30 000 people missing from York

As predicted, the much touted figure of 50 000 visitors to the National Cycling Festival 2000 was an inflated target. Companies who booked stands at this years rates and on the promise of the 50k were disappointed with the actual turnout
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The final attendance figures have yet to be announced, although they are not expected to break the 20 000 barrier.

In other words, no more people attended the National Cycling Festival than normally attend a York Rally. Yet the CTC now has a seething mass of discontented members, racked off at being asked to pay for what has always been free.

Sure, there were features other than trade stands to coax fivers out of their pockets but your average CTC member isnt terribly interested in bungee jumping, MBUK-style bike leaping or street sound DJs.

No doubt the CTC will decry the language in this article. Seething discontent? What seething discontent? But if they choose to shoot the messenger rather than learn from their misreading of the situation then so be it.

BikeBiz talked to a wide cross section of CTC members, stand staff, food concession owners and CTC foot soldiers. There was universal disgruntlement.

Exaggeration? No, CTC staff were clearly disgruntled themselves. Heres what two of them said over the PA system at the end of the final day.

Mick Ives, the CTCs offroad co-ordinator got irate with an over-hasty dismantlement of race equipment as he was commentating on the last race and he complained about this and the weekend in general:

Please make your feelings known to the organisers. I work for the organisation. Unfortunately.

And the announcer giving the thanks to close the show had to acknowledge the members discontent. In a resigned voice he said:

If you are not happy about the way the show has gone this year there is a form to fill in. Whatever you say will be listened to carefully Im sure.

Laurie Sedman of CoBR did his own straw poll on Saturday night and found that only 40 percent of the Knavesmire campers had paid to get into the Festival, or were planning to. Of those who had gone in, many used a friends ticket stub (a stub got you in or out as many times as you wished).

The fact that so many of the traditional York Rally features were in the pay area rankled with CTC members. Visitors new to the show would have been none the wiser but, by all accounts and not just in our view, there were very few new visitors.

Last year when the BA and the CTC announced their joint show at a press conference, BikeBiz pressed them on what the average CTC member would think of having to pay to gain entry to their show. The answer was that the Festival would be seperate to the Rally, with the all the traditional Rally features including the cut-price bazaar housed in the usual tents and free to all.

This never happened, hence the discontent.

On Wednesday BikeBiz asked CTC director Kevin Mayne the same question again, was he worried some CTC members wouldnt want to pay to get in. He said not.

You put them in close proximity to so many shiny bikes and theyll pay to get in and see them.

Most did (under sufference), many did not.

This show spent a lot of the trades money. John Carrington Beard of the BA worked pretty much full time on the show. And all to influence the usual suspects.

If not enough people outside cycling were told about it, the brilliance or otherwise of the National Cycling Festival 2000 is an irrelevance.

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