracking. So essentially in venue there's also a team of people that work to make sure that everyone who's spectating in the venue has a really good atmosphere. And I was on that team. So there were two MCs, two commentators who sit in a booth and there was myself and Lauren McCallum from Protect Our Winters where they're kind of roving mcss and we kind of wandered around sight with a floor manager and a cameraman Stew, the cameraman, his name was, he was great.
42:07 And we would have little segments to do so whether that was geeing up the crowd or providing a bit of context standing at a particular part of the track as the races came through, telling people what to expect. So a lot of my role was saying stuff like, Glen Truss, are you ready? Which was fantastic. We'd have in the headphones. And so someone would say, okay, we're going to come to you guys, we want you to talk about the riders that have just come through this part of the track and up. And then the floor manager would give us a 5, 4, 3 and two and one would be silent. And then we were live on the screens around the venue and we'd have to do our bit. And it was brilliant. It was, yeah, initially nerve wracking, but then, oh my god, there's nothing like the buzz and the adrenaline off it and also having the crowd react when you say something like that, it's kind of cool. So yeah, I really, really enjoyed that. I'd love to do more. So yeah, it was really good fun. Different to podcasting.
FRAN: 43:17 Yeah, I can only imagine if you can't edit out what you're saying.
AOIFE: 43:22 Yeah,
FRAN: 43:24 Definitely. It seems like you smashed it though. I was following you on socials that week and you're getting a lot of people feeding back on you and seeing skills. Oh,
AOIFE: 43:35 Thank you. I really enjoyed it. And I think also being able to, I love interviewing people, so being able to do a few on the fly interviews with people in venue was probably my favourite part of that. Just chatting to the folks from World Bicycle Relief or from trash free trails to get that other perspective of what goes on behind the scenes and into making an event like this happen and hopefully the wider implications and opportunities of such an event.
FRAN: 44:05 Fantastic, thank you.
44:12 So the last thing that I want us to just touch on today, and it follows on a little bit from the idea of the visa issues for some riders, is the fact that the U c I changed its policy on, in their words, the rules on the participation of transgender athletes in competitions. And this came in just before the world championships. So I have to say this is something which I think all of us on the show today have. We've not got personal experience, we've not got expertise in this, but I just wanted to read out a little bit about the policy change there. And essentially on the 5th of July, the U c I said that from now on, female transgender athletes who have transitioned after male puberty will be prohibited from participating in women's events on the U C I international calendar in all categories in the various disciplines.
45:14 So this obviously affected every discipline in the world championships and there are stories that I've read and articles that I've read about how, again, this was communicated, this was something that a lot of athletes actually found out from the public announcement rather than actually hearing it themselves or hearing it from trainers or hearing it from personal communication and that kind of thing. Yeah, I don't have a lot to say on this, but I dunno if it's my space to say on this right now. But I will say that it is something that is very interesting as to the time that it came in and it does feel like it was put in knowing that the world championships were coming. And yeah, I would essentially love to hear from any listeners that know a little bit more on this than myself that have been affected either personally or have been affected emotionally by this.
46:15 And yeah, I very much didn't want to have this conversation and this topic without actually touching on that aspect of it because I think it's quite important whether you are into the sports or not, to see that this kind of thing is happening. And again, it's not just cycling around the same time. We actually had a few different policies. I think British rowing had something put in and the one that blows my mind, chess seems to think that there is an issue with transgender women being in women's categories and that kind of thing that the vastness of the sports that's affecting does go to show the excuses that are being used aren't necessarily accurate in my personal opinion.
That was obviously a whirlwind tour of a very big event and thank you all for coming and giving me a little bit of insights into your connection to it and this kind of thing. Where can we find you? What are you all doing that you would like to shout about at the moment? Let's go to EFA first this time.
AOIFE: 47:31 So I am working on the Spin Roof podcast, so that is available on hopefully all major podcast platforms. I've got some great chats coming up soon, including the next one, which will be with a research called Dr. Fiona Spotswood looking into women's perceptions of mountain biking and her research into that, which I am so excited about because oh, it just gets me so fired up. So I'm looking forward to sharing that with everybody. And again, I'm always up for if anyone has any ideas or speakers or guests who have interesting stories or interesting perspectives, I would love to hear from them.
FRAN: 48:12 Fantastic. Vedangi, we heard a little bit about your event in September, but anything else or where something,
VEDANGI: 48:25 Just say something V. Yeah, I have organised a race at Forest of Dean called M T V for All and you can find the link to sign up for it on the events page of British cycling. And some key points of the race are the fact that there's a group ride out, there's on the go coaching and you get unlimited race runs. I'm trying something new with this even though I haven't got a lot of signups at the moment. I want to make the most out of that because I've cancelled this race two times before and everyone who knows about it never fails to mention that. So it's ever so slightly embarrassing. So I've decided that honestly, anyone who bothers to show up for this, they're going to have the time of their life. We are racing down ski run and honestly, yeah, if anyone's worried whether they're not going to be able to get down the track or not, there are people who will help you out with the right skills and techniques to make your way down. So yeah.
NEIL: 49:34 Can I say one thing? I know that you've cancelled it twice, but people are still buzzing for your event. People talk about it and people are excited about it and people, I would not say have lost faith in it because it was cancelled. I think you cancelled for the right reasons and I think people know that.
VEDANGI: 49:50 Thanks Neil.
NEIL: 49:52 It's still a good thing and yeah, I think, I hope it goes really well. It looks like a, unfortunately I'm not able to make it as you know, but next time there's something on, tell us as far in advance as possible because Mark makes my diary.
VEDANGI: 50:04 Course,
NEIL: 50:06 Now that we'll have equipment, we would love to be at future events to bring our kit and yeah, don't worry about it. People will know it's going to be a good event.
VEDANGI: 50:15 Cool. Thank you so much.
FRAN: 50:19 Yay. Go and check that out. If you are in the forest of Dean area or can get to the forest of Dean area, do go and do that. And Neil, again, we heard a little bit about your general plans. Is there anything in particular people can do to support you at the end of this episode?
NEIL: 50:36 Yeah, like I say, art's been running for years. We're still growing very fast, lots of good things happening. We have the Dukes weekends are Indu event, event coming up in a couple of weeks time, ninth and 10th of September. And this is the second year that has had an adaptive rider's category in it, which is fantastic. We have more signups this year than we did last year. We have an American rider coming over specifically for the event as well. So it's really exciting. And just following us on social media, we've got a good presence on Instagram, we have a website and we also are just having a film festival, film project that we did edited just now, which should be coming out at the end of October. We premiered that where we took a couple of adaptive riders on a body trip up in the Highlands, which was fantastic. Really good project. So yeah, that should be coming out in the next couple of months and then going to film festivals. But yeah, it just follows on social media and you'll see all the vast array of things that we're trying to do and juggle all at the same time, but it's looking really good.
FRAN: 51:43 Fantastic. Thank you.
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A massive thank you once again to our panel for today, Neil, Aoife, Vendangi, that was a great conversation.
This episode of On The Outside was Produced, hosted and edited by me, Francesca Turauskis. On The Outside artwork is created by Sophie Nolan. Music is Bass Beats by Alex Norton. Anesu Matanda-Mambingo is our Social Media Assistant.
And YOU have been our listener. Thank you very much for listening.
Click for links to all stories mentioned
Listen to the episode of The Cycling Podcast that Fran used for homework!
Aneela McKenna introduced Neil to the UCI team for access consultation.
Find out more about the Paralympic movement - listen to Equal Too: Achieving Disability Justice